850 Days Later
The sky was playing a symphony of magical colors that night, notes of muted purples sang their way through harmonies of deep blues while dazzling greens reverberated in between. The cool colors sang soft promises high above the horizon, beckoning the passion of the warm yellows and oranges still clinging to the setting sun to fade away. Clouds danced among the orchestral pigments, reflected in the wide eyes of three friends clinging to each other down below on the hard grounds of reality and spectator.
As the sun dipped further into the obscurity of oblivion, the passionate fire diminished into a feeling of unraveling that was soon to be overtaken by the powerful melancholy of the darkening symphony of night. White shards of scintillating light began falling from the heavens, but never seemed to edge any closer to the three friends. A warm breeze blew through the fields surrounding them, caressed the leaves of the trees standing tall, and filled their bodies with profoundment.
“This is incredible,” a pretty white Kacheek asked, barely speaking louder than a whisper. “The sky seems so impossibly perfect.”
“I wish I could catch one of those falling stars,” began a slender Aisha, “and keep it forever, so I can remember this.”
The third friend, a grey Eyrie, ran his fingers through his hair. Not a peep escaped his beak as he gazed at the brilliant sky. This night would be immortalized in the memory of all three friends, something they would cherish for years to come.
The three lay there, stunned by the sight. They had eagerly awaited this night for over two years now, 850 days to be exact, and those days had been filled with joys, sorrows, disagreements, bubblegum, late night fires, whispered secrets, and everything else in between. All of those things led up to this moment, but in the end the weight they used to carry was nothing more than that of a feather.
As the light of the sun began to fade, the colors that sang so beautifully in the sky began to soften into nothing. Darkness overtook the heavenly expanse, and in its place, the falling stars burned even brighter like beacons of a hope no one knew they needed. The breeze continued to blow this way and that, as if jealous of the attention the sky held and yearned for its own affection. The three friends slowly drifted off into sleep, dreaming of stars falling to the earth amidst a symphony of vivid colors, and wiping everything out.
The slender Aisha lifted a mug of hot chocolate to her lips and took a small sip. She turned the page of the hefty book she was reading, and shifted her gaze to the window beside her. Despite the glow of the numerous candles she had lit around her desk, the stars outside brightly pierced the night time sky. Holding the mug in two hands, she stood up, and walked over to the window. A small smile spread across her lips.
“The night sky is always so pretty,” she murmured to herself. “I can’t even begin to imagine what the Night of Shattered Light will be like.”
Her eyes moved along the wall, scanning the mass of papers that hung upon the wall. Letters, postcards, drawings, poems, whatever could be dreamt of written, was on her wall. She cherished receiving such things from her friends. It had been quite some time since she had actually seen her friends and spoken in person with them. She traced her fingers along the wall, feeling each letter, each paper, trying to absorb their essence and bring sweet memories of her friends to her mind.
She stopped at one particular letter, from her friend Jinui, the sweetest Kacheek she had ever met. The Aisha tucked a strand of her ebony hair behind an ear as she read the letter and smiled softly. The letter contained Jinui’s first proposal to the Aisha to come visit them after so many years. The Kacheek, along with their other friend Seraphin, had begged the Aisha numerous times to come visit them, but the timing was just never right. So the two friends proposed that the Aisha come visit them on a very special night, that wouldn’t be happening until exactly 850 days after the letter was mailed. The Night of Shattered Light. The two friends had researched it endlessly, learning all the details they could to pick the perfect night and location. The Aisha ran her fingers over the greeting. “Dear Eroberi,” it began, in Jinui’s cute, loopy handwriting.
Eroberi held the letter to her chest. She didn’t regret her decision to move so far away. It was not a permanent relocation, and Eroberi was learning so much. The distance from her friends caused her great pain, but there are so many little things in the present to help ease the pain. These letters that her friends Jinui and Seraphin sent her were Eroberi’s favorite little things.
She’d be leaving to visit her friends in just a few days. Her heart swelled with excitement, and she could not help but smile at the thought of seeing them again. Jinui and Seraphin meant so much to her. Eroberi’s heart yearned to see them again. The letters and keepsakes they sent her could only hold her over for so long. Yes, she knew deep down that she could no longer push off visiting them, and they her two friends’ timing in proposing this visit was absolutely perfect.
The slender Aisha sat back down at her desk. The shadows danced across the pages of her book, spinning some sort of tale of unrevealed truths. The Night of Shattered Light was only a few days away. Eroberi closed her book, blew out the candles, and wandered off to her bed, all the while pondering what would be more exciting, a dark sky lit up with sparkling shards of cosmic grandeur, or finally calming the aches in her heart upon seeing her friends’ faces again.
