PAULINE AND THE SHOOTING STARS

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About young love

He looked at her. She’d got up and was standing by the window, looking out. “I’m counting all the stars. There are so many tonight. More than a crowd,” she laughed, going up on tiptoe. “They’re angry and jostling one another. Look! So much shooting!”

He laughed. “The Wild West shooting stars. You’re so funny.”

“No, really, I’m not joking.”

She had drawn the curtains back to look better. Like loosely-braided hair they hung, she looking out in the middle while all the outside dark, every atom and ounce rushed on to the panes, to stare at her and help her see through to the firmament. She moved her head from side to side, attempting to count the chaos of falling starlight. “There are three, going down together!” she cried, triumphantly. “An end to those triplets!” she laughed. They streamed away, like threesome skaters, gliding the delicate slopes of their own disappearing into real slopes of hills, and then lost. “They’re out,” she said, flicking the lights off, Jim watching her, lovingly. The moon was around her figure, holding her, mildly, while the darkness in the room helped her to count the countless stars. Standing there, on tiptoe, her head raised, she stopped the moon entering the dark room and claimed it all for herself, then, moving slightly, let a scattering of light slip past her shoulders into the warm air it hardly blanched. He loved her as she stood there, a woman against whom the moon-lit light lit shapes of her, and he knew she wasn’t like Dawn, always wanting to be the centre of attention, forever rubbing up to and being rubbed by boys and men. Devoid of those problems, where they were now, helped him, the isolated landscapes, the unpopulated villages of scant cottages, tiny communities, making little or no contact with the big cities, to make his future with Pauline, even Pauline still as her window-figure was now.

“There’s another!” she cried. “So beautiful.” A large star, twisted free from its space in that universe, seemed to spin up hot, splayed out, wild, extravagant, tailing fire, then fell away, to be followed by a second of longer flame, dipping into the hills and wooded slopes. “Come and watch!” she cried, turning to him and missing a third star which quivered, quickly quenched, and plummeted down like a shot speck of a bird.

The moon was silvering the bronzed gate outside while in, it silvered the polished wood and metal in the room. Even as he watched and stood behind her with his lips and breath stirring the hair on the nape of her neck, other stars were falling and other objects in the silvery room glittered, moving white light, or so it seemed, while the glass swans themselves lit up, seemed brightened.

 

(From "After Dawn", a short novel about young love)

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