Every Soul a Star Read online

  I slip my hand in Ally’s. She turns, and besides the tears running down her cheeks and the look of awe in her eyes, I can see surprise and relief when she realizes it’s me.

  “Hey,” I say, squeezing her hand.

  Thankfully, she squeezes back. “Where’ve you been?”

  “Long story.”

  “You’ll have to tell it to me sometime. Some other time.”

  We laugh.

  So we stand there, part of a crowd a thousand people strong, beaming up at the sky with wonder. I know with a sudden certainty that wherever I am in the future—up in my treehouse, alone in the school cafeteria, or trying to figure out what my teachers are talking about, a part of me will always be right here, right now, with that giant eye in the sky shining down on me, telling me it’s going to be all right.



  As we stand hand in hand, it takes me a second to realize Jack has tears streaming down his face, and a second more to realize I do too.

  “Mr. Silver’s back!” I shout over the screaming of the crowd.

  “I know!” he shouts back.

  “And our planet! We found —”

  He laughs. “I know! Now look at the sky, not me!”

  I laugh too. This is all so surreal. Kenny runs up and thrusts the binoculars at me. He’s already taken the filters off. “Look at the prominences!”

  With one more squeeze Jack lets my hand go. I point the binoculars at the sky. Small pink streamers loop out from the darkened sun, one after another, and disappear. It’s so crazy to think the sun shoots those out all day long and we never see them. What beauty is hidden from us! I hand the binoculars to Jack and hear his sharp intake of breath as another one shoots out from behind the moon.

  I finally remember to look for the stars and am surprised that I can recognize them. Normally I wouldn’t be able to see these stars until winter, but now everything is reversed. It’s Orion! I can’t believe it!!! There’s Sirius and Betelgeuse! Rigel and Capella! And there’s Mercury and Mars and Venus, higher in the sky than they ever are at night.

  I scream out the names of the stars and the planets and point wildly at them until everyone around me is laughing. I’m filled with warmth and gratitude for this new group of friends. All my visions of what this day would be like never included anyone other than my family and Ryan’s. I always thought the only friends I’d be able to share it with would be Glenn, Eta, and Peggy. I never expected to have new friends on the same planet as me.

  I don’t notice Dad is gone until his voice comes over the speaker. “Everyone enjoying the eclipse?”

  The hollers and hoots and screams are the loud-est yet.

  “As soon as I count to five, time to cover your eyes and equipment again.”

  The crowd boos.

  “Remember, everything you saw is going to happen again, in reverse order. Hang on!”

  I try to collect myself and focus. Kenny and Melanie gather around the white sheet they put down, trying to see the elusive shadow bands. But if I want to see the moon’s shadow this time, I’ll have to remain alert. Dad counts down, and as soon as he gets to one, I throw on my glasses. The diamond ring returns, followed in quick succession by Baily’s Beads. I feel an inexplicable loss as the light of that single beam shining through a crevice on the moon erases the corona from view. My brain freezes again as I try to burn the image of that billowing circle of light into my memory. That was both the shortest and longest three minutes of my life.

  And I forgot to take a single picture.

  Before I can berate myself too much, for the second time today someone puts their hand in mine. This time there’s a sense of urgency. I tear my eyes away from the sky and turn to see Bree tugging on me.

  “Now!” she cries. Suddenly a wall of darkness races toward us at a speed I never would have thought possible. It hits us straight on, rushes past, and leaves me breathless and blinking. Bree and Jack and I whirl around in time to see it speed over the crowd and out to the eastern horizon.

  And as the shadow of the moon carries the darkness away, it takes something from me too. It leaves me lighter and freer and for the first time since I found out about our move, I truly feel like myself again. Everyone around me is bubbling over with joy. Bree’s blue eyes are brighter than I’ve ever seen them. She looks lit from within. Oddly, she’s now wearing a red scarf around her neck. It looks very nice on her.

  Jack is wiping at his eyes and trying to hide it.

  We mull around our little corner of the field for a while, babbling and gushing to each other about the eclipse. Then Bree says, “We’re going to see Mr. Silver. Come with us?”

  I shake my head. “I’ll meet up with you at dinner. I’ve gotta pack. Some girl is moving into my room.”

  Bree laughs. Jack says, “Are you sure?”

  I nod. Jack squeezes my hand one last time and then he, Bree, Ryan, and Melanie run off into the crowd.

  “Um, Astrodork,” Kenny says. “You still have your glasses on!”

  My hand instinctively reaches up and feels them on the bridge of my nose. “Yeah, well the eclipse is still going on, you know.” It’s true. The moon is still covering about a quarter of the sun.

  “You’re right,” Kenny says. He pulls his out of his back pocket and slips them on. Mom and Dad do the same. Without a word, we sit down on the white sheet Kenny had spread out earlier. As the sea of people pack up their equipment and head back to the campground, we sit there and watch until the very last nick of the sun is gone.

  “Well,” Dad says, clearing his throat. “That sure was something.”

  “When’s the next one?” I ask, half joking, half not.

  Mom and Dad laugh, but Kenny rattles off the dates of the next six eclipses. I have no doubt this won’t be the last one we see.

  “We can come back here sometimes, right?” Kenny asks. “I mean, to visit?”

  “Absolutely!” Dad says. “The Holdens have already asked us to run the Star Party next summer.”

  “Really?” Kenny and I say together, beaming at each other.

  Mom and Dad nod. “We thought that would make you happy,” Mom says. “We have to finish cleaning up here, but you guys are free to go.”

  I quickly throw my stuff into my backpack and say goodbye. I run all the way back to the house and up the stairs. Just as I suspected, my room does look different, post-eclipse. It looks smaller, like it can’t contain me anymore.

  After all, I’ve got a whole world to see.



  Chocolate (egg)Claire,

  i miss you too!!!!!!!! i wish you could have been here for the eclipse two days ago. I really can’t describe it except to say it was really different from what I thought it would be. I tried to describe it to this one lady named Bellana who is very nice but “fashion-sense challenged,” but i don’t think I did too good a job. My mom took a lot of pictures and Mel just printed them out so I’ll stick one in this package and you can see, and hopefully someday we’ll see one together? they have cruises where you can see it from the ocean. how fab would THAT be? I’m sending you this commemorative key chain even though you only have one key. i’m soooo sorry I won’t be able to take the class with you, i’m sure you’re learning a ton and you’ll be scouted at the mall for sure and you’ll have to tell me all about it. i’m also sending your Book back because now that you’re in the class you might really need it and I have a lot of pictures of us in my own Book so I won’t forget you, I promise.

  I hope you can come visit me up here soon. it’s different, too, from what i thought i guess. I’m still really scared, but not as much and there are things I sort of like, like you know that red nail polish on my toes from your party? it finally started to chip and I just let it, even though I had some red nail polish I could have used! but I bet it still looks better than lara’s freak toe! :o)


  Beach Baby Bree (who is currently very far from a beach, but t