Grade: 8th grade
Age: 13

Stars On Their Own

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It was quiet. I was lying in bed, waiting to fall asleep. The room smelled of crisp air. The stars flickered from my window. It felt as if they were so close to each other, but in reality they had so much distance between them. My whole life I have been fascinated by the stars, these bright, shining giants, beautiful even from millions of miles away. There was something about space that made me feel big even though I was a little speck in space.
The quiet was disrupted by shouts coming from my parent’s bedroom. Loud, angry, hate filled shouts. My head wasn’t asking what was going on, I knew. I wish I didn’t know. I wish this wasn’t routine. The yelling had stopped. Silence filled the room. It wasn’t a good silence. It was a tormenting silence. It was a silence that made everything seem dim. The stars, the moon, the sounds of the crickets, everything peaceful. The silence defined the flaws of the room. Each crack that ran down the wall, the pockets of air folded into the ceiling. The silence stood along, mocking me with it’s lack of response.
I heard feet shuffling down the hall. Mom stood in the doorway with a sleeping bag in her hand. She grabbed the extra blanket and pillow from my bed. She laid out the sleeping bag and stuffed herself inside. There was a sense of sadness coming from her. Her face was tense. Not a single word came out of her mouth. I asked what happened. No response. I asked again.
“Your dad and I got into a fight.”
That was all she said, nothing more. I slipped out of bed and gave mom a hug. I tried to comfort her, make her feel okay, but I wasn’t sure if it was doing anything.
“Where is dad? Why did you guys fight?” I needed more detail to help, but she said nothing more than we got into a fight. It was usual for this happen. Every little thing they do leads to a fight. The T.V. was too loud or one was simply being annoying. I hated it though. It scared me.
The night wasn’t nice anymore. The stars weren’t as bright. There was even more distance between them now. The little speck became smaller and smaller.
I didn’t know how to help my mom. I didn’t know if I could.
“Don’t worry too much. Go to sleep.” said mom.
How could I not worry? I care too much to not worry. I lay back down and tried to sleep. I was on the verge of falling asleep, but I was disturbed once more. This time it was a forceful knock. Mom pulled herself out of the sleeping bag and rushed to the door. I peeked out to see who it was. The police. They weren’t supposed to be here.
I was spying on them through the little crack in the hallway door. One of the policemen yelled for my dad, while the other three were talking to my mom, flustering her with questions. I didn’t know what to do. I heard bits and pieces. Mom said dad was upsetting her and dad said the same about mom. They sounded like children arguing over crayons.
The sound of crying was coming from the living room. I knew mom was hurt. I wanted to make her feel okay, like she wasn’t the only soul on Earth. I wanted to make sure she knew she had me. I heard the cracks in dad’s voice. It occurred to me that mom wasn’t the only one hurt and in need of comfort.
I shot up fast and started to walk towards the living room but mom was blocking the way. I could see all the policemen gathered around my dad lecturing him. I assumed mom’s lecture was over. She took a step in front of me then walked towards my room expecting me to follow. She sat down next to me causing the bed to sink.
“What’s going on? Why are they here?” I asked.
“The neighbors called. They said we were too loud. Dad told them why we were being loud. Now they are asking questions, figuring out what to do.”
She began talking about the imperfections of our family. She grabbed me, hugged me tight and didn’t let go. I knew what she said was true. I saw the imperfections everyday. I felt tears come out of my eyes, then more. The taste of the salty water brought back memories from when I was younger. There were even more fights. I was locked in my room just like I am now, only because they were afraid of too much exposure as a young child. Exposure is to experience something and experience uses not only sight but your hearing. The noise was more than enough for me.
Mom slowly started to let go of me. She somehow made me feel like nothing bad was happening, like my family wasn’t being torn apart. I felt that everything was going to be okay. Not back to normal, because nothing was ever normal.
There was no longer any yelling. The only noise was the booming voices of the policemen. One of the officers was standing in between my parents pushing both of his hands away from himself. It meant they had to stay away from each other. My parents were like stars. They were the stars Sirius and Rigel, 8.674 light years apart. They could seem so close to each other, but they weren’t nearly as close as they looked. They were both bright and fascinating, but in their own ways. They shined on their own. There was no need for the other.
The police were gone. Mom looked heartbroken. Dad did too. They knew that this family was no longer a family. I knew. It was being broken apart. We were stars in its final stage. How could I live with their distance?

4 thoughts on “Stars On Their Own

  1. Several beautifully-written phrases, like “the silence defined the flaws of the room.” Painful story of a disintegrating family, using distant stars as metaphor.

  2. Enjoyed this story even though we’ve read this conflict before (angry parents fighting) as well as this metaphor (stars) before. I liked the narrator thoughtful, relatable, honest, understated narrator. Liked the mom’s silence regarding talking about the fight.
    Liked the image of mom coming into kid’s room to sleep. The police visit doesn’t come off as melodramatic – believable that neighbors could call. Also, liked that neither parent is a monster … especially liked the ending as writer connects the stars to her parents in really interesting ways. “How could I live with their distance?” A common issue for the child of divorce. Well done.

  3. The end of a marriage—the fights between the parents lead the neighbors to call the police, and the parents realize they cannot get along. Too many inconsistencies in this piece—the idea that the mom comes and sleeps in the child’s room after the fight (and needs to be comforted by the child) and then the mom helps the kid feel like things are getting back to normal.

  4. Parents fight, and kid is stuck in the middle, noticing their distance. Apt and poignant metaphor of stars throughout. Narrator seems so young, though. It would be interesting if the metaphor were used in a more sophisticated way, if the narrator could speak more eloquently about what he’s seeing and thinking.

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