I pulled my jacket tighter as we walked down the side of the road. The stars shined awfully bright for a lonely February night. Although neither of us spoke, the silence told me she had something to say. I stared into the night sky, examining the constellations.
“I found Orion’s belt,” I said, breaking the silence, “it’s the only one I could ever really find.” I forced a laugh and noticed the tiny smile she forced as well. I couldn’t help but wonder who was talking. I know I’d spoken but it didn’t sound like me. My voice was different, foreign. Every time I spoke, my mouth moved but my mind couldn’t quite connect with what I was hearing. Who I was hearing.
“I think I found the Big Dipper.” She said, softly. The air seemed to tighten around her words, exposing the heavy shadow cast by the real thoughts on her mind as they crept back inward.
I gazed up at the twinkling stars, appreciating that I even could. She started to walk further down the path. The crunching of her boots on the snow devoured the void of silence, which pierced the air. I followed behind her into the darkness. We were walking away from the stars with only a blank night sky approaching. I stopped for a moment and glanced back at the stars we were abandoning in our wake.
“So how are you..?” She didn’t look at me when she shattered the silence. She just continued to walk on the pavement under the moonless blanket of stars. I could see my breath in front of me. Although the world around me looked cold, I couldn’t feel it. Maybe I was just numb.
“I’m good,” I laughed, “how are you?”
She smiled, “I don’t believe you.”
I looked at her, but she wasn’t looking at me. She was looking at her feet, “Well I am.” I answered. “Now how are you?”
“I’m good.” Her voice didn’t sound like hers. We didn’t sound like ourselves and I couldn’t figure out why. I felt like we were playing a game. A game I didn’t want to play.
“I don’t believe you,” I responded.
She shrugged and let out a small laugh. Sometimes when our conversations turn more serious, she becomes a new person. Smaller, almost. She speaks softer and smiles when things are sad. I know she doesn’t smile because they’re sad—she smiles because it’s easier.
“You don’t have a reason to,” she replied, “because I am fine.” She didn’t sound annoyed or sad or anything, really. She sounded matter-of-fact. She sounded genuine. But I could feel the unrest in the back of my mind, aching for the reason behind why she even brought any of this up. I’m not one to be so easily fooled by smiles and silence.
I didn’t respond. I was walking slower than her, dragging behind with the stars. I began to think about how stars never fail to surprise me. Every starry night tops most all beautiful things that man is privileged to indulge in. There is so much mystery in these little specks of light way out in space – they know so much about the universe and as we look up at them, they stare down in awe of our ignorance. And for this, I am amazed with every glowing star that lives in the night sky; they are a beautiful enigma.
As we continued to walk down the street, our silence only grew. But my mind wouldn’t settle; not only did I wonder about the stars, but I wondered about all the unknowns that I didn’t have access too. Unknowns including how this night would end, where her and I would end up, most reoccurring—what was on her mind. Every thought I had and every piece of an idea that my mind grasped on to irrevocably lead to the realization that the only mind that I can hear belongs to me. And the only mind she can hear belongs to her. Which means that here we are, under the same night sky, amongst the same cold air, existing as two separate entities both equally only half aware of what’s really going on.
But then I stopped because I sometimes think too much and I zone out when I shouldn’t.