Wink of an Eye by Elizabeth Anders (Contest Runner Up: Nora Roberts Young Writers Institute)

When I was a little girl, I used to dance in the fields under the stars and pretend that the moon was smiling at me. It was like she was ready to wave a magic wand to take me away from the home where my parents argued and smoke rolled out of my brother’s bedroom. As the years passed, however, it quickly became clear that the moon was too busy chasing the sun around the world to notice a tiny girl who could not escape from her own family.

It was during the winter which had frozen both our hearts and the ground that the life of my mother was taken by means of a premeditated suicide. From then on, whispers circled around me in our small town about how it was my fault she had died. To them, I was the one who caused her to pick up the pills.

Everything was public, and the only time anything was private was when I was around my father and brother. It made me nauseous to be around them, but they still provided a brief pause from the dark cloud that seemed to circle my head every day.

As I grew older I established my own whimsical musings into poetry, even though I only published a little. Whatever I did publish was nothing that would tell of the secrets I kept locked up in my soul. Nobody knew of those, even the numerous friends I shared precious moments with.

When I left town for good, my family stayed behind. They did not understand my desire to travel or my love for writing. They could not comprehend my belief that the moon was a true part of my reality, as they felt she was not part of any reality.

Hairs grew gray and dreams dried up as the years passed. I died in a town that nobody even knew of unless you landed right upon it. Nobody missed me; my father had passed away years ago and my brother had overdosed on his many drugs.

When I passed away, light expanded past my eyes into the universe beyond, and I had never felt so alive before. My ribcage was ripped out and replaced with something more durable. Something that was better built for a star took its place. A new name was branded into my wrist, ‘Colette’, and another star by the name of Desirae offered me a bent wing to climb up into the sky.

I took it and we travelled like I had always wanted to. We made our way to the heavens where all the other stars were dancing around the moon and clinking glasses full of wine while laughing merrily.

“I found her.” Desirae stated before pushing me into the center of their circle.

I was not used to flying however, and quickly fell before I felt someone catch me. I looked up to find the moon, the one I had dreamt of for years and lost faith in, holding me.

“You’re real,” I whispered in awe.

She laughed and pulled me back up to set me in a chair that seemed to be held by the sky itself. “Of course I’m real, honey. I was always there, you know, looking out for you. We all were.” She motioned to the other stars who were still twirling around the sky. To humans they seemed to be in place, but truthfully they had left ghosts of themselves behind as they slipped from their bodies to celebrate above the earth. If one of the stars would forget to leave their ghost, humans would then see what many referred to as a shooting star.

“Now, why don’t you tell me about those secrets of yours?” the moon said.

“You know?” My eyes widened and I glanced down at my glowing body that seemed to have taken the shape of a star.

“Oh, haven’t you heard darling? When all of the stars lived as humans they held three different lives: public, private, and secret. Since becoming stars they have told their secrets.” The moon stopped to look around, searching for examples. “You see Daniel over there? When he lived, he was the greatest movie star of his time. However, what many people did not know was that his wife was an alcoholic. Daniels’ heart simply grew too weak to deal with it all.” She paused to search again. “And Marilyn over there? Her father was a serial rapist. That poor girl went through so much with the media and drove straight into another car to end it all. The humans called it an accident but all of us up here know better.” She stopped once more. “And Desirae? An abusive husband who was the CEO of one of the biggest companies in their day.”

“You see, Colette, we all lie, we all cheat, and we all steal. Most of all we keep secrets. Up here, our mysteries seep out of our skin so we can sparkle and fly across the sky.” The moon looked wistfully across the night sky to where a tiny ball of light could be found: the sun. “Even I have some secrets, but for a few hours while it is night I can forget them all and just live.”

I found this was true as the years went by, and I spent all my time in the heavens talking to other stars with heartbreaking backstories. Every night we twinkled in the sky and enjoyed the freedom that came from spilling secrets and marveling at the private lives of those below. So, think of me tonight when you look up at the sky and find a little star winking goodbye to the tragic life of secrets she once held.

Elizabeth Anders has attended both the Nora Robert’s Young Writers Institute at Hagerstown Community College and Barbara Ingram’s Advanced Creative Writing Class. She was a runner-up in the Young Writers Contest with her submission “Winking Goodbye.” When she is not writing, she is either reading one of the many books she loves or exploring other forms of art.