“How do you catch the stars?” she asked.
The childish voice lisped the question. The little toes curled in the soft grass. The curious eyes captured the wonder of glinting diamonds flecked in a darkening sky.
But I could not answer. And so I chose to reply instead.
“You can’t catch the stars.” I buttoned my voice into my best ‘I-am-the-reasonable-adult-in-this-conversation’ tone.
“You can’t catch the stars,” I repeated. “They’re too far away. Too foreign. Too, well… too much.”
And with that the conversation was closed.
But her mind was not, and she spoke again into the velvety darkness.
“But I meant how do YOU catch the stars. Because… sometimes… I come outside at night just to catch them.”
There was no condemnation in her tone. No judgement of my rational disbelief. Just a calm, factual statement of impossibility.
“I see.” I really didn’t.
There was a pause while she wandered and I wondered.
“So,” I adjusted my collar to fit a ‘midly-interested-but-still-confident-in-my-superior-knowledge’ tone, and dared to return the question.
“So, how do YOU catch the stars?”
She glanced at me sideways, smiled patiently, lifted chubby fingers to twirl in the silvery glow.
“I catch the stars with my hands.”
And with that she was off, skipping through the inky tendrils of night, dancing and giggling beneath the ebony froth of the sky, chasing and grasping and catching the stars with tiny hands of joy.
I watched. I stood, frozen on that narrow trapeze wire between logic and wonder. And as I wavered in solitary disbelief, I saw it.
A shooting star, falling from the heavens.
It fell, curving and glowing in fierce and glorious descent. Painting its blazing light across a black canvas sky. Brushing the star dust from its trail and shaking the clouds with tinkling music.
Down, down it fell; closer and closer still.
Its glow lit up my eyes.
Its beauty held my breath.
Its wonder lifted my hand to catch its fall.
And suddenly I was there. Lost in the moment, captured in the magic, defying the impossible and tasting its sweetness.
Catching the stars.
© Emma McGeorge, Oct 2015