Summer Universe

“Look at the stars,” he said softly. The words trickled over her the way raindrops chased each other down a window pane. She turned over in the grass, hearing the dry grass crackle under her like fireworks.

“Take him and cut him out in little stars, / And he will make the face of heaven so fine / That all the world will be in love with night / And pay no worship to the garish sun,” she quoted while looking at him, her nose buried in the grass. She wanted to reach out to him and touch his grey v-neck shirt, pulling him closer so she could smell his clean-clothes-and-summer-night cologne. Playing with perspective, she raised her index finger, pretending to poke his stomach. It offered much-needed comic relief to the moment.

“Hey, what are you doing?” he asked, leaning on his left arm to take a good look at the girl next to him. He reached out with his large hand and swatted at her finger. If only she could be as impulsive and as spontaneous.

“Quoting Shakespeare,” she said while wrinkling her nose. He stopped looking at her by that time, his eyes trained back on the faraway stars. She didn’t say so, but she kind-of wished he would keep looking at her again.

They were quiet for a few moments. The only sounds were the summer breeze combing through the stiff summer grass and his deep breaths. They were consistent and steady. She finally laid back down, a few grasses poking her through the thin cotton of her t-shirt. She shifted around, trying to get comfortable. He laid quietly, listening to her move around. He had already guessed her reason for being so listless. Often, he felt that he knew her better than she knew herself.

“Hey,” she said softly, her minty breath swirling with the cooling summer night breeze. He didn’t respond. They knew the minutes to be together ticked by slowly but surely. Relationships always ended, death-wise or break-up-wise or any number of reasons. They always ended. Surely, in a decades, his breathing would slow. His breathing would be regulated and quiet instead of consistent and loud. He would be confined to a retirement home only to die singularly. He didn’t mean that he would die as a single man, but everyone, on their trip to death, was alone. No one would accompany the slow, tedious process of death with their own. It was too much to ask. He didn’t say his thoughts out loud because he knew she would not want to hear them.

For all her smarts, she could be quite stupid. She loved Shakespeare but only because quoting Shakespeare was the new “cool.” She had petty words for him, which he once found as a reason for endearment. But all good things end, and their relationship was no exception.

He was a star-gazer, the real dreamer. They were dreamers, but she was of the fake breed. But he never said so because he was a “gentleman.”

She was quiet while he thought. She knew he was thinking deeply from the way his thumb would trace the outline of his index finger. It was one of his quirks. She could not help her own reflection over the moment.

He was the true one, but she was the genuine one. She told him what she thought and didn’t pretend or try to be the definition of the word “gentleman.” He was silly to feel the need to be different after they started their formal relationship. She wanted the old him back, the one who told her what he thought and didn’t jump at playing gentleman. But she never said so. It was cute, and she enjoyed it at first. But all good things end, and this was no exception.

“Mmmm,” she murmured, trying to break the silence. She wanted him to speak, to break himself from the mold he held himself in. His face turned in the grass. He craned his neck to get a good look at her.

“Yeah?”

She didn’t know how to respond. He sighed and this time his breath mingled with the summer air particles that thought they were invincible. How wrong they were. Whether he was thinking about the summer air particles or the two people watching the stars, he was not sure. Perhaps, it was both. Things were started so they could end.

Despite the fairytale they wanted to believe in and the faith they placed in each other, nothing was infinite. There was a time for all to end, and she reflected on this horrible fact. An onslaught of emotions started to conflict across her expressive face. He must have noticed  the quiet and felt it was strange because he lifted his head to look at her with his dull, brown eyes.

“Lilah?” he asked, his voice traveling through the impenetrable moment. She tried to say something, tried her hardest to force words out, but all that left her rose-lipped mouth was a choking noise. It was a horrible noise similar to a dying animal or something equally pitiful. In other contexts, the sound would have been funny, but during the summer night when they laid with stars, it was a noise that made his emotions detach from his body. He wanted nothing more than to comfort her—to make the noise leave. But, things were meant to end. He watched, detached, as if his body were a separate component from his emotions.

“Yeah?” she finally managed to choke out. She stopped making noise because her teeth were biting her lip, not letting her mouth move. She didn’t trust her mouth to not start bawling.

He watched her front left tooth, the one that was chipped and made her seem more adorable in his opinion, bite down harder. But his body was moving.

“I’m sorry,” he said, hoping the full meaning of his words would reach her but knowing they never would. Maybe, in another life, in another universe, they would be in this endless moment with summer grass crackling underneath them and murmuring phrases of love to each other. But here, in this world which always was there to tear apart beautiful things, they would not end the night asleep in her backyard.

“Shall we finish packing?” he asked. She sat up by that time, her chin trembling. Still, she nodded yes. He walked into the house without looking back, knowing he would have pulled her tight into his arms. He knew the inevitable that would soon occur, the words he would have to spit from his mouth and the pain that would follow. They were inevitable. Fate was inevitable and always took its revenge from the most innocent.

She followed, her bare feet crunching on the prickly summer grass. He was already at the door. A soft, yellow light poured out from the house, basking his form in an almost-silhouette. He waited until she was two steps away from the open door before walking into the house. She followed, silently but dutifully, knowing the words that would await her and condemn her.

The white wooden door closed shut, marking the end of a relationship and a chapter in the two teens’ lives. A cool summer breeze filtered around the backyard, rustling the summer grass. The stars kept twinkling, unaware of the distant, parallel universe where two teens were about to break each other’s hearts.

But, one million light years away, in a parallel universe, a boy and girl laid in the prickly summer grass. They murmured sweet phrases to each other while falling asleep to the crickets.

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