and Their Very Special Wish
by Laury A. Egan
It was late on a very clear August night. The Moon was off on a holiday (as moons do from time to time). This left the Stars shining alone in the black summer sky, but they were quite unhappy.
“We cannot see our reflection,” said Altair with a frown and a shake of his yellow head. Altair is the eye in the Eagle constellation. He has especially fine eyesight and is a proud star.
“It is very sad,” agreed Deneb. “We shine down on Earth, but we don’t know if we are beautiful.” Deneb is a bright white star, sailing along in the Swan constellation.
Vega, who is bluish-white, is the Queen of summer stars and lives high overhead in the Lyre constellation. A lyre is a musical instrument like a harp. Vega thought about the problem very seriously. “Perhaps we can ask the Atlantic Ocean to be our mirror.”
“That is a fine idea,” replied Arcturus. The other Stars thought so, too. Arcturus is the sky’s second brightest star next to Sirius, who is on vacation during the summer. Arcturus is reddish-orange and is in the group called The Herdsman.
Vega was excited and cried out: “I will do it! Tra-la-la!” And so Vega called down to the Atlantic Ocean. “Ocean,” she said, “will you make yourself calm so we can see ourselves?”
“No, I’m busy!” huffed the Ocean, who was having fun making mean and nasty storms. The Atlantic loves to make waves and strong winds. It did not care about the Stars.
Vega was surprised at the Ocean. “Please?” she asked again, but the Ocean was no longer listening.
“Well, we shall ask the Sea to help us,” Altair suggested, as he flew to the Mediterranean Sea.
“Great Dark Blue Water, will you lie flat so we could use you like a glass?”
“So sorry,” said the Mediterranean, who could not calm itself. “Two mighty volcanoes are blowing up in the middle of my Sea. It is my job to eat all the rocks and lava that are exploding from the volcano as fast as I can so that the people who live in the towns and villages will not be hurt.”
“I see,” replied Arcturus. It was true that it was more important for the Mediterranean Sea to save people than to be a mirror for the stars.
“We must go to Lake Huron,” Deneb told the other stars. She then went to the Great Lake and politely asked it to be still so that the Stars could see themselves. But Lake Huron was playing hide and seek in fog. The fog was so thick that the Stars could not see the water at all.
“Come and find me!” laughed the Lake. “Ha! Ha!”
But since the Stars couldn’t see in the fog, they didn’t want to play with the Lake. They continued on their search.
Altair was twinkling very brightly, or so he thought. But since he could not see himself in the waters of the Earth, he could not behold how handsome he was. “I am disappointed in the Oceans, Seas, and Lakes,” he said.
“Me, too,” agreed the others one by one.
“Surely the Mississippi River will help us,” cried Arcturus. “But Vega should go and ask because she is the Summer Queen.”
And so Vega went to the Mighty Mississippi. “O Big Muddy” (for that is the River’s baby name), “Please show us our reflection!”
But the long River was in a hurry. “I have to run to New Orleans for Carnival, and I’m already late!” (Carnival is a holiday where everyone dresses up in costumes and has parties.) The Mississippi had no time to do as Vega asked.
Deneb could not believe it. Neither could Vega or Altair or Arcturus.
“Perhaps a simple Stream will be enough,” said Altair.
But when they visited a Stream, there had been a terrible thunderstorm earlier in the evening. The Stream was filled to its edges.
“I am too full and must rush and gush, rush and gush, rush and gush some more,” explained the Stream, whose water was very white with foam and froth.
The Stars sighed with growing sorrow.
Arcturus thought and thought. Brightening—which Stars do best—he said, “What about a little Pond?”
“Yes!” nodded Deneb eagerly. “Ponds are very small and should respect us.”
They searched and searched and finally found a little Pond. The water was very green with scum and slime. Even the frogs were not having any fun in the Pond because it was so dirty.
“I have lost my reflection,” explained the little Pond sadly. “If I had one, I would gladly let you use it as a mirror.”
The Stars believed the Pond and said goodbye with heavy hearts.
“What will we do?” wondered Altair. “The Oceans, Seas, Lakes, Streams, and Ponds will not help us.”
The Stars were growing dim with sadness because they found no water to show them their lovely, twinkling lights. They cried large, silver tears which turned into comets and meteors that flew wildly around the black sky.
“This is terrible!” said Arcturus. “We cannot see how beautiful we are!”
They wept more comets and meteors. Then, from far below, they heard a door close. A tiny child came out of a small red house.
