I was eight and sleeping over at Mindy Miller's farm. I always slept over, we were best friends and all. I guess we were on our best behavior considering the previous weekend we were all busted in Mr. Miller's small cinder block garage for playing some sort of doctor game. But it was Ryan Farely, the pervert neighbor kid who had suggested it and indeed we were curious. And if Stupid Frankie Pinnel hadn't knocked over that shelf we would have been in the clear. After the talk about the sanctity of our bodies by our mothers, we made a pact to behave and at the very least to exclude Frankie from any future excursions concerning curiosity.
It was about nine o'clock and hot still. We stood outside of Mindy's house in our white cotton nightgowns. Our small flat chests chaffing against the material as we climbed the fence that divided her property from the Farley's. We always sat on that fence. It was slipping into pure black night and in the country darkness is massive. If you were a city kid or a pussy like Frankie you would be afraid, but we weren't scared of night. It meant that the tent of sky light stars would open and we would crane our necks back and talk. Talk about eight year old fears and wonder what we would look like when we were twenty. How we would change. It didn't matter much that my friend was skinny and had buck teeth or that I was chubby with incredibly large feet for my age. Everything was fine and when we looked up we weren't afraid of the curious future.
And then we heard him scream. He was yelling our names so loudly. We were busted again. Across the road. On the gate. In our nightgowns after dark. Only Mr. Miller was jumping up and down and flapping his arms and motioning us over towards the house. He was squealing and against the porch light dim we could tell he wasn't angry, only excited about something. The closer we came to the yard we could see Mr. Miller's face scrunched up and strange and his finger pointed sharp towards the green wet grass. It was there on the lawn, burning and popping. A meteorite. Mr. Miller said it was matter from the solar system. Fallen from up there. He wasn't even mad that we were on the fence because this was important he had said. Soon it was over like the way a sparkler from the fourth of July simply stops with that last shooting spark. I remember Mindy's teenage sister came home and thought we were stupid to be so excited. She hadn't seen it. She swatted us away and walked into the house. She was mean and wretched, but I still wanted to be her. I fell asleep on the top bunk that night wondering if it was anything special to see the sky fall.
Now I'm twenty three and drinking a raspberry ginger ale with my friend Pete. It is September and hot still. We are on his roof in the city. He is complaining about not being able to see the stars so well and what he going to do with himself in the Fall. I tell him about that night out at Miller's farm. He listens hard and tells me how beautiful, how rare of an occurrence. Do I know this he is asking me as he leans in closer. I hear him, like a murmur. But I am thinking, I am wondering if Mindy can remember that one night out of the hundreds we spent in childhood.
And Pete is now looking up like we all do to escape the ground. To swim around in the sky. I take out a deck of blue playing cards from my handbag and we begin to play war. I'm beating him but that's not why he's jealous. He wants to see one too. A moment that stops everything else. I can see it in the way he looks at the card that accidentally flies out of his hand and over the edge. Falling blue matter...
written in 1996/ats