The Stars And What I Am

My body feels heavy as I force it to move down the pavement. Or maybe it isn't me forcing it, but I know that the tired limbs stretching out beneath me aren't moving by their own will. I watch my feet crawl away from me and sink back towards my body, trying to think of the reason why I was walking to her usual meeting spot at three in the morning.

The stars were still out and the sky was still a void, swallowing up potential shine. I feel a bit jealous that stars outlast themselves. I know that what I'm seeing on the ground may not be what exists outside the suffocating layer of atmosphere that hugs the Earth. I know that a star could be dead, but its gleam is still reaching us from years ago.

I hear Min's voice before I see her bright face.

"Over here! Hurry up! Stop looking down!" She says. The three separate phrases come out as one hurried sentence. The force from earlier pushes my legs to go faster and soon I am at the rim of the sidewalk with Min standing on grass in front of me.

"Hi." She says with a smile.

"Why did you ask me to come out here so early?" I ask.

"Or so late." She corrects. "Some people would say it's…" She looks at the watch clasped around her wrist. "…3:17 at night and some say it's the morning." She giggles. I expect her to stop when I make it evident that I'm not going to laugh with her, but she doesn't.

"It's not funny. You must've wanted something, right?" I say.

"I need to want something in order to see you?" The worry in her voice surprises me and her innocent expression makes me blush.

She grins and grabs my hand. I try to yank it away. She feels this tug and retracts her rejected hand to her chest, rubbing it as though it had been injured.

"Let's go." She says. The happy tone that often rings in her voice sounds clouded.

"Go where?" I ask.

"There." She states, pointing to a tree that sits in the center of the field which consists of mainly uncut grass and overgrown shrubberies. She starts walking and I follow. I think of asking her why exactly she called me out here, but I feel as though that question has already been answered by her look.

The weeds scratch my knees as we stomp through the wide field. Several feet behind us is a short wooden fence and further than that is a lawn and home and further than that is a road.

Underneath the tree's stubby and leafy branches is the skeleton of umbrella. Min brushes her fingers against the bare metal extensions.

"Gross," I retort. "That probably has germs on it."

She only laughs at my warning then picks up the handle of the useless umbrella, holding it above her head so that it appears a thin silver arm is extending out from her own, with five metallic digits curling over her, attempting to guard her from the moon's beam. "This is perfect." She says, skipping through the hideous overgrowth of the field.

"What is?" I ask while trudging after her. A scowl is sewed onto my face and hers has been cut into with a smile. I want to go home, but I won't. I can't.

"This parasol." She says, glancing up at the spaces where the umbrella's hood should be. She twirls the handle in between her palms and gains the appearance of a helicopter with a tall and skinny rotor. "This place." She adds, motioning to the ground. After breathing in, she says, "This moment."

I open my mouth to say something, but she stops me when she says, "Well, these moments."

I want to tell her that there is nothing perfect about any of this, but she runs off, giggling. I march after her through the lanky plants that prick and poke at me, nearly drawing blood from my legs, but they don't have enough point to them.

"Slow down!" I call out.

"Why?" She chuckles, twirling her umbrella.

"Put that thing down." I tell her, but instead she defiantly raises it into the air.

With her arm extended towards the sky at full length, she asks, "Who do you think left this here?"

"Put it down."

"Why do you think they left it?"

"It's useless."

"But why here?"

I don't answer her, because I don't know either – though I want to. Once more, I beg her to put it back where it was, to leave it alone.

"But it'll get lonely." She jokes.

I say nothing.

Min dances towards the tree, turning the moonlight parasol this way and that, possibly trying to perform the dance number Singin' in the Rain, but I can picture a few other songs from the musical that fit her much better. I bite my lip, imaging Min with a goofy grin and the words 'Make'em laugh' awkwardly flying from her mouth.

"What's so funny?" She asks as she peeks at me from behind the tree.

I feel unmasked and quickly lie, "Nothing."

I gulp, begging in my head that my guilty expression doesn't show. I don't question why I feel ashamed for teasing her in my head or lying to her.

My guilty look must've been spread across my face since she says, "Come on, tell me!" Then she threateningly points the tip of her moonlight parasol at me.

"You won't find it funny. Now, put that thing back." I tell her.

I can feel my face heat up when she sticks her bottom lip out, pouting.

"Fine, then." She says, strutting away in a huff and not in the direction of where she had found her umbrella.

"Hey," I call out. "Where are you…?" My words slip back into my throat when she turns to look at me with a sly expression. Her lips stretch into a playful smile before she darts towards a corner where the woods and the short fence meet. She laughs.

As I watch her figure shrink into the distance I wonder whether I should follow her or not. Or rather, why I should. The same force from earlier nudges at my knees, urging the muscles of my legs to work. A single gray cloud passes over our heads, blocking out the shine trickling down from above. Min gets smaller and smaller, but her laughter echoes in my head and my legs move. Whether by a will of their own or not, I don't know.

We go to the edge of the field. It is sprinkled with trees and if you walk deep enough into them, you would get lost in a thick forest.

"Look at this!" Min shouts, pointing at a pile of aged used tires. Some of them have rips or are cut in half. In their centers are dried leaves and old rain water.

"It's a throne!" She exclaims.

Min sets the umbrella skeleton down and leaps on top of the tire pile.
"I am queen of the world!" She announces then laughs.

Something in my head tells me not to doubt this fact. I plop down onto her Earth's floor, feeling my body sink into the reaching vegetation then place my hand on the useless moonlight parasol.

As her smile lights the shadows casted from leaves and branches and the sun slowly inches above the horizon, I realize that Min will surely outlast herself.