Twilight quietly settled on the roofs of the city, softening its corners and adding mystery to remote steps and distant voices. He glanced at his painting he had drawn recently – an explosion of colors against the pitch-black background… ‘The silent drama of the cosmic world…' He closed his eyes. Only then he realized how heavy his eyelids were. Two flagstones… No one in the world would be able to lift them.
He felt ill, very ill. He was lying prone on the couch; the explosion of colors went non-stop in his head. It expended every second and he pressed his palms to his eyelids to sooth the burning sensation in his eyes. It seemed the colors set them on fire. All of a sudden he felt thirsty and he wanted to take a glass of water but couldn't get up from the couch – his feet were too weak to overcome the invisible irons gravity put him into.
‘I'm ill… I have a rare illness... I'm allergic to gravity,' he thought, licking his dry lips. The idea seemed to be crazy at first, but the more he thought about it the more it made sense to him. ‘Gravity… This is it. This is the reason of my suffering. Now I understand… The heavy presence of human beings will eventually kill me… I'm an astronomer; watching stars is the only thing I can do. I always feel better at night when everyone goes to sleep and the gravity of attachments yields to the weightlessness of dreams...'
He leaned his forehead against the couch, whispering, “Dark matter is drifting in space… It wants to win more stars for itself, more planets, more dreams… Darkness needs light…”
When he opened his eyes it was twilight already. ‘Is it evening or is it morning?' He had difficulty focusing. The view was fuzzy as if he looked through a crystal or was placed inside the ice cube. He raised his eyes and saw a silhouette of a tall skinny woman next to him.
“Who are you?” he groaned, getting up. He was still weak but he could move.
She flopped on the couch. “It's pretty cold out there,” she said, huddling up and rubbing her bony hands. “I'm Loneliness.”
He made a sloping stagger to the kitchen and offered her some food, but she only smirked. “Loneliness doesn't need food. Loneliness needs warmth. Turn the heater on for me, please.”
“I already did.”
“It's not enough. You see, my teeth are clenching!” She opened her toothless mouth wide to show him. “A blizzard is coming,” she sighed and fell asleep.
He looked in the window. Half of it was already sealed up, covering the view.
‘We'll be buried here until spring,' he thought, breathing on the windowpane.
Loneliness sobbed in her sleep. She had a dream that the fire had died in the fireplace.
He breathed on the window and cleared the spot.
She woke up and stared at him for a few seconds. “What are you doing there?” she finally asked in a husky voice.
He didn't respond.
She turned on the other side, mumbling, “Friends come and go, but I always stay. I'm your true friend…” She stretched, startling the fire in the fireplace. “It's chilly here! Why do you, people, always save on heat?”
“Wait a minute…” he whispered, peering into the dusk.
“What?” She perked up, alarmed. “See something?”
“You're hallucinating! Loners always have visions… Some even acquire imaginary friends! Have you ever had one?”
He pressed his forehead against the windowpane, trying to discern something in the distance. Someone was walking in the blizzard. He pushed the door and rushed out, crying, “This way! This way!”
She looked out, too, huddling up against the cold. “Whom do you see there?” She scrutinized the distance. “It's a tree. It's just a tree. Close the door! I'll catch a cold.”
She went to the kitchen and began to rumble with plates and dishes.
He waited at the doorstep, but the figure disappeared. ‘She's right, I'm hallucinating…'
He went back, shaking snow off his shoulders.
“Tea time,” Loneliness sang, clapping the cups.
“Leave me alone!” he grumbled.
“You are alone.”
“Keep quiet. I don't want to talk to you!”
“I am quiet. I'm always quiet. There's no one here…” She looked round. “Who are you talking to, anyway?”
The starfall began. One by one, stars landed on the ground, freezing to their reflections. Each one carried someone's wish.
Reflected by the glaciated surface, the stellar rays blazed, setting the ground on cold fire.
The moon squinted and cracked in the middle, letting the ashes out.
“At the center of each galaxy there is a super-massive black hole,” Loneliness whispered.
“Beauty's in the eyes…” he began a prayer.
“In the ice,” she corrected him. “In the ice…”
The two halves of the moon hardened into moonstones.
“Look at the sky!” He exclaimed, glancing in the window.
“It's not sky,” Loneliness said.
“Not sky? Then what is it?”
“It's a land…”
“But there are stars everywhere…”
“Those are fallen… There are no skies anymore…”
V. Ulea, Pennsylvania (Ulita.net)
image: Margot Miller, Maryland (Margot Miller)
another blueprintreview starfall story: Folding and Unfolding On