Page 53 - HEF Pen & Ink 2023
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Sometimes the Stars Make Me Cry
By Elisabeth Shockley
Often when I pull into the driveway and it’s dark, I lean the car seat back, open the skylight cover, and look out into the night. For various reasons there frequently isn’t much to see besides a murky puddle, infinitely deep but never dark enough to be blinding. It is on these nights, during a time for myself that I so highly value, I feel I can just exist. I won’t be judged. The cosmos, ever observant, does not have bias. I say this in comfort, or perhaps out of protec- tion. Sometimes what I think is self-described as articu- late and intense. Other times I have to sit in amazement at my own potential for stupidity.
Nevertheless, there are glimpses of poeticism. Recently I’ve found myself caught in the concept of the dichotomy of love. Its existence is harrowed as complete joy and yet it is a promise of pain. Love is a beautiful horror. Its fires can light up the night sky to the dark side of the moon, beyond the edges of the universe rivaled by only the sun and brightest stars; or it can burn you into the ground, down to the blazing core of the world matching the flames and pain of hell. Often it presents in tandem, simultaneously, or resultant, for there can be no love with- out loss.
The ultimate danger within love is that its muse starts to be seen everywhere. First, it’s the songs that play on car rides, shared headphones, and speakers. Then, it’s places visited together, introduced to one another. Finally, it’s everything they do, everything they say. Who we love begins to define us and create us. My playlists are filled with songs my friends once introduced me to for the first time. My favorite spot for coffee is where I once met for
a date. My go-to jacket for outings is one that a crush said looked good. These things spread until anything with a hint of remembrance becomes a constant memory.
The people we love are all around us: my cousin is in the shows I watch, my best friend in the podcasts I listen to, my past partner in the colors I see.
We never truly stop loving. Once our hearts decide that they care for someone, they can never change that decision. That’s why loss hurts: our love continues to reach out but no longer has somewhere to find solace. The ache can ease, but it doesn’t go away. The pain can be covered, but it can never be hidden. The best aid is more love, a reminder of why we tried in the first place. My heart remembers everyone it has ever loved and every- one who has ever left. In denial it leaves a place for them, refusing to shrink but demanding to grow larger, to love more, and to expect more pain. Everyone I have ever loved remains in my heart. I see them in the stars.
I can see my friends’ deepest desires, their aspirations, how desperate they are for their future. I feel my own wants, who I wish was in the car with me as I simply look and think about the mystery outside of what
I know. Similar to the depersonalization of looking in a mirror for too long, losing a connection to the reflection, staring up can soon turn into staring out. Observing the infinite cosmos and the possibility of every universe, every scenario that could ever occur. It reminds me of how
every person on Earth has their own extensive life, how I will never be able to know all of their stories, or even just one. There is so much I don’t know, so much I will never be able to know. But when I get home, and I lean my car seat back, and open the skylight cover, I can know one absolute.
I will sit in the car,
and I will stare at the Stars, and I will cry.

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