Millikin’s Creative Corner

Story of Stargazer

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When you were younger, your family owned a farm with acres and acres of unplowed land. Nearly an entire forest laid on the east side, the trees and the small creek an inviting refuge for you and your brothers from the peculiarity of your young lives.

Often, you and your two brothers would cover yourselves in river mud only to let it dry in clumps. You did this at least once each year until, for reasons too sad, you needed to stop.

“First one to the house picks the story!” Chris shouted, making a silly little snorting sound as he laughed.

“Yeah, and the last one is the ugly character!” Andrew shouted in return.

The three of you started back towards the house on the west side of the property.

So the three of you sprung from jog to sprint, legs and arms pumping as you leapt through the prairie grass in the long, flat field to the house.

Moira, your little sister, was crying. This was only the girl’s first summer, but already she was louder than all her brothers.

Your mother stood on the porch, bouncing the crying toddler on her hip.

You were in the lead until a white-and-grey flash darted in front of you. You stumbled, lurching sideways to avoid trampling the thing. Your brothers pushed onwards, bounding up the splintered, weather-worn steps in unison. It was a dead tie, no doubt about it.

Early-bird crows’ feet crease your mother’s smiling eyes. Her name was Stargazer.

Your dog, Barefoot, trotted around you, unaware that it made you fall. He was completely satisfied of itself.

Your mother chuckled and wiped the baby’s mouth.

Moira had a habit of vomiting – often.

“A story?” Stargazer asked. She walked over to Chris and touched his face where he had smeared ground blackberries. “War paint, son?”

“Dad’s books,” Chris said.

“He taught his class yesterday about Tecumseh,” said Andrew.

Moira wailed again. Everyone winced.

Even the dog cringed, but soon returned to attacking your cheek with needy kisses.

“I can tell you about Tecumseh,” Stargazer said, but she pronounced the name “Tm’thnka” as she pushed a lock of her long, dark hair behind her ear. “Someone should watch the baby.”

Your brothers, at once, pointed to you. “Martin!” they suggested.

You smiled silently, and rested your cheek on your knee. Stargazer walked down the steps in moccasin-clad feet. Moira pressed her face into her mother’s chest in despair.

When you stood up, though, Moira fell silent. Her eyes fixed to your hair, which fell down your chest in dried, muddy clumps.

Stargazer watched her daughter’s wide eyes grow as the sun-dried mud crunched between her fingers.

Something about the last detail woke you. Maybe the crunching didn’t sound right. No, the real crunching came from outside, in the snow, as the voice of two strange boys hooped in drunken disregard.

Your eyes flew open to see you were no longer on the farm. Instead you were in the townhouse you shared with Moira.

Now you didn’t hear Moira in the house, but you heard the familiar sound as she retched into the bushes. After that ordeal, she stumbled into the house.

To be continued…

 

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