The Night Of A Thousand Stars
She rejoiced in her warm memories, thinking herself lucky to have fallen in love not once, but three times in her life
Michelle rubbed the velvety petals of the red rose, and a soft sigh escaped her lips. Love was such a wondrous thing. All the love songs, the schmaltzy films, and most especially the books and literature were correct. Having the right person by your side helped you to be a better person. Or maybe, she corrected herself, become a better person. She was sure it had her. After all, what was greater than true love? Thinking back, she realised how lucky she’d been in life to experience the joy of falling in love, not only once, but three times.
The first time she’d been nine years old. His name had been Aden and he and his family had moved in next-door. He’d been nine too, and had two older brothers who were mad keen on football.
Michelle smiled. That seemed to be the case for most boys and men – and some girls and women too. Some things never changed.
However, Aden had been different. He preferred sitting under the apple tree in the garden with a good book rather than kicking a ball about. She could remember being on her garden swing, their eyes meeting as she went high enough to see over the fence.
“Can I have a go?” he’d asked.
“If you tell me what you’re reading,” she’d quipped. She’d always had a swift retort for someone even back then, but with three older sisters, she’d had to learn how to bat and bowl comments in order to survive.
“It’s a fantasy book called Dealingwith Dragons.”
She’d nodded in pleasure. “I’ve read it. I love fantasy books.” Aden had just gone up a notch in her mind. After all, someone who enjoyed a bit of fantasy had to be
He’d put down his book and climbed over the fence, snagging his t-shirt on a thorn bush. Not that he’d seemed worried, or hurt.
They’d taken it in turns to push each other on the swing, Michelle remembering how she’d yelled for him to push her higher as she felt the wind whistling through her hair.
Her mother had wandered into the garden to see what all the noise was, and stood with her hands on her hips, having wiped her hands on a tea-towel. “Do you two want some orange squash and biscuits? I’ve just made a fresh batch of chocolate chips ones.”
It had been just as well that her mum knew Aden as when they’d first moved in, she’d taken round a home-made Victoria sponge cake and introduced herself. Both her mum and Aden’s mum had become firm friends. Michelle had vague memories of both sets of parents enjoying vying for who threw the best dinner party!
Letting the sweet scent of the rose bring back further memories, Michelle recalled how she and Aden had become inseparable after that.
Funny how back in the 1980’s neither they nor their parents had worried about them not having mobile phones like most youngsters of today had. Maybe life had just seemed simpler back then? Certainly, they’d not had the internet or the myriad of TV channels kids of today were used to watching. Back then, you had four TV channels and that was it. If you weren’t home to switch on the box and watch your favourite programme, you had to miss it unless you were lucky enough to have a VCR so that you were able to record it. There was no catch-up TV.
She and Aden had swapped comics back then – Michelle had always preferred the Dandy to the Jackie magazine that her sisters read.
They’d climbed trees, scrumped for apples, or played down by the river in the woods. The water never seemed to get too deep unless it rained heavily. Otherwise, they’d just wade through at ankle height trying to race paper boats as the river flowed among the forest roots, under the canopy of green boughs.
As the years passed, they’d even ridden their bikes to a small rocky cove where the estuary met the sea. OK, it wasn’t crystal clear blue seas like she remembered from going on holiday to the south of England, but it was water. And there, they’d skimmed pebbles across the murky grey with its rich silt, seeing who could throw the farthest. Michelle’s eyes twinkled. Mostly she had – though she’d often wondered if Aden had let her win!
They’d also confided in each other about all sorts of things. Michelle had let rip when one of her sisters was annoying her, and Aden had done the same, moaning about his brothers.
Or they’d revealed their dreams. Michelle had always wanted to be an astronaut, and knew all the constellations. When they were thirteen, they’d put up a tent in her back garden, and had laid back on a rug, with Michelle pointing them out.
It seemed as though they’d always be together, like the thousands of stars glittering like jewels in the velvety dark.
Aden had told her that he wanted to be a pilot and travel the world to see all there was to see.
“Will you come back to me one day after you’ve been travelling?” she’d asked. “Of course,” he’d said.
