When the Stars Appear
D. Paul Angel
He sat in the camping chair looking up past the trees at the end of his neighborhood. He raised his wineglass to the darkening sky, lifting his index finger to point, “That’s Venus I think. It’s always the first this time of year. But you can just see another dot almost straight above it.”
He smiled, enjoying the Summer warmth that had lingered into early Fall. “There’s one,” he said, pointing again, “They just seem to appear. Poking through the dark after traveling for thousands and thousands and thousands of years.
“I think this is the best time to see the stars. I don’t know why, maybe because everything else is still just a little lit, but this is when you can almost feel their distance, ya know?”
He sipped a little more Rosé, watching the stars appear one by one as the sky darkened, each one making him smile anew. He watched a jet silently fly over, waiting until it was lost to the far horizon before talking again, “It’s so high up we wouldn’t even know it was there if it wasn’t just dark enough to see its lights.”
He distractedly swirled the wine around his glass as he became more pensive, “Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t see a plane like that and not think of all the lives on board, ya know? Half leaving home and half coming. Some lost in their own thoughts. Some reading, some asleep, and some…” he grinned as he looked up, trying to find another jet. “Some are making friends with the passenger next them- just like we did, all those years ago, remem-” he stopped mid-word, choking up as he turned to see the empty chair next to him; a summer’s worth of leaves and pine needles still piled on its seat.