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The Last Star

"I wonder where the stars end"

"What do you mean?"

"Scientifically, they are all in the past. But where do they end? Where is the last star?"

"At the Big Bang?"

"No. That is the beginning of the stars. I want to know where that last star is. There is always an end; everything ends. There must be that last star"

"I understand. You don’t have to repeat yourself. Remember it isn’t important which star is at the end. It only matters what you see until that end"

"I’m repeating myself because I want to. I don’t speak to please you"

"Ok. I’m sorry"

"Forget it. But I still wonder where that last star is"

"Wonder all you want for you will never know"

"Oh, I will know. And when I know, you will know too. Trust me"

"Say what you will"

"I will"

 

A silence descended over the figures. Their conversation had reached its zenith and was now making its way down to a level at which they could talk again. This always happened when they looked at the sky at night. They always ended up talking about something and then would stop. The stars and the moon brought a level of silent emotion to their conversations. And that emotion grew until they had to stop.

George looked at Sonya. She wanted to find the last star and all he wanted to do was eat. He was hungry. But he couldn’t tell her otherwise she’d kill him and he wouldn’t get to eat her mom’s food again. He was waiting for her mom to call them in for dinner. This was just cruel and unusual punishment for such a lover of food.

Sonya was just staring at the stars. She thought a lot. Not about food, but about life and all that it contained. And the stars were a part of her life. They came every night. At least one would come through even on the cloudiest night. And she would wait. It was a meeting that would have to happen before she could declare the end of another day in her life. She wasn’t hungry, but knew that George was. She knew he was too scared to tell her that and that is why she kept him out there.

"I wonder what time it is" George spluttered.

"It’s early. Too early still" Sonya replied.

"Too early for what? Did I say anything? Do you have to go? Is something wrong?" George broke out into a sweat.

"Nothing. Forget it"

"Okay (Phew!)"

Sonya smiled to herself and just thought while the silence would force them to speak again. George, in the meantime, was trying to look at his watch without Sonya noticing. It wasn’t easy. He tried, but was so scared that he gave up. He couldn’t risk not getting to eat at her place anymore. It was definitely better than eating Microwave dinners at home.

George came over every night because his mom used to work till late at night and wasn’t at home to cook, except on the weekends. And if his dad tried cooking, firemen usually came over afterwards. So he would retreat to have some good food under the pretence of being friends with Sonya. It wasn’t as if he wasn’t friends with Sonya, but being friends with her was a good thing.

George and Sonya had known each other for a long time. They had been friends since they were 5 years old. Now they were in high school and life went on. They remained good friends and George got his food. He was obsessed with food, but no one minded. That was George. He wouldn’t change and if he did, he wouldn’t be as great to know.

Sonya liked being with George. It was fun to keep him out waiting anxiously for dinner. She got to talk to somebody. It was a part of her day. She needed to let loose and George was just the person she was able let loose with. When she was with her boyfriend, she thought differently and it was all too complicated. But with George, she could talk about anything.

 

After a while, George felt that he would burst if he didn’t eat. He was struggling to keep his hunger at bay. This happened every single night. It was a part of their schedule. Sonya was smart enough to learn that after all the time that they had spent together. If she didn’t she couldn’t call herself a friend. It was time for the conversation to start again. And George would start it like he always did.

"So … how’s Matthew?" George continued with tradition.

Sonya smiled to herself "He’s okay. He’s been spending a lot of time upgrading his bike"

"Good"

"Good?"

"What do you want me to say? Bad?"

"Yeah I do. He can’t spend time with me because of a stupid bike"

"So? It’s a guy thing. You wouldn’t understand. A boy and his bike are one"

"So why do guys bother marrying girls?"

"Probably because of lapses in concentrations. That’s a plausible reason for the high divorce rate in our country"

"Yeah right. And King Kong flies at the speed of sound!"

"I thought King Kong was a monkey"

"Forget it. You won’t understand. I was being sarcastic"

"Oh! Okay! Now it makes sense"

"That’s surprising"

George just smiled a wry smile at Sonya and she smiled a wry smile back.

"Sonya! George! Dinner’s ready!" Sonya’s mom shouted from the kitchen window.

George jumped up and started running across the backyard when he realised that he was the only one running. He turned back and saw Sonya still staring at the sky. He went back to her and sat next to her again.

"Why did you come back?" Sonya asked him as he sat down again.

"Not feeling so hungry"

"Yeah. That’s why you ran once my mom called"

"I don’t want her to wait"

Sonya smiled "Alright. I believe you"

"Trust me, I’m telling you the truth"

"Okay, I believe you"

"No you don’t! You think I’m a low-down starving idiot"

"I do?"

"Yes!"

"Okay then"

"Good. Wait a second. You’ve done it again, haven’t you?"

"Yup"

"Oh, god! Won’t I ever learn?"

"Not while you’re a low-down starving idiot. Come on. I’ll race you"

Sonya got up and ran. George got up and tried to run after her. She reached first and waited for the panting George to reach.

