It took eleven stars and foam stickers to make the shape I wanted. She held the pack of stars in her left hand by her ribcage, and held the star she was placing above her. I let her trace the ceiling with the star as I cradled my head in my pillow, speaking little commands and watching her put up my design. The sickly yellow of the stars clashed with the warm yellow of the ceiling, but it didn’t matter. The only thing that mattered was that I had rights to everything from the top bunk to the ceiling. Forget the window and the ground below; this was my space. With the power to assemble my universe I waved my hand around and she placed the little stars into the shape of one mother star. It looked like a little home, and I imagined myself opening its door and stepping into space—my space.
She turned her head and looked at me with sharp, questioning eyes because she was an artist. She probably didn’t mean to make me feel so stupid. My short-lived cluster of glow-in-the-dark stars on the pastel surface was a burst of my modern, six-year-old idea of creativity. Somehow it outshined the many pieces of scrap paper I had doodled on with her peeking over my shoulder.
Years passed and my doodles of girls in floral dresses sat in the dusty corner of my room and shared stories of when they were mirrors and their smiles echoed on the canvas in front of them. Page after page of secrets whispered their tales to the facing page and no one else. My meaty little fingers ripped those stars off the ceiling one night, but the six years of attachment gave way to a sad little star-shaped group of overhanging foam stickers.
The stickers cling to the roof of my rights. They are all that remains when I can’t fall asleep and the darkness is kept at bay by the orange light that pushes through the window. Sometimes I prefer the darkness—I prefer the darkness when the orange light invades my space and removes all the possibilities of what could be in that never-ending space except for one. Maybe that’s why I took down those stars. Maybe it’s because I can’t seem to find a way out of what I know and what I believe. Maybe it’s because they just didn’t match the color scheme of my room.
Now I am older, and the desperation of my imagination has boiled up, past that short ceiling and into the puffs of smoke that poison the air. I like to think that some remnants of what I thought can live up there with the stars and the like.
Isabella Di Pietro
Age 13, Grade 8