Stars Up There

This is the visual prompt for Magpie Tales this week.

Here is my story.

Mabel was happiest in attic rooms. She hated to admit it but after her mother died and she went to live with her grandmother, it was the happiest time of her life. The only spare room in Grandma’s house was the attic. It became Mabel’s room. They had moved all of the stuff out of it together. The stuff of memories, her grandmother had said. Baby clothes, school books, coffee percolators that no longer worked. Mabel held onto a genuine wind up clock with golden hands and some fancy silver spoons with palm trees that said Vanuatu. She didn’t know where Vanuatu was but it sounded faraway and dreamy.

She put the clock beside her bed. The gears whirred softly all night like a bird shifting on its perch in dreams.

She polished the spoons up, placing them on the window sill. At night they cupped the moonlight, filling the room with geometry as the wind changed.

Mabel was safe in the attic room. Always. With the sky above her and the warm rhythm of the house below.

At night she examined the knots in the beams that held up the roof – blacks, browns and oranges in tones like winter blankets. She kept the curtains opened wide so she could see the stars plotting their way through the sky; maybe to the very edges of the universe, maybe to heaven itself.

Sometimes in the middle of the night she woke to see a filigree of light on her bed, her hands, her hair strewn like silver thread. It was the stars covering her as she slept. She felt their warmth, their touch as if she was their very own child come to earth. She felt their strength – one star for every space in the sky. And she knew peace.

Ethan came along. He was handsome. Everybody said so. He was full of movement and stillness at the same time. His eyes were curious, reading her thoughts.

Mabel had avoided relationships. The awkwardness of dating didn’t sit well. She floundered, she scampered. She found she had nothing to say for herself.

But Ethan was different. He knew her before he knew her. He said so immediately. She scoffed at his romanticism but knew he was right.

Ethan lived in a huge house he had built himself.  It was award winning. He was going to be a famous architect for his cutting-edge, eco-friendly designs. Mabel liked the house – its energy flowed like the wind and rain – but she could not see the stars from the bedroom.

She moved in, nervous, prepared to practice discontent.

Ethan was remarkable. Her misgivings grew unrecognisable. The house embraced her, but at night the sounds were of well-built rooms in alignment with her breathing, not with her heart.

She laughed and smiled but she couldn’t sleep.

I am a silly child, she thought. Clutching at imaginings.

Mabel was awake at two in the morning, drinking hot milk at the kitchen table. Night after night.

She grew wan, listless. She jumped at shadows. She was wistful, diminished.

One day she found the attic room behind a cedar door carved with birds and trees. It was Ethan’s hobby room where he practised his wood carving and mixing of paints. There was an enormous skylight that leant up and out to the sky, connecting like a handshake.

Mabel put down blankets and slept for the first time in months. The stars were so close she could have grasped them if she wanted to.

In the morning Ethan was sad. You don’t like my house, he said. My bedroom that is temperature controlled and modulated for health-giving rest.

It’s not true, Mabel said. I just miss the stars.

That night she showed him the night sky gleaming down. Coins and diamonds and pearls; quavers writing their own music.

He understood straight away as she knew he would, bringing in a bed from the spare room, moving out the paints and tools.

They lay watching the magical lightshow that seemed to be for them alone.

Lustrous, steadfast light embellishing the room.

They slept, curled together, as the stars insistent and invariable fell like white cherry blossoms.

20 thoughts on “Stars Up There

  1. I live in Finland and as you know, during the summer months the sun practically never sets. An I miss the stars. Badly. Hence, your story spoke directly to my heart….


  2. Hi HELEN:
    I really appreciate you saying that. Writing this has certainly renewed my appreciation for the beauty of starlight.

    Hi KAREN:
    I want an attic room now. I really do. How cool would it be to sleep under the stars every night?

    Hi KATHE:
    I know. It would be gorgeous, wouldn’t it? You would feel as if you were a part of another, magical world.

    Thank you so much. Starlight is sweet. I seem to only associate it with happy feelings which has interested me.

    Hi RA:
    Awww. I am so glad. I have a long term friend who lives in Finland and I have to say it is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. I know what you mean about the stars. In Finland they are breathtaking. Glad I could take you back there if only for a moment…


  3. this has to be one of the MOST beautiful stories I have ever read. IN MY LIFE

    I loved this line: “The house embraced her, but at night the sounds were of well-built rooms in alignment with her breathing, not with her heart.”

    Wow Selma. Just wow!


  4. Hi MELEAH:
    I am blown away by your comment. That you had such a good reaction to my little ditty has made my day. Totally. Thank you from the bottom of my heart ♥


  5. A tale full of light and hope – lovely Selma. I love the way the spoons cup the moonlight 🙂 I once slept in an attic room with a slanting window (for a few months) when I lived in England as a teenager – I absolutely loved looking at the stars at night (when it wasn’t raining – haha) and used to imagine I was in a spaceship.


  6. Hi JINGLE:
    It would be nice to have an attic room. So glad you liked the story!

    My grandmother’s house in Ireland had attic rooms with those slanted ceilings. There was a big slanted window too so I can relate to the spaceship image. I was Astro Girl every night dancing with the stars!


  7. I can understand how she needed to feel safe in her attic only because you expressed it so beautifully. I could not have been as understanding as Ethan because I am a cave man! 🙂


  8. This reminded me of a elderly couple I knew in the village you might like the memory its called Manfred and Hannah at my blog “Village of the Damned”. I think Manfred and Mabel were kindred spirits!


  9. “She put the clock beside her bed. The gears whirred softly all night like a bird shifting on its perch in dreams.

    She polished the spoons up, placing them on the window sill. At night they cupped the moonlight, filling the room with geometry as the wind changed.”

    You’ve weaved magic with your words again.


  10. Hi STAFFORD:
    LOLZ. That’s OK. Cavemen have their merits too. They’re good for moving furniture 😆

    That sounds like a fantastic tale. I am on my way to visit you!

    It’s true. The thought of it keeps me going. I think despite all my protestations I am a romantic at heart!

    Aww, thank you. That is so kind of you.

    Hi SINGER:
    As you do. I take that as a great compliment coming from you!

    Hi WILLOW:
    It looked like that the other night. There seemed to be an unusual number of stars in the sky. It was gorgeous.

    Hi WENDY:
    There is a dreamy aspect to it, for sure. I really appreciate you saying that.

    Hi BRIAN:
    That’s what life is all about, right? Looks like I’m talking to a fellow romantic 😀


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