I have this shred of a scrap of a memory of when I was five years old, and I found a star in the woods. A star, that’s what I’ll always remember it as, because it was shining gold and evenly five-pointed. It had one of its little pointed star-legs caught in a branch, and I untangled it, for it to fall, fall, and then float a foot over a puddle.
‘T…H A N K Y O…U.’, and then it disappeared into a splash of light that covered my raincoat. And I went back to have a picnic with my mum.
It don’t remember it appearing again until my seventh birthday party – a cake and jelly in the garden affair. I noticed it when the blindfold came off after I managed to pin the tail on the donkey’s face – it hovered a foot over my roof, eye-squintingly hard to see in June’s midday glare. In that, it was probably invisible to people who didn’t know what to look out for. But I saw it, and I waved. It just floated there.
That night, after my friends had all taken their goodie-bags and gone home, it glared gold through the papery curtains and brought my room into daytime.
“Oh, hello!” I said. “I saw you earlier. I waved.”
“Thank you for… helping me, a WH-I-L-E a-go.” It replied.
“You’ve gotten better at talking. What are you doing here?”
“Thhhe g-REAT One isss a-wa-y. I can GLOW free-ly.”
“The Great One?” I asked, and thought for a moment. “The Sun?”
It bounced slightly, by millimetres, to emulate a nod. “Y-es.” Silence. The crickets chirped out of the bushes at the bottom of the garden. “III de-si-re your hhELP agai-n.”
“Okay, what do you need?” My knees were wobbly at this point, as the birthday excitement began to wane and exhaustion rose to replace it.
It floated higher in the air and moved a little further back to be against the night sky, hovering over the point of the horizon where the sun had set. “III nEEd t-o kill the GREAT one. Ssso th-at I can be-come THE new Ssssun.”
“Why do you want to do that?” I tried to gesture at where the Sun would be, only to remember that it was still night, and the star hung in its place.
“Be…be-cause, it IS verrry ollld. It will d-d-die very ssssoon. You w-w-will DIE, w-i-t-h it.”
“That’s awful!” I cried. “How soon?”
“A-bout aaa miiili-on yearsss, or a FEW.”
That’d be long after I had grown up, grown old, and growing flowers – but, like my mum had taught me, I shouldn’t just think about myself.
“Okay, how can I help?”
And with that, he exploded into a glowing puddle again, painting my windowsill with floursescence and letting the sky dim back down to the dull glow of the moon.
It didn’t come back again until I was sixteen–seventeen. In that time, I had crawled through the dark side of puberty and come out scratched and hairy. The memories of the star had almost become the residue of childhood fantasies.
It came in the night again, the first night I’d ever gotten drunk. Everyone else at the party had gone unconscious on paint stripping vodka, while the star hung there in the middle of the room, swallowing all the colours of the rotating disco ball. A mid-2000s dance track still played in another room.
“I have returned.” It told me.
“Oh, it’ssh you.” I slurred. “You’ve gotten… better, at talking.”
“I have returned for your help.”
I squinted. “D-didn’t you tell me th-that before? Before you disshappeared?”
“And so you helped me. But I need you one last time, to finally to climb into the sky.”
I squinted harder, and my brain rattled what-after-what. “Okay then, what can I do to help?”
It hung, drawing in more light, whispered a “Thank You” into my head, and exploded into what looked like an accident at a glo-stick factory. The residue splattered onto the cheeks of a sleeping lad and smeared the marker pen cock that was drawn on his face. I rolled into a sick-drenched armchair, confused as to what I was doing to help the star all these years, and watched my watch tick away into the morning. It was only coming up to four, but red beams of sunlight penetrated the curtains and revealed the wreckage of the night’s antics.
Aliens are weird.