We Are ☆ Star Club!
"By the way," I said, poking at my dinner, "We’re having our first stargazing meeting tonight."
"What, at this hour?"
Dad wasn’t home yet, so it was only my mom who looked at me with a worried expression.
"Tomorrow is Saturday," I explained, "so why are you asking this? We can’t look at the stars if it’s still daytime."
"You and your star obsession," she shook her head, "I just don’t get it."
"I know, mom. Just let me have fun."
"Yes, dear." She sighed, but there was a smile on her face. "It’s good to know that you already made friends."
She really worried about me. It is nice, to know she cared, but I just wish that it wasn’t about my friends, my hobbies, or how I spend my time. I’m doing just fine, so there’s literally no reason for her worries.
"I’ll be back later. Don’t worry, I won’t wake you or dad up."
"That’s very considerate of you. Don’t stay up too late, yes? Just because you’re sixteen doesn’t mean you have all the time and energy in the world."
"Yes, mom." What did she know? I just wanted to get out of the house now. "Thanks for the meal. I’ll see you tomorrow morning."
"Alright! Have fun."
Mom waved me goodbye, before taking care of the dishes. Finally free, I put on my coat, grabbed my backpack and camera before heading out the door.
Outside, the fresh, cool spring air greeted me and I took a few, deep breaths. At night, the whole city was transformed: under the dark blue sky golden lights glittered and showed me the way. Windows were lit up, twinkling with life under the blanket of stars above. I tilted my head back, looking at the bright dots of light. There was no way none of them contained life, right?
I found it comforting to think that humanity wasn’t alone out here. What we could learn from other lifeforms. How different - or maybe how similar - we would be. I didn’t like the thought of aliens coming to Earth to take over the planet, control and enslave humanity and other such horrible things. There were already enough horrors here, we didn’t need any more. I just wanted some extraterrestrial friends, if I was being honest. I had voiced that wish once or twice on the forums that I visited, and mostly got laughed at. Still, I knew deep down, that one day I would see an alien, and extend my hand in friendship.
That was probably my reason for loving the stars, after all.
I wandered through the streets, lost in my thoughts, just as much at home here as the cats I could see in the dark, tails flicking and eyes glowing bright. I waved at one of them under the nearest streetlight, and it meowed back at me. If that wasn’t a good sign, then what?
Slowly, I arrived at the school, so different during the night. Menacing, in a way that both terrified and excited me; a giant shadow against the sky. We’re going to make this a great night. No matter how this will end, tonight will be a wonderful experience. I’m sure of it! I just can’t think of what comes afterwards...
"Ah, Sara, you’re here!"
Erica’s voice snapped me out of my thoughts, and I saw the girl waving at me close to the school’s entrance. She was wearing a big, puffy jacket, the dark material shining under the artificial light of the street lamps. At her side were Pudding, wearing layer over comfy layer of knitwear, and Maria, in a cozy cardigan and a cute, red scarf.
"We need to get the equipment to that hill." She pointed at a hill in the distance, close enough to the school but hopefully far enough away that we wouldn’t be disturbed. "Are you ready to do some lifting?"
She looked expectantly at all of us, but Maria shook her head.
"Ahaha, I’m sorry, but I don’t lift."
Erica looked at her, while starting to walk towards the school’s entrance. We all followed her.
"What exactly did you think we would do here?"
"I don’t know? Look at the stars?"
"Yes, but how?"
"With... our eyes?"
Maria seemed to get smaller and smaller while we went to the club room.
"Of course we look at them through our eyes! But you can’t see much without the proper equipment, right?"
Erica shook her head at the girl.
"It’s a group effort, all right? You don’t even have to lift the telescope alone. Sara, will you help her?"
"Sure," I answered.
I really didn’t mind. As I knew we had the equipment here, I didn’t bring my own, aside from my camera. I always used it to take pictures of the sky (or possibly UFOs, if I got lucky and they didn’t turn out blurry). Today I had mostly focused on staying warm, but even with my thick coat, the cold clung to my hands, now buried deep in the pockets. It wouldn’t be fun to get the telescope to the hill with bare hands, but we had to do it, anyway.
