“Starry Eyed”


I haven’t been listening to the radio much this summer. When I do, I’m usually in my car, and it’s usually to one of my city’s two pop music stations. You can not listen to pop radio for two months and then hear the same songs when you tune into it again.

However, today I discovered Ellie Goulding while in my car, listening to the radio. I had heard the name, knew she was a singer, but hadn’t really given her music much thought. Then I heard “Lights,” and realized what a different (different good) voice and unique style she has. She almost reminds me of those Indie rock psychedelic bands like MGMT, only she’s a solo act (and a girl).

While exploring her songs on YouTube, I came across the video for Starry Eyed. (Watch it here.) Another great song by her, but what really struck me is how much it reminded me of one of the few books I’ve actually finished writing, Star Eyes. Especially with this video, it’s like the frickin’ theme song. So, I decided to post one of the chapters from Star Eyes before I return to focusing on The Wild Ones. Perhaps at some point I’ll even post Star Eyes in its entirety, although I wanted to play around with the POV and verb tenses first.

(BTW, if some of the characters sound familiar, they are the same characters mentioned in my first post -Ava, Tyler, and Celeste. So this is basically some back story to that excerpt, which would appear in a sequel.)

Also, please feel free to rate (above) and/or like (below) my posts. 🙂 I love getting feedback.

***

Monday night was crisp with the onset of autumn. Celeste kept the passenger side window of Ava’s car open to let the cool night air hit her face. A distinct feeling always overwhelmed her when fall arrived, a mixture of anticipation and tranquility as she watched the leaves on the trees change from green to gold.

“It looks like something’s going on at the park,” Ava said. Celeste snapped out of her reverie. She was surprised they had made it to Hickory Park already; Ava was navigating the side streets at about fifteen miles per hour, her hands gripping the steering wheel precisely at the ten and two o’clock positions. As the car turned the corner, the headlights swept over a small crowd gathered in the middle of the park.

Ava parked and popped the trunk, and they climbed out of the car. Celeste lifted her telescope out of the trunk and slammed it shut. They crept to the edge where the sidewalk met the grass.

“What are they doing?” Ava wondered.

“I think they’re doing the same thing we were planning to do,” Celeste realized. People had broken off into twos and threes and were setting up telescopes all around the park. Some had binoculars like the pair Celeste wore around her neck and were already scanning the black and blue sky.

Celeste sensed movement out of the corner of her eye. Someone was walking toward them.

“I thought that was you,” Dave said as he got closer. “I didn’t know you were in the Astronomy Club.” He had his hands in the pockets of his brown leather jacket.

Celeste knew that Ava was looking from Dave to her in confusion, but Celeste couldn’t speak. Was it possible for your heart to leap up into your throat?

When Celeste still hadn’t said anything, Ava said, “We didn’t know there was an Astronomy Club, actually. We come here all the time. I’m Ava,” she said and stuck out her hand expectantly.  It was one of Ava’s many gestures that usually intimated people their age. Dave, however, shook it amiably.

“Dave. I guess you don’t remember me,” he said to Celeste. He laughed, but his smile was uncertain.

“I remember you,” Celeste finally said. “Dave has A.P. Chem with Mr. Brightman,” she explained to Ava. “I met him doing my make up lab last Friday.”

Ava gave an exaggerated nod to show Celeste that she remembered. “So, since when do we have an Astronomy Club?” Ava asked him.

“It’s something new Mr. Landau is starting this year,” Dave said. “He’s the physics teacher. That’s who’s mostly here right now, our physics class. But come on. You should join us.”

He started to walk away. Celeste and Ava looked at each other before following.

His telescope was already set up. Someone was bent over it, adjusting the field of view.

“This is Tyler,” Dave said. “Tyler, this is Celeste and Ava.”

Tyler looked up. Celeste heard Ava inhale sharply.

“I know you.” Ava pointed an accusatory finger at Tyler. “You’re that guy who bumped into me today in the hall after lunch!”

Tyler’s face remained impassive. He was still wearing his black trench coat, only this time Celeste noticed it was worn over a pair of baggy black jeans and a black shirt. Even his fingernails were painted black. “I guess I really didn’t care enough at the time to actually remember it now,” he said without feeling.

There was a moment of awkward silence. “So. Anything in particular you guys want to look at?” Celeste asked. She looked up at the sky, where pinprick white stars were popping out one by one.

“We’re supposed to focus on constellations tonight,” Dave told her. “Here.” He handed her a paperback book that had a picture of the Milky Way on its cover. She flipped through it, and then handed it to Ava, who was holding her hands out eagerly.

