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Under the Stars

Jean Valjean

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:kaukau: Inspired by real life, my imaginary friends in the IDES, and music from The Lion King.
Under the Stars
Out in Cameroon, John was entering his sixth year of service, building schools and homes for families. When he received the phone call, he remained silent, said "yes" several times, and then hung up. "Oh my God!" he gasped, and he let himself crouch down, with his elbows on his knees and one hand in his dusty face. He continued working, but didn't say anything to anyone.
"Are you right?" asked Kate, sensing that not all was well with John. Whenever he was in a strained mood, everyone seemed to be able to know. How they knew, he wasn't quite sure, because he was never able to tell when others were not doing fine, but he was different.
If this had been any sort of bad news, he would have lied and said he was fine, but he couldn't say that. "I can't talk about it now."
They finished their day's work, spend time with their African friends, but John resigned early and started packing with some help of his friend Roger. "Still not talking?" said Roger. "John, your poker face is atrocious."
John sat down upon one of his bags. There was very little energy in his movements, and he continued to avoid eye contact. He was withdrawn, not in the same place as Roger. When he talked, he sounded as if he was about to cry. "I've been off in Cameroon for six years...Things have felt so right, but my life is changing so much. I've been so lucky to have you as a friend all this time, and Kate. Have so much on my mind right now, and I don't know what it all means."
Roger knelt down next to John. "Do you know where to start?"
"My father's dying, Roger, and he's only fifty," said John. "I haven't seen him in six years."
He began to cry, and Kate walked in.
"The last conversation I had with him was an argument," continued John. "He told me I should go to college, but I thought that my calling was here. But I miss home. Most of all, I miss Mom. When my parents got divorced, I almost never got to see her. I only saw her once a month, and I never spent much time with her during my life except for when I was a little kid, about nine years old. I haven't had my childhood in a long, long time, and I always figured it would come back, because I would eventually find it and I could just have that one special moment with everyone in the family and all my old friends and that thing I had when I was young would be with me again, you know? Now I can never go back, because in order to have that I need my entire family there, and now my father's dying and I'm never going to have that relationship that I wanted, like I thought I was planning on returning to America in two or four years, a changed man, because it made sense. I thought he would see who I became, see the types of things I dedicated my life to, and he would be proud of me and love me for it, and my mother would love me because she always loves me, and I could have everything I always wanted, but - but..."
John returned to crying and tears streamed down his cheeks. Kate sat next to him and held his hand. "John, I'm so sorry," she said. Then she embraced him. Roger joined in and turned it into a group hug centered around John.
"I want to tell you so many stories about him," said John.
"I know you can do that," said Roger. "You're the best person I know when it comes to telling stories. I'll listen to every word."
They finished packing, and after a couple of days they talked with everyone there who knew them and explained why they had to leave. Since they did not have a car, they walked the whole way to Yaoundé.
The hike lasted for a couple days, since they each had their own bags to carry. The second night, as they settled in an open field of grass, started a fire, and unfolded their sleeping bags, John looked up at the stars and thought about Heaven. "Grandpa, I know that I talk to you sometimes. I guess Dad's going to be there with you soon."
Kate and Roger sat to his right, poking the fire with sticks. They talked somewhat, but most of all, they listened to John tell stories about his father.
"And the thing is, I guess I'm just upset that he never got to know me," he said, answered by the distant, ever-present crackle of the fire. "He was never good enough for me when Mom wasn't there to support him, so maybe I thought that my relationship could never be so deep because it stopped feeling the way that it should have felt. I've spent the better part of my life hoping that everything would be perfect again and that I could have the family I had when I was a kid, or at least, that's what I always thought. I always thought it was actually running away, but now it seems the exact opposite. When I turned twenty, I suffered depression because I was growing, because I was shocked at how far away my childhood was, and I was in despair because my next birthday would never be eight or nine, and that the one moment that always stuck out to me, the one that my whole life seems to be centered around, could last fore..."
He looked and saw Kate and Roger sleeping, the orange firelight illuminating their calm, peaceful faces. No longer aware, but still there for him. Maybe that one moment that was his entire life was behind him. Maybe his entire life was now in this moment.
"God, make this last."
Edited by Jean Valjean
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  • 2 months later...

Of style I will say little. Interestingly enough, the looseness of your prose, the run-on sentences that are as difficult for the reader to grasp as a handful of water, remind me of a story I read recently, written by a twelve-year-old girl. Take that as you will, but this girl is someone I admire very much, someone I have every faith in to improve and excel, someone I know can do better because I have seen her do it; so it was intended as a compliment of sorts. Stylistically, this is neither your best nor your worst.The story itself is a short tale of dreams shattered by the tragedy of reality. Even in the midst of a real place in the world, that idealistic hope lingers, until it is harshly disillusioned by crushing truth. That disillusionment is the first step toward achieving our dreams.And in the sweet simplicity of the final scene, you capture perfectly one of life's greatest contentments. There is no feeling I have ever known more satisfying, more elating, more divinely precious than the moment spent sitting with friends while gathering beauty of night slays the last rays of deceptive daylight. Then, in the darkness, the true world is revealed, in all its glory.Unfortunately it never lasts . . . but even when night passes and the sun is reborn, we can easily endure it--nay, embrace it--for we know it will set again.Really, this is less a review than a thank-you for the fine moment you immortalized in prose here.


Sincerely, Nuile: Lunatic Wordsmith :smilemirunu:

When I know I can't live without a pen and paper, when I know writing is as necessary to me as breathing . . .


I know I am ready to start my voyage.

A Musing Author . . . Want to read my books?

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