Then he’d gently kissed her, neither of them having ever kissed anyone before. But Michelle always remembered it as the sweetest of kisses, and one that had
While camping, she’ d sit with Tom’ s arms around her, gazing up at the moonlit sky
seemed to set the world alight. Certainly, she was sure that she’d seen a shooting star cross the heavens.
It hadn’t been long after that that Aden and his family had sadly moved, with his father finding work closer to London.
Both she and Aden had been devastated at losing their best friend and they’d both vowed to stay in touch, but time – and distance – can change things. People grow and develop new friends and interests, and although they had kept in contact by writing letters to each other or making long phone calls on the landline, things moved on, and the contact between them gradually lessened.
The second time Michelle remembered falling in love was when she was sixteen years old. Sweet sixteen, and never been kissed. Except she had. And even though the memory of that sweet kiss with Aden had faded, it was still kept alive in her mind as it had been her first brush with love.
This boy was called Tom. They’d met at school, and he’d been in the same tutor group as her. Weird really, as she’d never really noticed him before, but one day their eyes had met and that had been it. After that they’d spent as much time together as possible.
He had the bluest eyes she’d ever seen – bright blue, like forget-me-knots – and hair as black as ebony. They’d helped each other study for their exams – well that’s what they’d told their parents! Michelle grinned to herself as she remembered how they’d start with such good intentions at understanding the intricacies of algorithms and why an object will not change its motion unless a force acts on it in Physics.
“It’s when two bodies – or people – interact,” Tom would say, drawing her to him and kissing her deeply.
“We have to study!” she’d laughingly say, trying to push him away, but then he’d stroke her arm, and she forgot all about homework.
After their exams they’d gone camping with a group of friends. She’d shared a tent with two girlfriends, while the boys had a separate tent.
That had been the first time she’d been away without her parents and it had been fun. She remembered the summer days being long and hot. They’d sunbathed or explored rock pools. Sometimes they’d play basketball on the beach, and quite often they’d have a barbeque in the evening, where she’d sit with Tom’s arms around her, gazing up at the moonlit sky. The stars were bright and she’d point out the constellations to him. A vague memory stirred at the back of her mind as to a previous occasion, long ago when she’d done the same thing with someone else – and a melancholic feeling had stolen over her, though at the time she’d not realised why.
Tom had wanted to be a science teacher. “You’ll be a good one,” she’d told him. “You’re good at physics.”
“And chemistry,” he’d said, giving her a cheeky grin as he pulled her to him once again.
She’d thought they’d be together for ever, like the stars in the night sky.
However, once school restarted in September, they found themselves in different classes. Tom started seeing someone new, and it hurt. It really hurt. Michelle felt more cautious about forming relationships from then on as her heart felt bruised.
She tried telling herself that it was no different to the Universe stretching out its borders encompassing more space, stars exploding in the evening sky, forming supernovas or black holes. It was just that she felt like she was in one – a black hole that is.
However, by the time she reached the age of twenty-one that all changed. What did they say? Key of the door? Well, certainly she’d found the key to her heart. Only, maybe it had never been lost. Not really. Just misplaced for a few years until the time was right.
She still remembered the day she’d seen him and the way she’d felt. Her heart had almost burst anew in her chest, and her pulse had raced faster than a rocket shooting into orbit.
It had been two weeks before Valentine’s Day. She was now studying at University to be a meteorologist. Though she’d still never given up her dream of becoming an astronaut and hoped one day to join the UK Space Agency. After all, if British Astronaut, Tim Peake could do it, why not her?
She’d been on her way to meet friends when she’d bumped into him that day. Their eyes had met and her heart had done a double flip.
“Michelle?” he had said.
Her breath had caught, recognising him despite the passage of time. His dark blond hair, and hazel eyes that were brimming over with happy recognition.
“Aden?” she asked, although she already knew.
He’d nodded. “What a coincidence, running into you after all these years. Have you time for a coffee?”
“Sure.” She’d quickly dug out her phone and texted her friends that she’d catch up with them later.
They’d spent the rest of the day together, chatting, laughing and catching up on lost years. When Aden had asked to see her again, she’d had no hesitation in saying yes.
