dawn cracks the sky open, bleeding pink and pale red over the horizon. sunlight blasts through every available space, beyond glowing, beyond luminous. light catches on my surroundings, setting everything alight, a harsh glare after the smooth dark of night.

below my feet, concrete sparkles; all around me, glass is striking to the eye, confusing vision until it’s all blurred together in gold and white.

at dusk, the sky deepens, a quick kiss to the passing of time, and stars emerge, scattered on dark velvet. i’m watching them, watching for them as the temperature dips, chilling a pot of tea at my elbow, and losing track of where they are. sometimes, i fancy there’s one or two streaking over the sky – they’re just planes. sometimes, planes feel like a substandard imitation of stars.

the city grit gathers around me, whirling into a dust cloud – stardust, i think, toying with the stem of a goblet i once cemented to the deck in a home renovation project – and gets into my eyes. i can’t see until i blink it away, and my eyes flutter under the onslaught. it could have been there for five seconds or fifteen minutes, i can’t tell either way, and eventually wipe at my eyes.

glitter from my eyeshadow smears off, glimmering faintly on my hands, and in the softened light it all looks considerably more like crushed stars in my fingers. i must be hallucinating, is the last thing i remember thinking of, the sky is covered in stars now. i’d almost call them iridescent; they’re shining and the city lights have dipped, fading out. it’s the oddest thing. normally light pollution gets in the way.

– and then you’re here, and the starlight seems to dim just a few degrees.

next time i look at the sky, the clouds have moved in, and the lights above my head have all come back on. the stars have been drowned out now, their appearance dampened by the thin halo of the streetlamps and blurred out entirely.

when i look back at my hands, smeared with eyeshadow, there’s no optical illusion left, no trick of the light left to let me think i’m holding stardust in the webbing of my fingers. there’s just faint lines of grey, a shade of black underlining it. as i’m staring back up at the sky, i can see the mirrors – maybe that makes me a conduit, i’m wondering, some kind of holder and reflector.

my thoughts make no sense even to myself, and the weather has worsened since you arrived. it’s raining now, and i’m getting water in my eyes as i’m squinting up, trying to see through the sheeting rain.

inside, then, and there’s nothing left to shimmer inside. candles, when i light them, just make the place glow pale gold, but the light’s too weak to really throw any shadows, too soft to define anything. even soft as the lighting is, it’s still harsh enough to throw the room into stark relief: there’s nothing hidden, no patina of secrecy that might be revealed if i only turned on the electric lamps.

i rinse the last piece of grit from my eyes, and let the candles burn out.


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