Falling Stars

Last week I shared a few images to inspire some of you to write, but I wanted to take part in the exercise too. I came up with the first seven hundred words or so of a short story based on the featured photo for this post. It’s unfinished. It’s rough and raw, but I think it’s important to acknowledge that this is a first draft, and all first drafts are meant to be messy. It gives me a weird sort of anxiety to share this, knowing the story isn’t finished and knowing this isn’t polished. But a wonderful writing friend, Meredith, encouraged me to post this anyway, so here we are. Let me know what you think! If you participated, please feel free to share your stories with me. I’d love to read them.


The last time I stood in front of this door, sunlight trickled in, the rays embracing me with a hug. Now, darkness evaded every scrape on the floor, sending shadows into the stillness. A hollow feeling crept into my chest as I took a deep breath and tried to glimpse the world outside. Next to me, empty and corroded bottles of soda lay scattered, a testament to a time that no longer existed. I hadn’t gone outside in one hundred and seventy-five days. The last time I stepped outside the door, night blackened the sky, and as it did, a star fell and tore Mildred apart.

The echo of her screams haunted me, and my hand shook as I raised my hand to the handle. The sound of running footsteps behind me broke through my thoughts. I cringed as I heard my friend, Honor, coming up behind me. I slowly turned to face her.

“You can’t go out there, Kyia,” she said to me. The sound of her gravelly voice, aching with a swell of grief, made me pause for a moment.

“I have to, Honor. I know…we lost Mildred. But the school can only protect us for so long. If we don’t go back out there, we will never know. We’re doomed to die, one way or another.”

Honor reached toward me and grabbed my arm, pulling me back. Outside, I swore I saw a twinkle of starlight. Would the stars come for me? I wondered.

Honor hissed at me. “No, you’re wrong. Sprouts are growing in the greenhouse. We can produce enough to sustain us until we figure something else out.”

I smiled and shook my head, trying not to lose my resolve. I wanted nothing more than to stay inside walls of the school that had protected us all the past year, but I’d seen Paula’s eyes last night as she whispered to Grayson that she had dispensed the last of the medicine to my sister, Eden.

Eden had been running a fever for a week straight. I would not let her die.

“Honor, I have a plan. Trust me,” I said with finality. A certainty dripped into my voice that didn’t actually beat in my heart.

“Let me come with you,” Honor countered.

I shook my head. “No, you need to stay here and…”

Before I could finish, Honor interrupted me. “If it’s safe enough for you to go outside, then you can take me, too. If you have doubts, stay here. Those are your options, and I won’t change my mind.”

I sighed. This wasn’t part of my plan. “Honor…”

But even as I said her name, I knew she wouldn’t be swayed. “Fine, you can come, but you must listen to me, alright?”

Honor nodded. I sighed and pulled open my backpack. I handed her a small shard. She glanced down at it, her brow furrowing in confusion as she stared at it. Moments later, realization spread across her face.

“Is this…” She paused and took a deep breath. “Is this part of the star that killed Mildred?”

I nodded. “I collected all the pieces I found. It shattered as it destroyed, and I probably shouldn’t have, but I thought they might be useful.”

Honor shook her head, still not understanding. “How is this supposed to help us stay safe out there?”

I glanced away, not able to meet her gaze. “I think if we eat it, it will protect us long enough to get into town, to get the supplies we need and head back.”

“And you’re basing this on what exactly?”

“Just trust me or I will go by myself,” I snapped at her. Frustration roiled through me. I couldn’t tell her why I knew this would work. The sicker Eden got, the more she dreamed, and the more she dreamed, the more she told me. Things that would happen. Things that hadn’t yet come to pass. But they always happened exactly as she said, and she had let this detail slip a few days ago. I wasn’t about to ignore it.

I moved to grab the shard back from Honor, but before I could grab it, she swallowed it.

And then she screamed.

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