When I was seven years old, my father took me star gazing. We lay
underneath the sky, wrapped in blankets, our eyes wide open. We
would search in silence, only interrupted by thewind rushing through
the trees and the murmur of cars in a far away land. It was so peaceful,
the sky so bright. I remember now only in dreams and sadness, but
my father once told me that Orion was his favourite constellation.
‘But why?’ I would pester him, engulfed by the magic of Gemini
and the brightness of Perseus. ‘Because,’ he would take my hand, ‘No
matter where you are in the world, no matter if it’s cloudy or clear,
you can always see The Hunter with his belt and shining sword. In
this way, I believe we can always be together.’
My father lied to me. You can’t see stars inNewYork City. Instead
the sky is filled with murky smoke and the fluorescent light of a
thousand buildings. And even if you could, there would be no
appreciation of the endless centuries that glow up above. When I
first moved to this city, I would search
The Celestial Handbook
similarity, a sense of being at home but I felt like I was wandering
aimlessly, lost. All I knew was that I hated this city.
The summer that my father passed away, we all had our own ways
of coping. I spent my days studying the ceiling of my room and
listening to my father’s records. Clouds floated through the endless
blue but the evening sky had lost its magic. My Mum was a strong
woman but she needed her family. She wrote e-mails and talked in
monotones to her sister in New York. Once I woke in the early
morning and pressed my ear against her door. I realised then, with a
sense of unease, that we wouldn’t be staying in Albuquerque for long.
Tick, tick, tick
, the harder I try to ignore the noise, the louder it gets.
I’ve been in New York for only a week but somehow it feels longer.
Sitting in my aunt’s kitchen, she pesters me about if I’m excited
about my new school or if I had a boyfriend in New Mexico. I smile
politely but I soon realise that my aunt knows nothing about me.
When my mum walks in and states that, ‘Caroline hates New York
City,’ her face registers from shock to confusion to concern.
I look away, embarrassed. ‘She says that the people are too loud
and the towers are too tall.’
‘Kinda different from New Mexico, right?’
I smile half heartedly but excuse myself a minute later. I am
different from them; I prefer silence and my thoughts. My father
was the same.