Jinui woke up with a start. Her pale hair covered her face, tickling her eyelashes. Her forehead ached from sleeping so heavily at her kitchen table. She stretched her arms above her head, and rubbed the drowsiness from her eyes.
“Oh, another night spent asleep at my kitchen table instead of my comfy bed. I need to start forcing some time limits on myself.”
She scanned the papers spread across the table, hoping to remember where she left off and what she had learned. It seemed she had not made much progress. A few notes were written on a little note card, and she had highlighted some sections of certain texts, but nothing really stood out to her.
Jinui leaned back in her chair and massaged her temples. She closed her eyes and tried to imagine how her friend Eroberi would look like after all this time. Her hair would definitely be longer, she never liked to cut it. The slender aisha always liked darker colors, which seemed to make her even slimmer. Jinui’s opalescent hair always contrasted Eroberi’s dark locks so sharply, and then there was Seraphin who’s colors always seemed to meet them in the middle somewhere.
Seraphin and her had discussed many different ways to convince Eroberi to come visit them. They both knew she was a very determined individual, and even visiting her best friends would be a weak reason to convince her to take a break from her studies. They knew they would have to find something out of this world to even make her consider leaving, and it was Jinui’s job to figure out what that other worldly reason would be.
And that was the problem. Finding something so extraordinary was not as simple as it sounded, considering Jinui really had nowhere to even start searching. Seraphin had tried helping her brainstorm, but even their minds together found it difficult to come up with an idea. So Jinui had been spending much of her time in the local library, trying to research different events around town. The friends had grown up in this area though, so much of what Jinui came across were celebrations or ceremonies that they already knew about and had been to many times before.
Jinui took a deep breath, and slowly let it out. Her patience was wearing thin, and she was running out of ideas. All the books and newspapers she had brought home from the library seemed to stare back at her disapprovingly. She pushed them all to the side and stood up from her chair.
In the kitchen, Jinui briefly gazed out the window. It was a warm, sunny day. Clouds rolled lazily through the sky, while the trees danced in the breeze. Jinui imagined what she and her friends would do together, if she could ever convince Eroberi to come visit. Did it really matter? All she really cared about was just getting to see Eroberi again, and to spend time with her two best friends.
Back at the library, Jinui sat in a large, comfortable chair, while she drank some tea. She racked her brain, trying to come up with a different idea to research to find something to convince Eroberi to come visit. She felt the whole situation was hopeless. She absentmindedly traced the rim of her mug with her finger, staring pensively at the paintings and different flyers that adorned the walls.
One particular poster caught her attention.
“NIGHT OF SHATTERED LIGHT” was printed in big letters across the top.
This could be what she had been looking for.
Jinui quickly found a big book that contained all she could ever dream about involving the sky and its infinite wonders. It turns out the Night of Shattered Light has no set schedule of appearances. It only occurs when numerous other events happen just so, in just the right way, at just the right time, on just one fateful night. How had she missed this?
It didn’t matter. Jinui had what she needed. There was no way Eroberi could argue against coming to visit them for this. Sure, she could see the same sight where she was now, but Jinui was sure she could conjure up some very convincing reasons that Eroberi possibly couldn’t say no. Now all she had to do was figure out when exactly the Night of Shattered Light was going to happen.
She turned back to the poster. Experts believed the event would be taking place over a couple of nights, but the actual peak of the Night of Shattered Light was hard to pinpoint. However, one thing was for sure - and Jinui lost her breath as she read it - one of the best locations to observe the night at its peak, was right in their very town.
“That settles it,” she whispered under her breath. “Eroberi is coming for the Night of Shattered Light.”
Jinui took the poster off the wall. She’d be taking it back home with her to write her letter to Eroberi and she’d mail it out that very day. The Night of Shattered Light would be happening 850 days later, and Eroberi, Jinui, and Seraphin would finally be reunited to celebrate the night in each other’s welcomed company.
A number of weeks had passed since Eroberi visited Jinui and Seraphin. Together, they all witnessed one of the greatest things they would ever have the privilege of seeing in their lives, the Night of Shattered Light. The night was hard to even put into words for Seraphin. The whole conglomeration of the beautiful light show, seeing his friend Eroberi again, the perfect night and weather, the way the breeze had seemed to swing sweet melodies in harmony with the symphony of colors dancing above them, they all added up to result in the best experience Seraphin could never have imagined.
