I have often said I am not romantic. There are those who'd argue with me for reasons of which I find baseless. After all, the proof in the pudding of my statement is in the stars.
Years back, another life, another time, an age of wonder-but aren't they all?-there was a girl I was a little enraptured with. Luckily, she liked me back, because one-way love affairs suck with more power than super-massive black holes. When the confessions of amore were made, I gave a promise; that I would love her until the stars fell from the sky.
Our first moment of intimacy was along the banks of a canal under a big sky. An owl called lonely music into the machinery of the night and freight trains trundled by. Overhead, the Persid meteor shower, at its most brilliant, rained down in the matter of fireballs and celestial coins.
"The stars are falling from the sky, baby," she whispered into my ear at one point.
The fact I tell that tale in tongues of bittersweet and far-flung memory indicates how it all played out. It could've just been chaos. A funny bit of timing. Perhaps with that proclamation of affection, I spoke in the tongues of prophecy, and some things were dead before they were truly ever born.
Choose your superstition...
A weak cool front moved through and clouds had covered the sky in a blanket of cool ominousness, threatening to spill out rain, which never fell. I went through the motions of obligations, the whole time hoping the sky would clear by dark. I was intending to be up late, or at least rouse myself in the small hours to step outside. There was something I meant to see.
Through the movements of wind and cloud and a spice of chaos, the sky did begin to clear up as I began my bicycle ride back up-valley. The air was cool, but not unpleasant. The narrow-gage was doing a dinner train and some of the wait staff was killing time in the lower depot's parking lot-I can always tell this by the acrid smell of cigarette smoke when riding up. One of the waitresses, a sweet young woman with an owl pendant, smiled warmly at me as I passed by.
"The skies cleared up for you, baby," she called out in a friendly tone. I smirked back and waved, as I sometimes do during these brief interactions.
The sunset was striking; flame and pastel against the Roof of the World, red-clay brick and gold to the east. In the fading daylight, the mountainsides took on a dreamworld-like quality. Once more, I smiled, reveling in one of those and I fucking live here! moments.
It was a late dinner of chorizo and potato tinga with wine. Dark chocolate with raspberries for dessert. I curled up on the couch to read a little bit of a short story anthology I've been reading on and off. The tired of a day of obligations, of four miles worth of bicycle riding and a nearly six-hundred foot elevation gain began to set in. I caught myself drifting off.
"We'll step out in an hour or two," I said to Sabina before dozing.
It was nearly four hours later when I woke. The small hours. Sabina was sleeping on the other side of the couch. I made a minor attempt to wake her, but to no avail. Perhaps it was for the better. Although she's watched the Persids with me once or twice, I still remember the one time with falling stars with the one girl, remembering how it ended badly. I fear jinxing what I have, but perhaps that's baseless superstition.
I stood out front, taking in the night sky as framed by eleven and twelve-thousand foot peaks. Part of me wanted to go back in and just go to bed. It was almost chilly out. I should have at least thrown on a sweater.
Then, in rapid-fire succession, I saw them; the meteors, raining down in the manner of fireballs and celestial coins. A wide smile crossed my thin face, full of awe at the pure wonder of the cosmos. Here was the Divine, here was magic made manifest in form of burning rock and ice.
"Hello, my pretty," I whispered into the silence of the night.
I was outside but a few minutes. Just a few falling stars. It was okay, I was tired. I went inside, kissed Sabina on the cheek, and went to bed, dreaming of stars, striking sunsets, and the girl I never made any attempts to be romantic with, despite what others might say.