George panted and spoke "I’m … going to get … you. When I get my … breath"

"I know you will. Shall we eat?"

George and Sonya walked inside and dined. It wasn’t a moment too soon for George. But he survived, like he did every time. They continued to chat through dinner, but not about stars or anything of the sort. All Sonya did was irritate George. And he got irritated and she laughed. She had fun and he had his dinner.

And another night passed by in their lives. The stars played their parts and watched. They were a part of the lives of Sonya and George. That was the sweet reality that lied behind all the science and the facts. The stars were a part of the lives of hundreds and millions of people all over the world. And they made life look vast and clear.

 

The next day, George met Sonya on the walk to school. It was another part of their daily schedule. A lot of their lives were spent with each other and they knew it. And they liked it. So they continued with it. Their school was only 5 blocks away and they just used the morning walk to talk about what the expected of the day or to talk about something that they forgot to talk about the previous night. It was an arrangement that fit perfectly into their lives.

"So how were the beans for breakfast?" Sonya asked.

"How do you know I ate beans?"

"Because it’s all over your mouth as usual"

George wiped his mouth and shook his head "I hate this. I enjoy food and I’m punished for it"

"Who said you are punished for it?"

"I dunno. So what’s up today?"

"Umm, not much. I’ve got a history quiz and nothing else really exciting"

"The history quiz should be fun"

"Yeah, a real riot"

"So will I see you after school today?"

"I don’t think so. Matthew said that his bike was ready. So I’ll probably hitch a ride with him"

"Okay. Then I’ll see you at night, I hope"

"You sure will and then we can even eat dinner"

"Really? Cool"

"Yeah. Just like every night"

"Oh well. If it happens every night, it can’t be all that bad"

"Yes, George"

"Why do I always think you are being sarcastic?"

"Maybe you just think a lot"

"Hmm… That’s a point" George said and then sank into thought.

Sonya smiled. They had almost reached school and then that would be the start of another day of learning and socialising and gossiping. For George, it would be another day of waiting for lunch to see what would be in the cafeteria. She was looking forward to meeting Matthew at the end of the day. She hadn’t seen him for two days now and she didn’t like it too much. She almost felt jealous of the bike if that was humanly possible. But she would be with him and that wouldn’t matter anymore.

George and Sonya reached the school building and parted their ways to meet their own school groups. George joined the Math club and Sonya went to her gossiping society. They had entered their alternate school lives and that was it. For the next few hours, they would be relatively different people and then they would return to normal at the end of the day. It was an eternal cycle like life itself.

 

And time flowed on. The day rolled on like a boulder with nothing to stop it. Sonya had a good quiz. George had a nice lunch. The things that had mattered to them had turned out all right. In each of their books, it had been a good day and there really wasn’t much to complain about.

When school ended, the building emptied like an upturned glass filled with water. On the way out, George saw Sonya waiting for Matthew, waved hello and walked on. Sonya waved hello to George and waited for Matthew. She hadn’t seen him at school and was wondering what was wrong. After five minutes, Matthew turned up on his tuned-up motorbike. It just looked like another machine to Sonya but she didn’t care anymore. Matthew was there and life was good again. She hopped on the bike and hugged Matthew and kissed him on the cheek.

"So do you want to go for a test ride?" Matthew asked.

"Not really. Just take me home"

"You won’t get to see what this baby can do"

"I don’t care what this "baby" can do. I want to get home and study"

"Okay. But it’s your loss"

"I’ll live"

 

And so Matthew took the girl of his life right then on his mechanical chariot of nuts and bolts and two wheels to her home. He wanted to show her the speed and power of the bike, but he had learned not to push her into anything. She was just quiet through the journey. She didn’t say a word. He wanted her to speak, but didn’t want to force her into anything. So he thought of a way to attract her attention.

"Look, Sonya! No hands!"

"Huh? What the…? Oh, No, Matthew!" Sonya screamed.

Matthew looked back in front of him and saw that he was heading straight for George, who was crossing the road. Matthew tried to quickly regain control but the bike went straight at George. George saw the bike too late to do anything and got knocked down by the heavy machine. Matthew shut down the engine and Sonya jumped off to check George. He was unconscious.

Sonya stayed with George, while Matthew went to call an ambulance and then George’s parents. The ambulance came and George was rushed to hospital. Sonya accompanied him and stayed at the hospital till George’s parents arrived. They immediately rushed to see George but he was still unconscious. Sonya left George’s parents crying. Suddenly the day wasn’t so good anymore.

 

From that day, Sonya never saw Matthew again. She heard his license was revoked permanently and he had some kind of punishment. George remained unconscious for a long time. And Sonya worried and thought about George all the time. Both George’s and her parents tried to convince her that it wasn’t her fault, but she wouldn’t listen. She felt guilty.

One night, two weeks after the accident, Sonya was watching the sky alone. It wasn’t fun anymore. George brought some life even into the silence and she missed that. Her mom came out and sat next to her. She told her that George had died and when he was conscious he asked to tell Sonya "The end doesn’t matter. What matters is what happened till the end"