The stars were out, like little fires on a black curtain. James looked closely at them and believed they grew, because he thought about them growing, burning away the curtain, but they weren’t, really. He thought that maybe the sky was just a big blanket thrown over the world, and there was no space or solar system beyond, and the stars were holes, or tiny fires. He could smell the smoke.
“What’s burning?” he asked.
Cynthia said, “The fire.”
James heard crackling, like a tiny tap dance. He had made the fire, which was getting low. They were outside in the campsite, a sleeping bag rolled out underneath them and another one overtop them.
“Your beard smells like woodsmoke,” Cynthia said. She slid her leg over his lap, and her nose was in his beard. Her skin was hot. “You’re cold,” she said.
“I don’t feel cold.”
“But you are.” She put her hand under his shirt and rubbed circles over his chest to warm him even though he already felt warm.
He thought about the stars as faraway suns, and he could smell them burning. Heat and fire punctuated the universe. He imagined words floating in the sky, and each star was a period, but the periods were white and the words were black and sometimes blue or grey or red in the evening. Would the words be English? God wouldn’t write in English, though He probably spoke English, so maybe the words were English. Maybe they looked different to different people in the world. French in France, Spanish in Spain. Even dogs would see their language, and babies theirs, the blind in their blindness would see the words. The sun was the end of the Earth and Mars and Venus and the others, the end of their story, and the campfire was the end of James’s story, maybe, or there could be another line, another sun, another son.
James kissed Cynthia, there under the words in the sky, and beneath billions of dying suns he thought about new pages waiting to be filled.
Day 297’s three random writing prompt categories were, “Under the stars,” “‘Is something burning?'” and, “Maybe this time.”