Courage of the Stars

Image of Set Stories Free - 2018
Image of Short Story
The constellations, seated on their heavenly thrones, liked nothing more than to watch the trivial lives humans lead. Every once in a while, a human would lead a particularly interesting life that would captivate the attention of the stars.
Courage? Courage!
How insulting to a writer! Of all the basic, simple, weak themes, they picked courage.
Her brows furrowed and her jaw clenched. She just wanted a challenge and they try to feed her this.
Courage was just being brave in spite of fear, and she had felt fear many times!
Although, she thought, as she released the iron grip on her pen, it had been a while since anything struck fear into her heart. Did she miss the hand-wringing, heart pounding, sweat dripping anxious wreck she become when met with challenge? Surely not!
But fear had in fact played a role in her life, more important than she originally thought. For her, it’s just been bothersome, fear and worry penetrating her conscious, but with fear removed, life had lost some of its appeal.
She never liked roller coasters, big and terrifying, they didn’t hold her attention. She supposed that some people rode them for the reason, the fear. Riding to the very top before whipping down the tracks, upsetting the stomach and making the head whirl.
The thrill.
The rush.
She hadn’t gone to any theme parks, but she supposed that if she got in line for a ride, waited, was strapped in, and the first climb, slow and deliberate, making you shake with anticipation for the first big drop, she would feel nothing but boredom.
She knew why - she knew why! - her fear had been sapped from her body. It was all his fault.
Since the day she was born, the stars watched over her, but her attention was only held captive by one: Orion.
He was her best friend, he had known her all her life, and whenever she needed him, he was there. She could look up and she could find him.
He had always given her courage.
He was gone in the summer; he traveled to the other side of the world where he conducted business. Fortunately, she was never in need of courage during the summer, but one summer was particularly cruel to her, and she was all alone.
He wasn’t there for her.
She remembered coming back - she had left for a period of time, on a journey of her own - early in the morning, the moon was still high in the sky and he was there. Her best friend.
He had come to see her off.
He had left for some time, too, and she hadn’t seen him since Spring, and there he was. He had come to wish her luck on her travels. Nearly crying when she saw him again, she chose the seat in the car that gave her the best view of him.
All summer, she had needed him, because he was the one she turned to when she left all alone. That summer she had gone through so much without him by her side, she knew he was needed wherever it was he had gone to, but still, she needed her friend. She didn't blame him, it was the same every summer.
She had traveled far away from home, almost to the other side of the world, but at night clouds full of thunder covered the sky, blocking him from her sight.
But he had come to say goodbye and it was more than she could have ever hoped for.
He stayed as long as he could, but the sun, that dastardly star, chased him away for the sun didn’t like the share the sky. After months of absence, both her and Orion needed to spend as much time together as they were allowed.
Orion gave her courage however, and since then she had become fearless.
And now she couldn’t write on a subject she didn’t understand, it would turn out messy, possibly contrived.
She wanted to write, it had been so long, she couldn’t remember the last time she puppeteered any of her marionettes and the day she decides it’s time to write again the theme she finds is courage.
Writing was the one talent she possessed, the one passion she had.
How could an author with no fear to feel convey exactly what she lacked to her audience?
Courage had eaten her from the inside out and Orion’s blessing had become more of a curse-
The blessing. Oh the blessing turned cruse! How was such an important detail left out? That last time she saw him, when she still had fear and worries in her heart, he had given her a blessing.
She had traveled far away, after some time had passed, it was time to go back home. She had gotten up early in the morning, so early in fact that the sun wouldn’t be up for many hours.
As she sat in the car, gazing up at the stars, her neck at an uncomfortable angle since Orion was more so above her than next to her, he said; “You won’t see me for awhile, I haven’t returned home to you yet and I’m afraid there’s still more for you to face.”
“How do you mean, Orion?” She has asked.
“I can’t give you the courage you look for when you crane your neck to search for me. I can’t speak the words you need to hear to lift you up and keep moving. Instead I give you this blessing, the courage of the stars.”
“How is that different?”
“When you search for me, you search for a friend, someone to talk to, but with this blessing, I can give you the courage you need without having to call on me. At least until I come home.”
But he hadn’t come home, not for awhile.
And her courage only grew, soon she had too much.
When would Orion come back to take it away?
When would Orion come back?
The courage he gave her had been wonderful at first.
She was independent, she got what she wanted, she was able to face her fears, she didn’t have to wait for night to fall to get the comfort of a friend. That comfort grew in her heart.
But like a weed it spread and took over. It choked out every ounce of fear she had held and for a while she felt invincible.
After three years the courage ate her heart, and Orion had yet to return to take the blessing back.
In school, she’d write stylistically, fearful that she would get marked down for using less than formal diction. But...
But oh, what relief when the paper came back and the teacher enjoyed her work. Her nerves soothed, and the roiling in her tummy settling.
She had no fear.
No nerves to soothe, no roiling to settle.
She had no idea how much she could miss those feelings, and how much she craved them now.
Courage, she would show them courage.
She stared at the blank paper, “When I get back I’ll show them what courage means.”
Standing to leave, searching for keys, mind made up.
She was going to the other side of the world and she was going to drag Orion back by the collar of his shirt.
Courage could wait.