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The Sun, the Moon, and All the Stars

Alexa Halpern

Day 1: Cassiopeia 

The story of a beautiful woman. 


She didn’t know what pushed her to do this—to sneak out of her bedroom window at an

ungodly hour of the night—but she couldn’t stop it now. She was already climbing the rickety ladder that was barely supported on the brick wall of the apartment. It was too late to turn back. 


By the time she reached the roof, she was shocked to find someone else was already there.

A boy with brown hair so dark that it looked black. A sharp jawline and hunched shoulders. His knees were drawn up to his chest, and a cigarette hung loosely between his fingertips.  


She froze immediately at the sight. No one was ever here this late at night, so why now? Just

as she took a step backward to scurry back to her room, the roof creaked underneath her. 


The boy whipped his head towards her with his eyes wide, large as saucers. He looked like a

deer caught in the headlights. Maybe an owl.  


At the sight of her, the muscles in his shoulders relaxed. He exhaled, thin fog escaping from

his thin lips. “Oh. I thought you were the landlord.” 


She raised an eyebrow. “He’s a little heavy to come up here, don’t you think? He’d probably

break the ladder.” 


The boy grinned. “Yeah, you’re probably right.” He scooted over a few inches and patted the

roof next to him. “Wanna come sit? I mean, you’re already up here.” Not knowing what else to do, she complied. She walked slowly, tilting her feet at just the right angle to prevent herself from falling off the building. However, the boy didn’t seem to mind her slow movements. After she sat down, he stuck out his hand. “I’m Aiden,” he said. “I live on the fourth floor.” 


She accepted the handshake. His skin was warm, much warmer than she knew hers was. His

palms were calloused, and his fingers were rough. But his touch was gentle, so she didn’t mind. He felt real—a real, living person. 


“Selena,” she said. He gave her a smile, bright as the moon above them. She returned it,

although hers was close-lipped and tight. 


“So what brings you out here?” Aiden asked. He leaned back slightly, propping his body

weight up on the heels of his palms.  


“I like to come out here sometimes,” she answered. “I love to look at the stars.” 


He wrinkled his nose. “The stars? I’m more of a sunrise-kinda guy myself.” 


“Is that so?” she asked. Her tight smile became a smirk unwillingly. “Then why, pray tell, are

you out here at three in the morning when there’s no sun to be found?” 


“It was time for a change,” he answered. His voice was breathy, barely louder than a whisper.

His honey-brown eyes reflected the constellations above them, and she could see him losing himself in the sky.  


The last thing she remembered was how beautiful he looked under the stars. 



Day 42: Cygnus 

The story of an unselfish friend. 


“Come on! At least once!” 


“No! I’m not doing it!” 


“Why not?” 


“Because I need my sleep.” 


“So that’s why you’re up at four in the morning on a school night?” 


Selena grinned. “Got me.” 


Aiden’s eyes softened as he looked towards her. “Please? I always see the stars for you. You

should come out and see the sunrise with me.” 


She sighed dramatically, flipping her hair with enough force to make Aiden chuckle from

beside her. “Alright, fine,” she said. She poked his ribcage with her index finger. “But if I’m a sleep-deprived mess, you can’t get mad at me.” 


“You can’t be tired in the morning if you don’t fall asleep,” he joked. “The sun will be up in

two or three more hours. Just stay up with me until then.” 


Selena stared at him with the same wide eyes he gave on the first night they met. By now,

that felt so long ago.  


She agreed. She sat with him for hours, waiting for the sun to blossom up from the

horizon, just as it did every morning. Although Aiden tried to distract her with conversations of every topic he could think of, his soft voice was too soothing. She fought to keep her burning eyes open and to force away the sleep from her bones. 


But she had to stay awake. Aiden always stayed up with her, long into the night, even

though he was a morning person. He always sat with her as she laughed, or ranted, or cried. He was always there for her; she needed to do this for him too.  


Just as his voice was about to lull her to sleep, Selena heard a soft gasp. “Look!” 


“Hmm?” She rubbed her eyes and tried to focus on the blur of colors coming from the edge

of the horizon. “Already?” 


His honey-brown eyes crinkled with laughter. “I knew you clocked out,” he joked. A snarky

quip was on the tip of her tongue, but the words died away as the sun stretched its rays into view.  


It was more beautiful than anything she could ever imagine. It was like stepping into a

painting, like she was hovering in the warmth of a fire. The colors melted and swirled together—marmalade orange with liquid gold. The blues of the night faded into purple, then pink, then the fiery colors in the center. It was ethereal. 


She looked towards Aiden, but he didn’t turn to meet her gaze. Still focused on the beauty

of the sunrise, he stared straight out into the horizon, a look of awe painted on his face. His eyes reflected the sun’s rays, which turned his irises into pools of rich amber. 