The next few days passed in a blur as they spent every minute together. “Why did we lose touch?” Aden asked, running his fingers through her dark curls. “We were young…”
“We still are.”
“I know, but perhaps we’re a bit wiser? Maybe we needed to get some life experience before we met again and rekindled things…” Her voice petered out as Aden’s touch sent another spasm of desire flooding through her body.
That Valentine’s Day was one of the most special days of her life. One ingrained on her mind. One she’d never forget. Not because of any lavish gifts. They couldn’t afford any, for one, being students, but they also didn’t need any.
Aden had made her a card with a big heart on the front that opened out to reveal the words Iloveyou surrounded by little stars.
Without realising, she’d done something similar. Although she’d incorporated countries around the world, and a picture of a Boeing, knowing that he wanted to travel.
They’d both had lectures that day, but afterwards, they’d shared a pizza, and wandered hand in hand to the top of a nearby hill.
The night had been cold, with them both blowing white clouds of mist into the night air. Dragon’s Breath as Michelle called it. But they’d both been wrapped up warm, in thick coats, and scarves.
Aden had a rug and a blanket with him, and they’d snuggled up together, staring up at the night sky, the constellations being brighter away from the lights of civilisation.
“Do you remember what I told you about the night sky when we were young?” Michelle had asked him.
Aden had turned his head, and she could see his eyes burning with ardour. “Yes. Well, some of it.”
She’d told him again, pointing out constellations like the Big Dipper, Orion’s Belt, and of course Sirius, the brightest star. And together they’d gazed up at the velvet sky sprinkled with hope, Michelle feeling as though the heavens were serenading them.
It had felt like the most magical night ever and one that Michelle never forgot.
Now, the clock had ticked forward, and they’d just celebrated their thirtieth wedding anniversary.
They’d married on Valentine’s Day eighteen months after meeting again, and they were the happiest and most romantic years of her life.
She’d never become an astronaut. Well, not in the physical sense. But she’d flown to the stars with Aden. He was the love of her life and she felt blessed to have him by her side.
He’d given her a gold necklace with a perfectly formed pearl in the centre for their anniversary. “To show wisdom and love,” he’d said. “And a pearl also symbolises the moon. I told you that I wanted to go travelling and see all there was to see. And you’ve helped me on my journey. You’ve taken me to the moon and back.”
She’d nearly burst into tears at his romanticism, corny though it was!
As it was, they had gone travelling together – and being able to see the world with someone special meant so much more than seeing it alone ever could.
He’d also bought her a single red rose to represent their love.
Gently caressing the red petals now, Michelle gazed at her husband. “I love you so much.”
He smiled. And that smile said it all. It was the only sign of love she needed.
“One more thing,” he said, passing her an envelope.
Michelle’s brow puckered as she gazed at it. “But you’ve already given me a gift,” she said as she fingered her necklace. “This is something extra.”
As Michelle pulled out the map of the heavens, along with a certificate from the star registry, her eyes shone.
“My own star,” she breathed.
“Yes. You might not have made it into the night sky as an astronaut, so I brought a bit down to you. Shall we go outside and see if we can see it?”
“It’s a bit cold.”
“Don’t worry about that. Provision has been made.” Aden gave her one of his sweet smiles.
Taking her hand, he led her outside to the fire pit that was situated next to her telescope. On the table beside it, were two glasses, a bottle of champagne, and on the ground lay a thick blanket.
Lying back, they stared up at the night sky, and it was as if they were nine-yearsold again. OK, the ground was a little harder, but the love between her and Aden had remained unchanged.
She now had everything she could possibly need. The true love of her life, and her own personal star.
Valentine’s Day didn’t have to cost a fortune. The most important thing was to show that special person in your life how much they meant to you. It was the little things that counted. And along with passion, love, and understanding, you had to remember to have kindness, and to listen as much as you spoke.
“Happy Valentine’s Day,” said Aden, pulling her to him as once again a shooting star seemed to explode in the velvety night sky.
Together they’d gazed up at the velvet sky sprinkled with hope–it was a magical night
BY CARRIE HEWLETT