Sitara

Alison found a muddy little animal beside the road. At first she thought it was dead and avoided it, but Toto ran up and started licking the animal, and when Alison drew closer, she saw that it was breathing gently. If Toto liked the animal, then it couldn’t be a bad thing. Toto was never wrong about good things and bad things.

It was all curled up, and so was difficult to identify. It had fat arms and legs, and also a fat head, or was that a tail? There was a molehill nearby; it must be a mole, she thought. She’d found a little mole! What was it doing above ground though? Shouldn’t it be burrowing?

Alison picked up the little mole and found that it was much lighter than she expected – about the same weight as an apple, even though it was much bigger than that. And it wasn’t furry. Weren’t moles furry? And it didn’t seem to have any claws. How did it dig the hole?

She decided to take it back to her room; it could rest there. She would put it in a pillowcase and keep it in her bed. By the time she returned from school it may feel better, and then she could put it back in its hole. She would wash the pillowcase herself; Mummy would never know.

When Alison returned from school, the mole was still there, sleeping, with Toto curled up beside it. When she came up from dinner, it was still in the pillowcase, but had turned around. Later she saw the pillowcase moving. Little points appeared here and there, as if it was trying to get out. When she opened the pillowcase, she heard a little yawn. It was a squeaky yawn, like when you polish an apple and the skin squeaks.

Alison pulled the mole out of the pillowcase, and saw it was now less brown and more golden. Some mud must have rubbed off in the pillowcase. More surprisingly, after another yawn with its pointy arms spread wide, the little mole asked, “Is it night-time yet?”

Alison was so surprised that she didn’t think, just answered, “Not quite yet; maybe in an hour or so.”

“Oh good,” said the animal. “I better start getting ready.”

“Ready for what?” said Alison.

“To shine in the sky, of course,” said the animal. “That’s what I do.” As it spoke, its colour became more golden.

“Aren’t you a mole?” said Alison. “I found you beside a molehill.”

“I’m not a mole!” said the animal. “My name is Sitara. I’m a baby star.” Alison realized that the arms and legs and head/tail were actually five star-points, and in between them was a tiny dolly-face. “I felt dizzy last night, and came home early. I guess I didn’t make it. I must have fallen.” Toto nuzzled and then licked Sitara’s face; she giggled.

“Why do you live in a molehill?” said Alison.

“It’s not a molehill, silly. Haven’t you heard of starholes? We need a place to rest too. It’s hard work staying in the sky all night, shining. I’m still training and made a mistake.” Sitara looked sad; her little mouth stopped moving and her golden colour dimmed slightly. “My parents must be really worried,” she said. “They probably haven’t slept all day.”

“Don’t you mean, ‘slept all night’?”

“No, silly. We sleep during the day, because we’re out all night. Would you please take me back to my home before dark?”

Alison felt bad now. Her good intentions had not worked out. “Ok get back in the pillow case,” she said. “I’ll take you out. Toto! Come on. Let’s go.” Luckily her Daddy was watching the news. There was a story about a meteor shower. Alison sneaked out to the starhole.

Sitara was glowing brightly when she emerged from the pillowcase. There was also light emerging from the starhole. “Well thank you,” said Sitara. “That was nice of you to look after me last night. I won’t forget that.”

“It would have been nice to spend some more time with you,” said Alison. “But I guess you’ve got to go.”

“I’m afraid I do. There are always stars getting old and dying; so there have to be new stars ready to take their place. We must fill the sky each night; otherwise people would lose hope, and there would be no way for people to ‘follow their star’.” Sitara offered her golden arm, which Alison held for a while. Then Sitara said, “Goodbye,” and disappeared into the starhole. Toto tried to follow her, but Alison told him not to.

She stared at the glowing hole for a while and then began walking home. There was a scrabbling noise, and Sitara’s little face popped out of the hole. “My mum says I should show you something,” she said. “You might get a little bit dirty though.” Alison shook her head to indicate that was ok. “Ok, just push aside this dirt and peer into the hole.”

When Alison did so, she saw six more baby stars inside. They were shining and wriggling, preparing to enter the heavens. A much bigger star entered the chamber, and said, “Hello, I’m Sitara’s mum. Thanks for looking after her last night. Since our last starhole got paved over, we’ve had a few, shall we say, navigation problems. You’ve probably seen the potholes in the road. That’s where we’ve landed in the wrong place. I wish they’d stop building roads everywhere. It confuses us. And then there are roads with all-night lighting – don’t even go there! In case you’re wondering, all stars are born on earth in starholes, and eventually die in space in black holes. And in between, we spend most of our lives shining.”

Alison stayed awake to watch the stars emerging from the starhole. One by one they shot into the sky and formed the Seven Sisters.

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One Response to “Sitara”

  1. Delightful.
    A bit disturbing to find “animal” “the animal” three times in the first paragraph, especially when it really was not an animal at all.

    “began walking home” Still looking at the hole?

    I look forward to discussing some time your rationale for the use of “said” after a question mark. It always stops me.

    I don’t have much experience with vignettes or cameos, but I must say I felt rather left up in the air with no conclusion.

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