The Star and the Ocean: Chapter Eleven

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As crazy as the circumstances were, May couldn’t suppress a small laugh as it bubbled to the surface.

“What is wrong with me?”

Again, she looked to the door. As her heart rate finally began to settle so did her thoughts.

When she told Em she wanted to get to know her better, she’d had a feeling there was something different – something Em wasn’t saying. A small, unrealized part of May had dared to imagine that this haunting vagabond might have some fantastic story to tell, but she never could have imagined it would be… Well, whatever this was.

But she had asked. And, if May was being honest with herself, she still wanted to know.

***

Down on the sand, Em looked for a way to calm her nerves.

“Great,” she muttered. “Guess I fucked this one up.”

She wandered, looking for a way to occupy herself while waiting. A stray branch of driftwood inspired her; she’d build a fire.

Collecting bits and pieces of wood and branches, Em made trips back and forth to deposit the spoils of her labor in a pile a few paces from beneath May’s deck. She figured she’d set up a small camp and let a bit of light burn in the night; wondering subconsciously if it might make the beach more inviting.

Each trip back and forth brought her further and further into the forested perimeter beyond the beach. She didn’t think she had wandered that long or far, but on her last trip it took her a while to get back to the sand. When she finally came back into the open, the sight of a figure in the moonlight made her jump.

“May?” she called softly. “Is that you?”

The figure shifted slightly and waited a moment before saying anything.

“Yeah,” May answered. “It’s me.”

Breathing a sigh of relief, Em hurried out to meet her, stopping short on the opposite side of her makeshift fire pit. May still looked frightened, but her arms were folded tightly in front of her and there was a sternness in her face that made Em think fear wasn’t the only thing she was feeling.

Em set the wood in her arms down gently and cleared her throat.

“Thank you,” she smiled. “For coming down. I -“

May raised her hand sharply. Em stopped. The action was firm, but Em saw a slight tremble.

“You said you’d tell me anything I wanted to know.” May’s voice was low but steadier than her hand.

Em nodded slowly. “That’s right.”

May looked over her shoulder and out across the ocean. Shuffling her toes in the sand, she spoke without looking at Em.

“How…” Her voice cracked slightly. “What…”

Em shifted uncomfortably. She felt awful watching May struggle to articulate what was clearly an awkward question – likely one she never imagined having to ask anyone. It probably wasn’t much different than when she had saved Em from having to ask about her family. Em decided to return the favour.

“It’s kind of a long story. Do you wanna sit maybe?”

“No,” May tensed up. “And I’d appreciate it if you didn’t call me that.”

Em blinked. “Call you what?”

Even in the dark, Em could tell that May was blushing.

“Sorry,” she muttered down at the sand. “I thought you were calling me Maybe. It’s what my family calls me. I just – nevermind.”

“Aw, that’s cute!” Em cooed in spite of herself.

May glared.

Em took the hint. Clearing her throat, she straightened herself and tried again.

“What do you know about the Stars?”

May raised her eyebrows. “The stars?” She peered up at the glittering canopy above them.

“Not the flaming-orbs-burning-out-in-space stars. The Stars. Capital S.” Em felt like she was floundering. Why did everything sound better in her head? “You know… Mythologically speaking?”

May frowned. “On Hoku, legends say all natural beings are entities in their own right. There’s the story of the Moon and how she fell in love with the Ocean, and the Sun with the Earth. And one couple brought about the flora and the other the fauna. But the Stars…” she looked up again, “they control fate and destiny.”

“Right!” Em snapped her fingers and pointed at May excitedly. “Yes, pretty much. I mean, I don’t know about the Sun and the Moon or anything like that, but the Stars – that’s something I know a little bit about.”

May hesitated. “Okay, but what does that have to do with anything?”

Em rolled her eyes and shrugged. “Well, considering their job is to maintain order in the universe I’d say it has a lot to do with everything.”

“That’s not what I mean, Em.” May growled through clenched teeth. “You said you would tell me anything I wanted to know. I want to know what you are, not hear some bedtime story! Why are we talking about the Stars?”

“Because it’s true,” Em blurted, startled by May’s sudden hostility. “It’s all real.”

It was such a ludicrous thing to say that May laughed, loud and hard. “Let’s say that’s true -“

“It is!” Em insisted. “Believe me, I should know!”

“Oh?” There was a dangerous look in May’s narrowed eyes. “And why is that?”

“Because I am one, May.” Em snapped. She was done with being delicate.

“I am a Star.”

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