To Find A Fallen Star

I stirred from an uneasy sleep. I needed to use the bathroom, too much juice again before bedtime. Opening my eyes I looked up into the darkness. It was quiet, only the gentle ticking from the clock crept through the stillness. A faint glow of sodium orange framed the bedroom curtain. I turn round to my left side and fumbled for my bedside clock which stood on the top of the bookcase beside the bunk bed I occupied, along with the bedside lamp. Dimly I could read the time, it was only one o’clock in the morning. Damn! I slowly pushed aside the blankets and, quietly, turned towards the foot of the bed. It was chilly and I felt goose bumps rising up on my skin. Damn! Rotating around I put my foot on the top rung of the bunk bed ladder and slowly, gently, climbed down. The whole bed creaked and groaned. Below me, on the bottom bunk, I heard my brother stir and turn under his blanket. He didn’t wake. Finding my slippers at the base of the ladder, I headed to the toilet, quietly passing my parents room so as not to waken them either. The toilet was cold, too. I didn’t linger. After I was finished I headed to the living room window and looked out into the night.

The streetlights were aglow but there was no traffic at this hour. One or two windows were lit up in the apartment buildings across the street, otherwise they were dark. Behind the second apartment building from us I could see the trees by the base perimeter fence stilloutted by the security lights behind them. Beyond the base I could see the sleeping town and further on, black underneath a sodium sky, were the wooded hills and ridges that surrounded the town. Above, despite the light pollution, shimmered the stars of Orion and Taurus. Sirius sparkled violently, while further up, to the right, I spied the gently twinkling Pliaedes. It looked cold, freezing even, outside even though it was only early October and we’d been having an extended Indian summer during the days. I shivered and felt ready to return to my warm blankets. Anyhow, it was only a few hours until I needed to rise again and get ready for school. Still, the beauty of the stars kept me looking up for another couple of minutes.

Suddenly, a streak of white – yellow light flashed down at a steep angle right over the hill in front of me, the one that had the dim beam of the airstrip towers’ rotating light pass over it every couple of seconds. The army airstrip was just behind the hill so you couldn’t actually see the light, just the dim beam passing over the ridge into the night sky, like a dim search light looking for something. Right on the summit of this hill, it seemed to me, was where the meteor had fallen. “A shooting star”, I exclaimed with excitement and joy. A shooting star just fell out of the sky and crashed on the hill, an object from another world, another time! That very instant I decided that I’d go look for it and bring the shooting star home with me. I looked out a little longer, hoping for more shooting stars, but none followed. Shivering a little more now, both as a result of the cold and also the thrill of seeing the shooting star fall, I finally returned to the warmth of my bed. Pulling the blanket over me I planned my search for the shooting star and, before I knew it, fell promptly asleep again. I probably had a big smile on my face.

There wasn’t a big smile on my face a few hours later when I arose and was studying my reflection in the bathroom mirror. A new crop of zits had sprung up over night on my chin. More pimples adorned my forehead and a nice whitehead lay claim to my lower right cheek. After washing my face in warm water I applied the clarasel cream, that mom had thoughtfully bought me, to my face. I caked on the skin toned cream until I resembled, as my brother always so kindly put it, Bette Davies in Whatever happened to Baby Jane. The skin toned acne cream may have stunk, but it didn’t sting like the gel cream did.


Author’s Note: To Find a Fallen Star started off as a short narrative piece about an actual event that occured to me in Germany in October, 1978. For days afterwards my friends and I made plans to hike into the hills and look for the fallen star. Of course, it was a meteor and it didn’t actually fall to Earth, it only looked like it had and igniting my imagination. The narrative was going to be the basis of a story of some kind incoporating the emotions and sensations of what it felt to be a young teenager. Alas, it never got further than this, but you may have still enjoyed reading it.

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