stardust [after Gaiman]

Jan 07 2014


Very early one morning when the park ranger was sipping coffee on the porch of his cabin a star fell in the forest. It shot down out of the sky like a glowing rocket and it made a very loud sound. The loudest part of the sound was not its impact with the earth but the path of the star through the atmosphere. But the earth trembled under the impact and in the cabin a piece of crockery fell and smashed.

The ranger got in his truck and drove to the site of the impact. He had seen it fall through the trees and was worried about fire. He radioed his information about what had happened, but when he pulled off the road it seemed like there would not be much more to tell. There were no signs of fire. He walked through the trees until he found a large black crater lined with traces of sparkle and in the centre was the star, stark naked.

It was looking upward towards the sky, peering through the trees, and it was concentrating so that it did not notice him until he called out to it. “My name is John,” he said, scudding down the inside of the crater, “What’s yours?”

The star looked up at him with its silvery eyes. “my names jane”, it said, “and now im stuck here”. It burst into tears, and slick snotty sparkles ran down its face. John put his jacket around it and took it back to his truck.

When he got it in the car he radioed quickly to say that there was no fire danger. He was not sure what to do about the star yet but he thought that the most important thing was to get it comfortable. Naked, naked, he thought again, with embarrassment and excitement. As he drove he glanced at it all covered up in his jacket. It was a small star. It was glowing and twinkling and its skin was very pale, and anyone could see that it was a star, but anyone might have expected a star to be stronger. This star was small and fragile looking, with elegant limbs. “Jane is a very human sounding name,” remarked John, “Which star are you?”

“im the one that shines first” it said.

Back at the cabin he had to teach it to use the shower and to put clothes on. It took instruction well, and it may even have already known what John was telling it, but these things seemed unimportant to it. It refused to eat. It said it didn’t know how. John tried to show it, but it explained that the mechanics were not the problem; its body would not be able to use those ingredients the way that John’s did. It assured him it was not hungry, but that all that it needed was to go back to its place in the sky, which was not possible now that it was fallen. It looked out the window. John asked what he could do for it, whether he could take it somewhere to someone who might help it, but it said that nothing could be done, so it would rather stay where it could be safe.

While he worked in the park during the day, it stayed indoors shedding shimmery dust over his furniture and floors. It spent its time peeking at the sky from behind the blinds, reading his books, and listening to his music. After it had been with him for a couple of weeks he came home from his patrols to surprise it singing a weird music. Its voice was unearthly. John asked it to continue its singing and it sang for him all night. In its song he became lost wandering the histories of its far away eternity in space, and did not know where he had been until it was dawn and the star faded. It was always brightest at night.

One night he took it to the tallest place in the area where they could see the sky all around them. It was a rocky mountain top with no trees. He spread a blanket down for them and they took turns looking through a telescope. The star related a few completely bizarre narratives, not linear or logical, about certain constellations, using unusual words in strange configurations. “sorry” it said, “it sounds so nonsensical in earth talk”. They had a moment of quiet, but it was not uncomfortable. “So,” said John then, “What constellation are you from?”

“im a lone star”, said the star. “That makes two of us,” said John. And he reached out and held the star, and kissed it for some time. He put his arm under the star’s shirt and rubbed its back. But by the time they returned to the cabin, he was feeling unwell, and the places where he had touched the star were itchy and raw. “im sorry” it said, “my skin is degrading as you can see i dont have much longer now”. John saw then that the skin of the star had been slowly coming away, and that the molten parts beneath were showing through now. They were as bright as glory. “I don’t care Jane,” said John, “I love you.”

“to you im a human boy but where im from things are different”, said the star.

“Is that important now?” said John.

After nobody had heard from John in a week, one of his superiors made the journey to the cabin, and was disgusted by his discovery that every surface of the bedroom from floor to ceiling had been decorated in a thick velvety layer of vivid crimson glitter glue. It was as though some fabulous explosion had spontaneously proposed to render every thing in an extreme of delight. John was nowhere to be found. “And that’s just as well,” said the gentleman to himself, “There’s no place in this service for fags.”

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