Tonight, as we gaze up into the night sky, you ask if I can see the little dipper.
We sprawl together across the grassy field beyond your bedroom window, backs pressed flat against the earth. I remember laying here when we were younger, narrowing my eyes just enough to block out the willow branches encroaching upon my view, and then it was just me and you and the stars. I felt as though I could fall right off the face of the earth back then, tumble headfirst into the clouds with your hand in mine.
If you didn't let go, I'd thought, I don't think I'd mind the fall.
For a moment, your question is met with silence. The distant hum of cicadas settles comfortably within the absence of our conversation, the chrip of crickets nestled within the swaying branches of the willow tree. I know if I looked, I would find your head turned to face me, hair tangled up and threaded with fallen branches as it had been when we were eight years old.
I smile. "Why ask when we both know you'll show me anyway?'
You laugh beside me, and for a moment I think gravity really has reversed and thrown us freefalling into the sky. It's only butterflies. When I turn, you're smiling too, long hair splayed out across the grass as the stars reflect in your eyes. "Hey, give me a break!"
"Well," I say, laughing along, "It's true, isn't it? You always loved telling people all about the mythology behind them. Remember that time with my mom?"
You turn away, face burning at the memory. "Oh god, I can't believe she can look me in the eye after that." Shaking your head, you fall back with a sigh. The insects engulf the absence of our voices once again, a cool breeze drifting across my skin.
"Hey," You say, "I know its annoying, but could I still tell you about the little dipper?"
I laugh, becuase the idea of your talks annoying me is so ridiculous I can't help it, and your face twists into a frown. "As if any of your stories could be annoying," I tell you, "You're like, a natural born storyteller. Whoever came up with the original constellation stories would be honored to hear you gushing about them."
"The Ancient Greeks," You say.
"See? There you go. I have no idea how you hold so much knowledge inside that tiny head of yours. You're brilliant. Probably the smartest person I know."
You sit abruptly to stare at me, wide-eyed like you were all those years ago. I catch a flicker of confusion within your gaze before it melts into understanding, into something kinder that I am unable to place. If I were as smart as you, I might call it love.
"So," I continue, gesturing towards the sky, "Go on, tell me as many time as you'd like. I'd listen to you forever if I could, but the sun always rises eventually."
You shot me a smile before flopping back onto the grass. I watch, transfixed, as you raise a hand to point out each star comprising the constellation and connect them together, explaining each story along the way.
Tonight, I imagine the hands of our ancient ancestors tracing the ceiling of this world, passing stories down through the generations in a tongue neither of us can speak. I see the way their fingertips trace each pinprick of light amid the darkness, pulling them together until they connect. Humans, it seems to me, have always been drawn to stars.
Tonight, I imagine us tumbling down into the cosmos to drift among the stars, hand in hand as we had been all those years ago. I imagine someone still standing on earth, fingertips outstretched to connect our constellations.
It seems fitting, to be drawn together like this. It had always been the two of us here among the stars, and I couldn't imagine it any other way.
You dive into another explanation, reciting the stories you have known by heart since Kindergarden, and I smile. Eventually, the sun will rise to chase away the night, and your stories will end, but for now, I close my eyes and listen.
I find your words more beautiful than the view.