Contributor: Madeline Dyer

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Stars are beautiful things. They just sit up there all day, sparkling and twinkling, watching us. Thousands of them, like little angels, guarding the earth.

Powerful. Mesmerising. Beautiful. Just like you.

And their colours! Pure beauty. I gaze for hours at them. And their energy! The power just drips from them, slowly, slowly disappearing until everything's gone. Until they ceased to exist, and you begin to question your own memory...

That's something I've been doing a lot. I've seen the way people look at me. The way their eyes scan me. They think I'm mad. Even the dogs think I'm mad. Maybe I am... who knows? Who can be sure of anything in this world?

Stars are the only friends I have, now that you've disappeared. Disappeared...

You promised that we'd always be together. Remember that night in Avonally? That moonlit walk by the beach... our hands interlinked... your dark eyes watching mine. The stars were guarding us then and we both realised it. You pointed up to them, didn't you? I still remember your silky, rich voice: “They'll always protect us.”

Protect. What a strange verb. Stars don't protect us. What are they? Dying suns? Lucky omens? Anchors in the night?

They disappear, eventually. Nothing's certain. Least of all stars. Yes, they sparkle. Yes, they cast the most brilliant light on people. But they burn up. They always burn up. Orange. Red. Gold. And if they don't? They run. They flee. They hide. Just like you.

What's the saying? You know... the one that Elena was always chanting... 'The strongest ones stay...' Sometimes, young children are the wisest. Sometimes, I wonder if she knew. Sometimes, I think she must have. Every now and again, I look at her. I notice the wild sparks in her eyes. I see the way her hair falls in a veil around her cherub face... like she's hiding your secrets, protecting you...

But that's stupid, right? She couldn't have known. No one could. Not even the witches in the darkest coven could've known what you were up to, what you were involved with. You were the poster child around here. You were the one who was telling us all that we had to fight... that we had to fight the change. That we had to fight the shifters when they came.

You were the one who unlocked your magic first. I was there that night. I still remember the look of sheer awe on your face when you channelled the stars' power. Your face had lit up. You'd looked even more powerful that night than ever before... standing there on that beach, your arms reaching for the stars, the milky aura embracing you... That was the man I fell in love with.

The red gleam in your eyes still haunts me. You still haunt me.

I tried to find you once. I thought that what we had was special. I thought that you still wanted me. I guess that I'm the fool. I was your girlfriend, yet I never even knew you. I just knew the 'you' that you wanted me to. The image you projected, it was strong, charismatic, powerful. Nothing like the real you...

Elena still tells me that I'm being harsh, too hasty... after all, we don't know what actually happened to you... you're like the stars: a mystery. An mystery that will always be out of reach. But I've got my feeling. My gut feeling. My instinct. And, I'm always right, aren't I?

The stars are all I have left of you. Each brilliant point of light evokes the strongest of memories every time I look upon them. I can't tear my eyes away from them for hours. They're so captivating. I lose myself to them. I'm consumed by them. But stars fade. Memories fade. Goodness fades. I'm spat out.

And the stars burnout.

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Madeline Dyer lives on a farm in the southwest of England, and has a strong love for mythology and folklore; this in particular inspired her to start writing fantasy. She is currently working on her fourth young adult fantasy novel.
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