The Stars smiled down their best beams of light so the child could see in the dark.
“It is very late for you to be out of bed, Child,” Vega said kindly.
“I know,” replied the little girl, “but I heard you talking and wondered who you are.”
“We are the four Great Stars of August,” said Vega proudly. “This is Altair, Deneb, and Arcturus. And I am the Queen, Vega.”
“Pleased to meet you,” the child answered. “My name is Mira.”
“Mira?” asked Deneb. “That is a Star’s name.”
“Yes,” agreed Vega. “It means Wonderful.”
Mira was very pleased and smiled up happily at the Stars.
“It is very late for a young girl to be out of bed. We did not mean to wake you,” Vega said, but then she sighed. Arcturus, Deneb, and Altair sighed, too.
Mira could tell the Stars were unhappy. She asked them why they were sad.
Altair, the Eagle star, answered: “We are very old and very wise, and yet we cannot see our reflections anywhere on Earth.”
“We have asked the Oceans, Seas, Lakes, Rivers, Streams, and Ponds to help us, but no one can show us if we are beautiful,” Vega explained, with a tear in her eye.
“You are very beautiful!” Mira told them.
But the Stars had lost some of their twinkle. Mira frowned and thought hard for a few minutes. Then she rushed into her house and ran into her room. Picking up the water glass from the table by her bed, she ran outside, careful not to spill the water. Her eyes were nearly as bright as the Stars. Slowly, she raised her water glass high up above her head. “Look!” she cried. And the stars looked, already growing brighter with curiosity. Inside the glass, the Stars could see themselves dancing joyfully in the water.
Altair, Deneb, Arcturus, and Vega were so surprised and happy!
“Thank you!” Queen Vega sang joyfully. “My, we are more beautiful than I dreamed! Tra-la-la!”
“Yes,” agreed Deneb, “Look how pretty I am! All in white!”
Altair studied his reflection, turning this way and that. “I have a handsome light,” he exclaimed. “Mira, you have done us a great service. You will be our favorite friend!”
Arcturus smiled great beams of light. “Every night, we will come and shine on you.”
Vega was enjoying her shining sparkle. “You are very special because you truly love us. I think you will grow up to be as beautiful as we are!”
“Indeed! Your eyes will always be filled with starlight,” Arcturus chimed in.
“I am so glad!” said the girl. “I love you, Stars, more than anything else!”
Deneb smiled. “And we shall bring you luck, if you wish upon us.”
“Thank you,” Mira said politely. “I will.”
“Now, it is time for all of us to go to sleep,” Vega said, “for soon, the Sun will rise. She is the brightest Star of all. So bright that the rest of us cannot be seen when she has risen.”
“That’s rather selfish,” said the girl.
“It is,” agreed Arcturus, who was often jealous of the Sun.
“Thank you for your gift of beauty,” said Mira to the Stars.
“Thank you for our reflections,” Altair answered, twinkling with good humor. “We will be with you in your glass, to light your dark room.”
Mira said goodbye to her new silver friends and went inside her house. In her bedroom, Mira took off her slippers and climbed into her high bed. She pulled up the covers and turned off the light. Then she looked at the table next to her and saw the water glass. Inside, the Stars were playing merrily in the water, their reflections shining their cheerful white lights all around her room.
“Good night,” she whispered.
“Pleasant dreams,” the Stars whispered back.
Happy, Mira fell fast asleep.
Hours later, the Sun came up and grinned a big yellow smile, and the sky turned bright blue. All the Stars were hidden, waiting for night when they could come out and play with their new friend, Mira.
© 2010 Laury A. Egan. All rights reserved.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR & ARTIST
Laury A. Egan though primarily an adult short stories writer, has appeared in journals such as Four Branches Press, Paradigm, Shortbread Stories (Scotland), The Maynard, and (forthcoming) Tryst. In addition to receiving a Pushcart Prize nomination, she has published a full-length poetry collection, Snow, Shadows, a Stranger, in 2009 (FootHills). You can visit Laury on the web at www.lauryaegan.com
Vincent van Gogh (30 March 1853 – 29 July 1890) was a Dutch Post-Impressinoist painter whose work had a far-reaching influence on 20th century art for its vivid colors and emotional impact. He suffered from anxiety and increasingly frequent bouts of mental illness throughout his life, and died largely unknown, at the age of 37, from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. One of his most well-known pieces, The Starry Night, is featured here.