I lived with my older brother and my aunt on a small island off the coast of Italy. The island wasn't big (I could walk around the entire island in less than a day, though I was a child) and not many people lived on it. Those that did owned large plots of land where they would farm, run a family business, or simply build hotels and houses on it to sell off. Back then, I was still a child (I was only eight), but I would often help my aunt with her little shops. She owned a sweets shop and a bakery. I helped around with the baking and decorating at the bakery and advertising for the sweets shop. One night, I felt restless and couldn't sleep. My aunt's house was on top of a cliff that was above a sandy white beach. I clambered down the rocks onto the sand. Tonight was a new moon, and the night air felt good on my skin. I lied down on my back on a flat rock that slightly resembled a table and stared up at the starry night sky. Even though I was so young, stargazing was the one thing I could enjoy the most on that little Italian island. Somehow, watching the starry night sky above me calmed me down a lot. I was subconsciously aware that a person was sitting next to me, but I didn't really pay attention. Finally curious, I glanced over at them. It was a boy around my age with pure white hair and closed eyes.
"Are you lonely?" I asked him. He opened his eyes to look at me. His eyes were a liquid gold that was mesmerizing to look at.
"No, not especially. I'm always alone. It's been like this for a long time." he said. even though he told me he was used to it, his eyes seemed sad and lonely. We sat in silence for a little while.
"What are you doing out so late?" I asked. The silence was stifling. I wanted to keep up the conversation with him.
"I should be asking you that. You're only a child. It's dangerous for children to be outside at midnight on a new moon." he told me. I bristled up indignantly.
"I'm not a child! Don't treat me like one!" I protested. He began laughing, but he stopped abruptly.
"You're not scared of me?" he asked, and he stared straight into my eyes curiously. I stared back for a moment before opening my mouth to speak.
"Why should I be scared? You're not scary to me at all," I told him. "In fact, I think you're really nice!" He smiled.
"Would you like to take a walk along the beach for a while?" He offered me his hand. I nodded and take his hand. We walked together for a few minutes, listening to the ocean waves crashing against the rocks in the distance. At one point, we stopped and looked up at the stars again.
"The stars here are pretty, aren't they?" I asked him. He became silent for a moment.
"My mother used to tell me that each star represents a loved one that has already died. She said that the brightest pair in the sky will be my father and my sister." We both stared at the stars, at the loved ones that are gone.
"How many stars do you think there are in the sky?" I asked.
"Thousands. I don't think you can count all the stars in the sky in one night." he replied. I looked down at my feet.
"What about the grains of sand on this beach? Are they dead loved ones too?" He looked down at the sand.
"No, the sand represents the people that are still living. Each one of them is a person somewhere on this world that hasn't died yet." I giggled.
"Then we're stepping on them all?" I asked. He laughed.
"I guess we are." We walked silently across the beach and back, until we were back where we had started. The stars in the sky were beginning to disappear and a few stray rays of light were beginning to peek out from the horizon. He looked up at the sky sadly.
"It's almost dawn. I have to go before the sun rises. I can't stay here." My eyes widened. He had to leave already, even though we had only just begun to get to know each other.
"What? No! Stay here and watch the sunrise with me!" I begged. He shook his head in a desolate and melancholy way.
"I can't watch the sunrise with you."
"Why? At least tell me why you can't stay!" He stayed silent for a long time. Finally he opened his mouth to reply.
"Because I'm a ghost." And with that, he disappears, leaving me staring where he had been standing only moments ago. I have never seen him since then. People wonder why I am always careful about where I step on the beach, or why I pray to the stars at night. They are the people that have never stopped to wonder where all the stars come from, and where their loved ones go. They simply listen to whatever their religious leader says and accepts it. They are the people that never stop and wonder.