“I see one,” Celeste said. She pointed at a patch of sky fringed by the rust-colored leaves of two maple trees. The others followed her gaze. “Cygnus, the swan. It looks like a cross.”

“It says in here that we should be able to see –” Ava started to say, but Dave talked over her.

“If that’s Cygnus, then that must be Lyra next to it,” Dave said. He came to stand by Celeste. “One of the Greek myths says that, after Orpheus was murdered, he was turned into a swan and placed in the sky beside his lyre.”

Celeste felt herself smiling. “Wow. I didn’t think anyone was as interested in this stuff as I am,” she said.

“I love astronomy,” he exclaimed, but she detected a note of embarrassment in the way he said it. “Thinking about what’s out there –that we’re really just a tiny planet floating in one solar system of one galaxy out of countless more –it helps me put life in perspective.”

“Are any of you listening to what I’m saying?” Ava said as though she were talking to a couple of misbehaving children. She closed the book, marking the page with her finger, and crossed her arms.

 “Hey. What’s that?” Tyler said suddenly. He was pointing again at Cygnus. Celeste didn’t see anything right away. She glanced back at him, about to tell him so, but she stopped when she saw his dark eyes widen and fill with awe. Without looking down, he removed a small, silver digital camera from his coat pocket.

“What are you looking at?” Dave asked.

“See? See that light up there? This is amazing,” he gasped. “Do you know how many nights I search the skies, hoping to see one? It’s always when you least expect it.”

Finally, Celeste saw it.

At first, she didn’t understand what she was seeing. There was a distant, perfectly oval-shaped white light traveling smoothly and swiftly across the sky.

“What is it?” she wondered out loud.           

“A shooting star,” Ava said. “Come on –why don’t we do what we came here to do? I found the Cygnus page in this book –”

“That’s not a shooting star,” Tyler insisted. “It’s a U.F.O.”

“A what?”

“An Unidentified Flying Object.”

“I know what ‘U.F.O.’ stands for,” Ava shot back. “I was being skeptical.”

“Just because we say it’s a U.F.O. doesn’t mean it has little green men on it,” Dave said, although Tyler seemed to be convinced otherwise. “It just means that we don’t know what it is. It’s definitely not a shooting star, though.”

They watched it for several minutes. To Celeste, its movement was too purposeful to be a shooting star. She didn’t know why her heart was pounding so loudly in her chest.

“You know, we have one of the highest instances of U.F.O. sightings in the world. Not just the United States, the world,” Tyler emphasized.

“Why would you know something like that?” Ava said.

“Because I read up on and follow paranormal activity. You’re a feature editor for The Voice, aren’t you?” His tone was exasperated as he feverishly snapped picture after picture.

“I knew you were on the staff. You’re the Tyler that writes ‘Dark Corners,’” Celeste realized.

“Yes, I am.” His voice lost its impatience when he addressed Celeste. “And this is going to make a great article. Shit, where’d it go?”

They searched the sky, but the U.F.O. had disappeared. Celeste peered at the faces of the other students, but it didn’t seem like anyone else had seen the extraordinary light.

“All right, everybody,” Mr. Landau called out an hour later. “Time to pack up. Thanks for coming out everyone.”

“We should do this again sometime,” Dave said to Celeste as he disassembled his telescope. “With or without the Astronomy Club. What’s your number?” He fished his cell phone out of his pocket. She hesitated, but then recited it to him.

“Call me so that I have your number,” she told him. A minute later, the chorus of “Strangers in the Night” sounded in her purse. She took out her phone to save his number.

“Frank Sinatra,” Dave commented, cracking a half smile. “Nice.”

“Ready to go?” Ava asked her pointedly. Celeste nodded.

“It was nice seeing you again,” she said. “It was nice meeting you, Tyler.”

“Have a good one,” Dave said as she and Ava headed for the car.

“So, what did you think of our U.F.O.?” Celeste asked once she and Ava were in the car. She made sure to say the last word with as much skepticism as possible.

“I still think it was probably just a meteor or a reflection or something,” Ava said. “Why? What do you think it was?”

Celeste shrugged. “I don’t know. You’re probably right.” But she did wonder whether it was the kind of U.F.O. with little green men on it. For some reason, Tyler’s fun fact had lodged itself in her mind. Why would their small, unsuspecting town of all places have so many U.F.O. sightings?

“Here you go,” Ava said. Celeste jumped. She hadn’t realized that Ava had pulled up to the curb in front of her house. The lights were still on in the living room.

“Thanks for the ride. I’ll see you tomorrow,” she said and opened her door.

“No problem. See you tomorrow.”

Copyright 2012 by S. L. Stacy

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