“Time for bed!”
The voice of the Mother startled the young girl who had been entranced by the stars in the clear night sky. Normally, she would have heard her Mother’s footsteps on the staircase, the fourth step creaked and that would be her cue to get into bed. She’d have precisely fifteen seconds from that ominous creak to get under the covers and feign sleep. But not tonight, she had been distracted by the beautiful dark sky.
She gazed wistfully out at the stars that shone a bright path to the candescent moon. It seemed larger than normal and it’s immense prominence in the sky had an hypnotic effect upon the girl.
“Come on monkey…Bed…Now!”
The girl reluctantly got down from her perch near the window and climbed into bed. Her gaze drifted once more to the illuminated sky and she hatched an impromptu plan for her to stare a little longer at its brilliance.
“Can you tell me a story?” She asked, ensuring she adopted her best doe-eyed look.
The Mother tired and hoping she could just return to the wine that waited for her downstairs replied “It’s getting rather late!”
Such a feeble excuse would not stop the demands of the child
“Aren’t you a little old to have Mummy read you a story?” said the Mother, the futility of the question evident in the tone of her voice.
The child shook her head with youthful enthusiasm. Sighing the Mother reluctantly stood up and went to a small wooden bookcase adorned with bright stickers and graffitied in crayon.
“No Mummy! I want you to tell me a story. Like you used to do” said the child.
The Mother sighed again, her hopes that she could get away with reading a few pages of ‘Daring Duck Goes On Holiday’ had faded.
“What would you like me to tell you a story about?”
“The Stars!!” replied the child enthusiastically.
The Mother smiled “Very well then let me tell you a story that my Father….Your Grandfather used to tell me about the stars. Lay down.”
The child happily obliged, pulling the covers up to her chin and rolling over so she could stare out of the window at the dazzling sky whilst her Mother told her a story about the stars.
A long time ago before there was even anything you know exists, there was nothing but the infinite density of space. A vast black canvas that stretched beyond anything you can comprehend.
Over time within this intense darkness tiny white lights appeared, in the expanse of space they seemed like nothing more than pin pricks. You know them as stars and people will tell you that all they are just balls of hydrogen and helium waiting to explode and light up the darkness around them. But they are not..well not back when it all began.
For these celestial bodies that appeared were for all intents and purposes as human as you and I. They could feel, communicate….dream. In their infancy they would move around space with the same enthusiasm as a toddler would in a park. They played, chasing each other in this infinite playground, gleefully laughing; all the stars together swirling with playful abandon. But as the millennia passed they grew bored of this pursuit. One can only tolerate so many years before the monotony of simply running through the endless vacuum of space would become tiresome. It is surprising that they lasted as long as they did.
The stars therefore no longer ran and played but instead stood and talked. To relieve the crushing boredom they now felt they told stories just like the story I am telling you now. They would create characters and scenes and together they would live out the most fantastic of adventures.
Now I know what you are thinking – how can these stars tell stories? How could they know anything when all they had experienced was just the dark nothingness of space? Well, these were not just stars and were not restricted by what they had experienced or what they had been told. The canvas of their minds was as infinite as the vastness of the space that they occupied.
Have you ever wondered why you have two arms, two legs and a head? Or why a whale looks the way it does? These are not moments of evolution but by design – the design of the stars.
However, they began to grow weary of these stories and the companionship of sharing these adventures faded.. They then began to do the most human of things – argue. In the early days of this story sharing they would rejoice in the collectiveness of their creation but as the stories grew in grandeur and became more elaborate voices of discontent could be heard.
Initially the arguments were rather miniscule in nature just some odd disagreement over names or places or a description of something in particular. Take the elephant for example; well it got its large trunk as a result of particularly mischievous star who objected to the way a story was being told. One day I will tell you what really led to the Alpaca being created.
You may think it ridiculous that such pettiness could occur over the way a simple story was being told but there really was not much else for them to do. They had told stories for so long that this is all they did, all they knew and it was important to them.
Slowly the resentment grew and these disagreements became larger and more intense until no longer could the stars remain together and they split into two groups. Imagine space as a giant blackboard, at one end you had a group of stars who all believed that a story should be told one way and at the other end another group who wished the story to be told differently.
And there in the middle was a single star shining bright. He never participated in the story telling but instead just glowed bright in a beautifully translucent meditative state. He was not creating places or things but just imagining himself running freely around the entirety of space. He liked when they all used to do that and hoped one day they would all return to such gleeful pursuits. The vastness of space was too scary for one little star to do it alone and so he just waited for his friends to once again join him.
For a while the stars cohabited with very little issue, they enjoyed sharing their stories with other like-minded stars and were pleased there were no more disagreements and that their creative adventures could continue unabated. But soon the groups became suspicious of each other and wondered what each other were up to. One group would often get disturbed by the other with loud laughter or cheering.
Curious, the other group would confront them and ask “What are you up to?” Of course they did not speak in a human voice what with them being celestial beings and all. However, I can only communicate this part of the tale by expressing it as a human would.
So the other group would reply “Nothing we were just telling a story”. The other group interested to know what had caused such mirth and merriment would ask what the story was about and so the group would tell them.