Selena smiled. She didn’t mind sitting out with him if this was the sight she was blessed

with each morning. 



Day 118: Orion 

The story of a man who was stung for his actions.  


It was hard to determine where it went wrong. After months of meetings on the rooftops,

Selena had begun to feel the fluttering sensation every night when they met up and every morning when they separated. She grew to love the routine. She would drag him out of the apartment at night to look at the constellations; he would drag her out of her sleep at dawn to look at the sunrise. That was how their relationship worked, and she couldn’t be happier. 


Until one day, he didn’t show up. 


She waited for hours for Aiden to come, but he never did. When she climbed back down

the rusted ladder after daybreak, there was a deep pit in her gut. The butterflies in her stomach had transformed into a heavy stone that rested there uncomfortably. She didn’t know what to do. 


One day had turned to two, then three, then four. Soon, a week had passed since Aiden had

last shown up to the roof. Selena still found herself there, just as she always had, but she hated the odd, lingering feeling of solitude. She hadn’t felt it when she first started going to the roof, but after spending so long with someone only to have them leave, she couldn’t be too surprised. 


It took three weeks for him to come back. When she heard his heavy footsteps on the

shingles of the roof, she didn’t bother turning around to greet him. 




She didn’t answer. She didn’t turn around. She just stared straight ahead at the

constellations in the sky. Maybe if she ignored him long enough, he’d leave. 


“Selena, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you.” She didn’t answer. Aiden sighed and took a

seat next to her. She stiffened slightly at the action, but she tried her hardest to ignore him. “I should have told you.” 


“Where have you been?” she snapped. “Why haven’t you showed up these last few weeks?

Was this just some sort of game to you? A temporary distraction?” 


He winced at her words. “No, no, I promise it isn’t. I just…” He sighed and ran his fingers

through his hair. Each chocolate brown lock was messy, as though he’d done it several times before arriving. “They’re fighting again,” Aiden said. “My parents, I mean.” His chin was propped up on his fist. It was then that Selena saw the bruises dotting his knuckles. Another bruise under his jaw. She didn’t know if she should say anything. “I spent a little while with my aunt to get away from them. I’m so sorry.” 


“You could’ve told me,” Selena said. Her voice was soft, gentler than it was before. Guilt

nagged at her chest. “I would’ve understood.” 


“I didn’t know.”  


They sat in silence for several moments before Selena dipped her head down to face her

lap. “My parents argue a lot too,” she admitted. “I don’t think they’ll be together much longer.” 


Aiden nodded. He understood. He always understood her. 



Day 276: Andromeda 

The story of a rescue. 


She didn’t expect to spend her night clutching Aiden’s side after catching him in the act.

She didn’t expect to see his toes touching the perimeter of the roof, so close to the edge that the thinnest gust of wind would knock him off the side.  


His head was on her chest, and she rubbed circles into his back. His muscles felt firm under

her fingertips, and his scent made her lightheaded. 


She asked him why. He showed her the texts.  


The divorce. The threat of being kicked out. The fear of his father. He couldn’t do it



So she held him, engulfing his body in all the love she could muster, as if it would protect

him from the rest of the world. 


Their nightly meetings were always spent trying to ignore reality. This night was no



Day 408: Ursa 

The story of a lover’s death. 


She always wondered if she too might end up in the sky one day. Maybe she would turn

into a star, shining brightly for all to see and guiding everyone who looked her way. Maybe she and Aiden would become a constellation together. Two star-crossed lovers forever etched into the sky. 


It was both romantic and terrifying. 


At almost a year into their nightly meetings, Selena realized that would never happen. 


Aiden stopped meeting again. This time, she knew it was indefinitely. After all, you couldn’t

watch the stars with someone who was dead. 


The funeral was just as bleak as she’d imagined, and she knew he would hate it. It was a

closed casket event. No one wanted to see his body, mangled and bloody after launching himself off the side of the roof.  


She had seen his body before anyone else. 


When she had gone out to see the stars, just as she always did, she let her feet dangle off the

side of the roof. She’d seen him when she looked down. 


Months had passed since the funeral, but it didn’t get any easier to watch the stars alone.

She imagined that he was there beside her, his ghost resting his head on her shoulder as a cigarette hung loosely between pale, transparent fingers. She wondered if his eyes were still honey-brown, even in the afterlife.  


As she stared up into the sky and saw the constellation Lyra above her, she didn’t know

whether to laugh or cry at the irony. A lover taken away by Hades himself. She knew how Orpheus felt now and wondered if she’d act the same way. 


Not knowing what else to do with herself, she sat on the roof, watching the night sky fade to

the sunrise that Aiden loved so much and wondering if he loved her the same way he did the sky. 

Spring 2021

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