It had become an obsession. It started out innocent enough, just using her magic to call down the stars to her, just to see if she could do it. As the star started to come down out of the sky, she was able to shape it, make it smaller, so that by the time it reached her, the little star landed perfectly in her outstretched hand. It was warm, but not as vibrantly scorching as Liv had expected, and she enjoyed the way that it glowed. Liv sat on the old wooden swing outside an abandoned school, alone in the inky dark of the night, her bare feet sifting through the sand, the small pebbles dirtying the bottom of her soft rose ball gown, and cradled the star ever so gently in her pale hands.
“Oh, you are lovely,” Liv told the star in her lilting voice. “I think you’d be happier here, you and I could keep each other company. I’m quite lonely, you see, all of my friends have gone off and disappeared. I’d really like it if you’d stay.” Getting no response from the little glowing rock in her hand, Liv giggled lightly and held the star aloft so that it would light her way home.
The collection of stars grew from there. Liv kept them beneath her bed, in a box made of polished silver, with blue velvet inside to cradle the stars gently and keep them safe. The second one came only a few weeks after she brought the first home, when Liv noticed that the glow of the first star started to dim. Even though she spoke to it as often as she could, telling it all of her secrets and wishes and a different fairy tale every night, the little star seemed to lose its light. It was almost as if it was as lonely as Liv herself. It needed a friend. It was then that Liv decided to go out and bring another star home, and when that one started to dim, she brought home another.
The box was almost full of the dimly glowing stars. Liv was sitting on her bed, her legs crossed with the little box sitting in her lap over the skirts of her ball gown. She opened the lid and stared inside at them, a soft sigh slipping out of her lips. There wasn’t room for any more stars, and even though she was constantly talking to them, singing to them, it didn’t seem to bring their brightness back. The first star that she had brought home had completely gone out but for the tiniest area of dull light that could hardly be seen.
“What’s wrong?” Liv asked it, concern filling her usually carefree voice. The little star hardly blinked at her as she held it gently cupped in her hands. “I’ve brought you friends, and I do my absolute best to make you happy. You stars are my only friends, I wish you wouldn’t lose your sparkle like this. What can I do, to make you happy?” She waited in silence, as if expecting some sort of answer, but when she didn’t receive any sort of answer, she put the star back into its spot on the soft blue velvet, and slammed the box shut. Something had to be done to bring the twinkle back to them.
Liv sat back on the old wooden swing, dragging her bare toes through the soft sand, her pink painted toenails chipped from the motions. The night sky was foggy, the moonbeams on the fog causing a sort of murky green sky instead of a clear evening. Still, there were a few stars visible in the swamp that engulfed the night, and Liv focused on one of them, using magic that was now familiar to her to pull it down, resizing it as it slowly came down. “Maybe you’ll be the one,” she whispered, hope in her voice. “Maybe you can make the light come back to my other friends. You’ll help, won’t you?”
“So you’re the one stealing stars,” came a rough, deep voice from behind her, and Liv gasped, taking her concentration from the star. The star fell to the ground, unnoticed by its sorceress. “I’ve been wondering where they’ve been going.”
Liv stood from the swing, backing away from him. “How did you notice? There haven’t been that many gone.”
“Seventeen,” he told her, sliding his hands into his pockets. He didn’t approach her, instead giving her time to take him in, not intending to appear a threat. “Eighteen, if you count this one, tonight.” He took up space in a way that Liv could only describe as ‘hulking’, and though he didn’t appear intimidating at this moment, she knew that if she ended up on the wrong side of him, that side of him could come out. It was something that she wasn’t eager to find out on her own. In the darkness she could see his brunette hair curl over his forehead and eyes, but he kept his face in the shadows and she couldn’t tell much more about him. “What are you doing with the stars?”
“They’re my friends,” she told him, trying to gather her courage. He took a step towards her, and she let out a breath, standing her ground in the damp grass.
“So you’ve brought the stars out of the sky to what, lay around your house like trinkets to look at when you’re bored?” He scoffed, shaking his head.
Liv puffed out her chest, feeling slightly offended that he thought she would treat her friends so carelessly. “They live in a very special box beneath my bed. They’re my friends, I talk to them constantly.”
The man was looking off into the distance, towards where the star fell. Liv didn’t take her eyes off of him—what was he going to do with this information, now that she had spilled it all? He let out a little grunt, and shrugged. “Shouldn’t you be talking to your friends, instead of a bunch of space rocks?”
There was silence between them, as thick as the fog that loomed around them. He was expecting an answer, and Liv knew how pathetic the truth sounded. “Maybe I prefer the company of celestial stones instead of awful people.”
“No friends, huh?” He chuckled. It was surprising, his laugh was almost…nice. It almost angered Liv that she liked his laugh, and she puffed out her chest slightly, trying to not let this man intimidate her. He stepped forward again, a stray moonbeam making his chocolate brown eyes sparkle a little, and she could tell that he had a good-natured smile. “I’m in the same boat,” he murmured, stopping a few feet in front of her. In a swift movement he raised his arm and the fallen star that Liv had lost flew towards into his hand.
It was bigger than the rest of her stars, since she hadn’t had time to resize it properly, and it’s glow was brighter than the rest in her box. It was fresh, it hadn’t been dimmed by staying in the box for so long. The man held the star out to her, his eyes on hers while her eyes were on the glowing orb in front of her. “Put it back,” he urged gently. “The stars belong in the sky, not in a box under your bed. Even if they are your friends.”
Liv took the warm star, still staring down at it in her hands. It burned so vibrantly up at her, so unlike her companions at home. The stars she cherished so much were burning out, they wouldn’t be back to normal until they were returned to their home in the sky, if they ever got brighter at all. She wrapped her arms around the bigger star, a tear slipping down her cheek as her mind worked to process that she would once again be losing her friends. A sigh escaped her lips, and she used her hands to guide the star back to its home.
“You know, if you put them all back, they’ll still be there, twinkling in the sky for you to talk to. You aren’t losing your friends, you’re just letting them go back to their home. I’m sure they’ve been happy with you, but they’ll be more at ease, they’ll shine brighter against the backdrop of the sky. They’ll always be there for you.”
It took Liv until the next night to decide it part wth her precious friends. She held the box in her lap on the wooden swing, and said goodbye to each one before lifting it into the air and returning it to its normal size. When she was down to the last star in the box, the first one that she had ever brought home, she sighed, trying to hold back tears. It felt like a loss again, another blow to her precious heart.
“I won’t ever forget you, my friend,” she whispered to it, and she thought she saw a little spark of light returning to it. With a long breath, Liv used her magic to send it back home. Feeling exhausted and mournful, she laid herself out on the green grass, her curls spreading out and mixing with the strands of new growth, and watched the twinkle of stars above them. Alone again.
Until a large body dropped down on the lawn next to her. She didn’t have to question who it was, he was chuckling in his deep voice as soon as he was laying there. “They’re sparkling again,” he murmured, sounding as happy as he probably could. “You did good, kid.”
Liv rolled her eyes, but gave a little smile. At least she wasn’t the only friendless one.