“That’s rubbish” they would say “It’s not even funny.” Or words to that effect.
This continued with each group seemingly more interested with what the other were doing than themselves. Like a virus the willingness to sabotage a story rather than assist spread through the groups. There would be shouts of ‘Rubbish’ or ‘That didn’t happen’ and ‘We tell it better’ and before long neither group could finish a story due to all the interruptions.
This then led to a different emotion being experienced by the stars – Rage. They became angry and what started off as name calling soon escalated. Whilst shouting insults at each other the star in the middle was blissfully running through the miles of space in his mind unaware the changes that were occurring in his friends.
Then one day the insults escalated and two stars one from either group ran at each other. I say ran only so you can picture it in your mind, stars of course do not run. They headed towards each other at some velocity neither one willing to change course. They collided with some force and with a…poof…they were gone.
The others in the groups watched in initial disbelief at the destruction of two of their fellow stars. Then the accusations began as to who or what had caused that to happen – each blaming each other with some venom. With rage running through them they all charged at each other whilst the star in the middle hovered unaware above them.
They could have stopped, they all could have realised , having witnessed what they had, the folly of this pursuit but the rage consumed them and destruction was all that they cared about. Having spent millennia together they could no longer bear to spend one more moment and this huge cluster of stars collided with each other…BANG!
It was the biggest bang that you could ever imagine and out of this chaos and destruction all their dreams, ideas, stories flowed; leaking out into the blackness of space. When the dust had settled the previous endless void of space was filled with planets, the sun, the moon and of course earth.
Hovering in the sky above earth were three stars – one from either group and of course the star in the middle who had remained passive to the destruction that had occurred below.
Before they noticed anything they were struck by a feeling of loneliness. Space was no longer filled with these celestial wonders and the two stars felt a feeling of remorse.. The two stars did not blame each other but instead called a truce to the fighting that had seen so many of their fellow brethren fall. In honour of the fallen they flew through space which now hosted so many wondrous creations and every now and then would stop and leave a little ball of light amidst the darkness. The middle star had followed, happy to once again be flying through the infinite sky.. Before long space was once again alit with stars but these were not (and still aren’t) real stars. Only three real stars remain and they shone the brightest of all.
Once they completed their memorial journey they returned to hover over earth as they found this to be the most beautiful of all their creations. They admired how much better it looked compared to the image conjured by their storytelling. The two stars were excited to be able retell their stories and create new ones using this wonderful plaything that had appeared, just as a child would create wondrous battles with his toy knight and horse.
The middle star did not want to join in and still very much childlike he just wanted to fly through space again. But the other two stars would not join him as they were too busy creating more stories on this planet, weaving tapestries of glorious tales, each event perfectly planned and created.
But it was inevitable that this creative harmony would not continue and soon the disagreements begun and they could no longer agree on how this story taking place on earth should be told. Recognising that such disagreements had brought about such previous destruction they went to speak to the middle star for him to decide. They requested he be the arbiter in their dispute. At first he was reluctant, much preferring to allow his mind to wander across space, however his fellow stars persisted and so somewhat reluctantly he agreed.
Initially he was not called upon to arbitrate that often perhaps every once in a while but then the demands of him as an arbiter became more frequent. This irritated the middle star who having never participated in this storytelling had no inclination to do so now and just wanted to be left in his meditative peace. He therefore refused.
This of course angered the other two stars but they did not return to their previous rage, instead they grew bored of telling this story on earth, indeed they grew tired of telling stories altogether. Therefore they just sat in the sky and looked down and watched the story unfold before them below. Observing what they had created as it begun its first unscripted chapter.
However, the urge to intervene became too great and as the stars looked down they could not help themselves but to weave the tapestry of the story once more. This time, however, they did not tell this story in unison. Like they did with their brethren they kept to their side of the sky and told their own story. But there was now no coherence to the narrative and it was as if one had written his story in ink on a page only for the other to write over it in a different colour.
The stars began to move further away from each other, paranoid that the other would see what they were doing. Soon, they were telling new stories just to spite the other and they no longer cared about their beautiful creation. They would purposely seek to destroy what the other had created and the other would reciprocate. More and more they moved away from each other until they could no longer be seen, leaving only the middle star in the sky to shine down on the consequence of their spite and rage.
When the middle star awoke from one of his meditative journeys through space he felt immediately alone. The last time he awoke from a trance all the stars had disappeared save for two and now this time there was no-one. They had gone. He looked down at the curious green and blue sphere and thought his friends maybe down there, experiencing up close what they had created.
He therefore descended upon the earth and took the form of one of his fellow star’s creation and began searching for his two celestial companions.
No-one knows what ever happened to those three stars. All that we do know is that they never shone in the night sky again.
The End…..Now go to sleep.
“That was a silly story Mummy” said the child, desperately stifling a yawn “Tell me another one….A better one.”
“Not now. Sleep!”
“Get the fuck to sleep!” mumbled the Mother under her breath before leaning in and kissing the child on the forehead “Night monkey.”
As the Mother turned off the light and gently closed the door the child let out one final cry of “Its a silly story!” before sleep finally overtook her.
The Mother leaned against the door and thought;
A silly story? Perhaps. Most true ones are.