Lonely Stars

In a country far, far away, in the concrete forest which we knew as a city, there stood a humble apartment building where a family of three lived.

The family was poor, and the parents were an unimaginative pair. They spent their dreary days like two rusty cogs in the social machinery, unaware of their purpose. But their 15-year-old son was different. Finding his home too boring for him, the boy would spend every evening in his attic-like room, looking up at the stars through his window while his parents read the paper and quarreled over trifles downstairs.

His dream was to become an astronaut.

It was, of course, an unreachable ambition. The boy was far too short to be recruited by the army, let alone the air force. The effects of malnutrition struck him early in life, leaving him looking 12 instead of 15. Yet he refused to give up his dream. Decent toys and cartoons were scarce in his days, and what little there were were not meant for poor kids like him. So the boy indulged himself in his fantasies. Standing before the window, he would look up at the stars, and imagine himself soaring through the night.

His father worked nine hours a day, six days a week at the largest factory in the city. He told his son that he, too, would go there when he grew up, for that's where everybody went. The boy did not object. After all, his father was not a good listener. Long hours in the dark workshops of the factory had worn out the man's emotions, and downing moonshines one after another in the cheap little bar behind their home had became his only pastime. The boy's mother worked as a cleaner in the same factory, and cleaning seemed to be her only purpose in life--whether at home or at work.

So the boy just kept staring at the stars, smiling and thinking that it was the best time of his day. He would whisper his happiness and woes to them, and watch with wonder as they winked knowingly at him, seeming to share his secrets.

One day, just as the boy was about to fall asleep, the stars answered him. Their voices rang through his head, telling him that they had been watching him all along. They invited him to come above and dance with them.

Without any hesitation, the boy climbed up the windowsill, and leapt. At that very instant, all the unhappiness and worries seemed to fall away from him, and crashed into a million pieces on the side walk seven stories below, while the boy himself soared upwards and upwards through the clouds, until finally he was among the stars that he longed for ever since childhood. His laughter ranged through the void, and the stars laughed with him.

His parent found his broken body on the sidewalk the following morning.