Erica pointed at the telescope.
"Sara, you take the handle and walk backwards, while Maria supports it."
"Understood," I answered, lifting the heavy case.
"Ah! Okay, okay, okay."
Maria handled the case with the same care she would probably handle a hamster. Which meant, she basically wasn’t lifting it at all.
"Can you focus on the way? I don’t want to trip."
Well, I was mostly worried about falling and breaking the expensive telescope and its case.
Together, we managed to get out of the school, while Erica and Pudding followed with a picnic blanket, binoculars and a star map. They were the ones I could see, instead of the way ahead of us, so I wasn’t surprised when they managed to pass us by.
"We’re going to prepare the place", Erica said, "So don’t worry about not being able to find it."
"Great", I huffed.
We went on, Maria guiding us, and I started to realize she was shivering. I tilted my head.
"Are you cold?"
"No," she answered, and sneezed.
"Maybe," she added.
I shook my head, feeling slightly guilty. I should have told her about dressing the right way when we were talking about going stargazing. She did look cute in her outfit, but that wouldn’t keep her warm.
"Okay, we can share my coat. But first, we have to get this telescope up the hill, okay? When we set it down now, I’m not sure if we’ll ever pick it up again."
I managed to smile, even though the weight of the telescope was really starting to exhaust me.
"Aw, you’re so sweet, Sara."
"Ah, no- I… Thanks."
I didn’t know how to respond to that. Usually, my efforts to help went unnoticed, but Maria seemed to know exactly what others needed to hear. It was a talent I admired, and was just a tiny bit envious of. I never knew what to say. Still, I wanted to say something.
"So, what are you most excited to see tonight?"
"Um..." Maria was silent for a second, lost in thought. "I don’t know? I think all the stars are pretty."
"Oh. that’s nice."
This really wasn’t how the conversation was supposed to go. What stars do you want to see today? What a stupid question, I thought, shaking my head.
"What about you?"
"Hm? Oh, the meteor, I think. I know most of the stars already, like..."
I looked up at the sky above us. Even though there was still some light around us, making the stars more difficult to see, I could see some of the big constellations.
"See this slightly yellow-ish star? If you connect it with the other ones close to it, you get Ursa Minor, which is Latin for small bear."
"Yeah. I’m sure you can see more of them on the star map that Pudding has."
"That’s so cool! I don’t know much about the stars, to be honest. I just think they’re pretty."
I tried to focus on Maria again, hearing the smile in her voice. It was great to have someone to chat with about my hobby.
"And soon, we’ll see the meteor, coming from that direction." I craned my head to the left. "Maybe if we squint, we can already see it among the other stars, but it’s not supposed to really be seen for an hour or so."
"Ah! But the others are there, for us to see whenever we want."
"Once we get this properly set up," I said, looking at the big case between us, "You can see them even better."
"Hey! Over here!"
I could hear Erica’s voice, which meant that we were close to our destination. Finally. With her help, we managed to bring the case to the picnic blanket, already laid down, with Pudding sprawled out on it, looking up at the stars. At night, she seemed to be a bit more active, or at least awake.
"You two did great. Here, let’s put it down. I’ll set it up, so you don’t have to worry about it."
With that, Maria let Erica take her spot, sitting down next to Pudding. I helped Erica with the last few steps, before finally catching my breath. It was probably not the best idea to strain myself this much, but I wasn’t sick anymore. Now I just had to make sure I didn’t get sick again. But I wanted to share my coat with Maria, as she shouldn’t get sick, either. I sighed. Somehow, all of this wasn’t as easy as I thought.
Exhausted, I sat down on the blanket, closing my eyes.
"I brought some sandwiches, do you want one?"
Maria had opened her bag, rummaging through it and showing off some very cute sandwiches, decorated with various cute food picks. I smiled at Maria.
"Sure, that sounds wonderful right now."
We did it. Now, we just had to wait for the meteor.