Seraphin softly groomed the feathers on his wings. After such a glorious night and few days spent reunited with his best friends, he could not help but feel the aching pangs in his heart that was so full of happiness now collapses and contracting. Each striking beat of his heart pumped these mixed emotions further to his extremities. Was it even worth it?
Him and his friends had fallen asleep beneath the bursts of light that were tumbling down from the sky like wayward memories slipping from the chains of guarded secrets. They had planned to stay up all night to watch the growth and denouement of the spectacle, but as everyone knows, plans never happen as expected.
Seraphin had been the first one to wake up. He opened his eyes to a hazy morning, the sun trying to shine through, but it could not compare to the events of last night. He lay on his side, and watched blades of grass shift and bop as the wind wove its fingers through everything. He shifted his gaze to Jinui, and Eroberi. One with features so pale and light, and the other dazzled with darker attributes, and then his complexion somewhere in the middle.
When all three had woken up, none of them spoke. The wonder from the prior night and their thoughts all intertwined and mashed together in their minds. Words didn’t seem to matter or have any significance. The Night of Shattered Light was so surreal and ethereal, how could they grasp reality when the shower of light the night before fractured and splintered any and all expectations they could have ever dreamed of? What did they know anymore?
Their silence in that moment screamed louder than a banshee within Seraphin’s soul. A small smile worked its way across his face. The Night of Shattered Light had revealed something to Seraphin, something, he felt, he had known all along, but had never revealed itself.
“Eroberi, Jinui,” Seraphin began, finally breaking the silence. “I’m so glad I got to witness the Night of Shattered Light. It truly was a humbling experience, like nothing I had ever imagined it would be.”
Eroberi smiled warmly. Jinui hugged her arms around herself. The slender Aisha and pale Kacheek waited for their grey Eyrie friend to continue on.
“But what I’m most thankful for, is that I got to experience it all with you guys.”
Jinui let go of herself to throw her arms around Seraphin. Eroberi took hold of each of their hands.
“I want to say thank you. To you both,” Eroberi started. “It’s been so long since I’ve come to visit you two, and it’s ridiculous how caught up I was with myself. I’d always harden my heart to stop myself from wanting to visit, and I realize now how wrong that was.”
“Oh Eroberi,” Jinui exclaimed, “Don’t worry about it! The whole concept of a journey is to make one big learning experience out of it! Are we at our journey’s end right now? It’s hard to tell, but it sure does seem like it to me. Maybe our journey’s don’t have a destination, and we’ll always just be wandering down different paths.”
Warm smiles spread across all three of their faces. Jinui’s moment of cliched wisdom was cute and striking in their hearts. While her words were stereotypical, they still resonated deep within the three friends. Looking back at the past 850 days leading up to this moment, all three had gone on some sort of journey, each with their own winding paths and obstacles. Were they at journey’s end now? Would the current path continue winding on, or would a new one open up in a different direction?
The next few days, the sky seemed to recuperate from the brilliant display of light it put on the few previous nights. Looming clouds lazily rolled through as if the sky needed support to stay put. The sun shone brightly, but not quite as charismatic as before. The stars at night still twinkled but almost as if they were holding back their shine. Eroberi packed her bags and was off, but not first without a drawn out farewell full of hugs and laughter.
Seraphin played the Night of Shattered Light over and over in his head the next few weeks, the unearthly lights, the fulfilling company of old friends, the solace found within the powerful yet delicate abundance of nature. That special night was a culmination of many forces in the world coming together to deliver a perfect experience for Seraphin and his friends, or so he felt that way. Who was to say that any forces of any sort were acting purposefully, what if perfection just fell into place, like the fragments of stars that drifted down from the sky, with trails of screeching energy connecting them like puppet strings to some original source?
Seraphin had felt so full of wonder that night, full of utter awe and appreciation; gratitude for having the privilege of witnessing the spectacle. Yet he also felt insignificant and like a speck compared to the awesome lights dancing in the sky above him. They were all made up of the same matter and energy, at least he assumed, but what was it about the matter and energy contained in those fractured falling stars above that made him feel so tiny?
Over the following weeks, the one memory that burned the brightest in Seraphin’s consciousness was not the sight of the magnificent sky, but of Jinui’s words, the cliched words she had spoken about life being a journey and a set destination was not inevitable. Such profound words for such a small little Kacheek. Seraphin was not entirely sure of his opinion on the subject, but one thing he did know for sure, the Night of Shattered Light, those 850 days later, Eroberi visiting them, the swell he felt in his heart that night, none were his journey’s end. Like Jinui had said, these were all different paths he had taken on his journey, and Seraphin felt excitement and determination bubble up deep within him for what lay ahead of him, and where his journey would take him.