I looked up. It was one of those nights where I had nowhere to go so I just picked a star in the sky and followed the streets I thought would get me closest to it, ignoring the fact that none of the streets were on hills and I wasn’t climbing any higher. It didn’t matter though because I wanted to be closer to the star, not in possession of it. Doing that would only make it a flimsy night light I could buy at the corner store adjacent to my flat.
So like I did most nights when I couldn’t sleep, I just followed. I figured the less I looked at the ground, the less aware I was that I was pinned to it, like a piece of fabric safety pinned to the quilt–I hopefully wasn’t being sewn into the earth any time soon. If I could just avoid looking at the ground and try to make sure nothing got in my sights but the sky, then maybe I could convince myself that was where I was.
In order to see the moon, I had to round the corner of a crumbled brick building with dusty windows that distorted my reflection when I glanced at them. The moon wasn’t really my thing. I generally preferred the simple stars but that night it seemed different to me. Nobody believes when I tell them what I experienced, what I saw on any night of any year. They say my nighttime walks are just dreams and maybe this one was but I was certain there was a woman sitting on the moon. I had no idea how but it was glaringly obvious she sat there nonetheless.
She had short, chocolate brown hair that hung in loose curly tendrils only to her jaw line. A thin, white, lace dress hung from her ivory shoulders. Her ankles were crossed and hung over one of the edges, keeping her balance as she leaned into the sky, painting silver and gold stars. She was articulate and graceful. She wasn’t worried about who was watching her or the lengths of her strokes. It was like she was illustrating something that had already been created and she was just filling in the truth.
People always tell you this junk about how you’re looking into the past when you see the stars and explain the science of light-years. And, I generally am in favor of knowledge of whatever kind in order to support belief but there she was and I didn’t need any other sort of explanation. It just was. She was there painting stars, and then, as if it was part of the plan, she began painting something else.
It was as if a child had tipped his crayon box over into the sky, a crayon box that had been left out in the sun turning it into melted wax. She spread the melted wax with her fingers in different directions. Blue violet and indigo. Fuschia and Sea Green. Turquoise and orchid and a hundred other colors. Stars burst from clouds and their golden sparks rained down through the atmosphere until it turned into cool, light drops that brushed my face before falling to the sordid bricks in the sidewalk. It was like watching the creation of something. I wasn’t sure what I was seeing but it felt mythological and real, magical and true all at the same time. I just knew I somehow was a part of it.
And then she did something I didn’t expect. She began to paint with crimson and firebrick and forest green, grey and black. And something in me grew fearful. I could feel my heart pressing slightly harder against my chest, my breath catching. Then she ran palms of paint across the fierce, new clouds and as radiant as they were, I felt uneasy and as if an invisible leash tugged me back to my stoop. I’d just stepped under the awning when the clouds she’d painted, those clouds that had been so beautiful and graceful, ripped themselves open and a crimson flood of sparks fell toward the earth.