Now this is a pretty night. Not at all like a normal one. This is the kind you can only see when you’re standing in the middle of nowhere.
I’ve seen folks raised in the city stand on fifty acres and say, “Lord, I had no idea there were THAT many stars up there.”
I remember hiking along the pond bank with my friend. His father died when a piece of sheetmetal cut open his leg. He bled to death and left three kids behind.
My friend was long past crying about it, and I knew exactly how that felt. My father had passed two years earlier. There comes a moment when you’ve wept as much as you ever will. Anything after that is just for show.
Anyway, that night, we were supposed to be doing boy things. Gigging frogs, wearing our headlamps, chatting about girls, sneaking beer from the fridge. We did nothing of the sort.
In fact, we hardly spoke. Neither of us felt much like talking about childish things.
I waited for my pal to speak, but he just flipped off his headlamp and watched the sky. So, we stood there in the dark. And that’s when we saw it. It shot from one end of the sky to the other. It moved so fast it looked like a long white streak.
“You see that?” he asked.
As it happens, it was the first shooting star I ever saw. Daddy told me about them, that if you wished on one, you’d get what you asked for. But since I’d never seen one, I didn’t make a wish.
My friend did.
“What’d you wish?” I asked.
His face got serious.“Something for you.”
“Yeah. I wished all the folks in the world, who’re like you and me, wouldn’t feel sad no more.”
I didn’t have the heart to tell him that it doesn’t work that way. You only get one wish. Not millions.
But, that was long ago. A lot has changed. I’ve gotten older. I have health insurance, a mortgage, and arthritis in my left foot. I can’t remember the last time I went frog gigging, it’s been decades.
I still think about those awkward boys with their little headlamps, unsure of their own futures. It’s a miracle we made it this far, and that I’m not sad anymore.
But sometimes, when I look at the purple sky, I wonder just where in the hell I might be if my friend hadn’t made that wish.
I had no idea there were that many stars up there.