A Stroll Through the Sky
Selene and I had been best friends since we were born, literally, as we liked to say. Born on the same day and on the same street, our mothers felt it reasonable to arrange play dates between us. Together we grew up and never apart. Selene lived in a massive, Victorian style house, full of turret like rooms and twisting back staircases. As kids we loved to explore it, running through the hallways pretending to be adventurers in a strange new land.
One night, maybe seven years into our friendship, we were poking around in the attic. Behind a musty, rolled up carpet we discovered a door, previously hidden from us. As we stood before the door, little Selene turned to me and said very solemnly, “Behind this door is a vast, unexplored, world. As the greatest adventurers of all time it is our duty to-” I giggled at that point, and her composure almost broke, but she managed to continue in an even tone. “Sterling, we must explore this new land. We are the only ones qualified to do so. Are you ready?”
I nodded as seriously as I could, but my attempt at a serious frown dissolved into laughter, only made funnier by trying to stop it. In seconds we were both rolling on the floor giggling, and it took us a few moments to regain composure and carry on with our ‘mission.’
The two of us again stood before the door and nodded to each other seriously. At a gesture from Selene, I dramatically pulled the door open, unused hinges protesting gently. A set of spiral stairs sat behind the door, reaching up into impenetrable darkness. Selene, always the leader, marched through the door and began the ascent, and I followed close behind. We climbed for what felt like hours, Selene marching on without complaint, me just trying not to fall too far behind. At the top of the stairs was another door. Selene opened it without hesitation, but we both froze at what lay beyond.
It was blue, eternal blue stretching as far as the eye could see. A blue so dark it was nearly black, the blue of the midnight sky. Floating among the blue were tiny little orbs of light, reminding me of the faeries painted in my story books. More than just a color, but not quite physical. It felt like nothing of this world, it felt like another world entirely.
Transfixed, I stepped past Selene into the blue. Although the bottom of the blue didn’t look like a floor, I walked on it as easily as though it were a carpet. I turned back to Selene in delight. “Come on!” I beckoned, and she stepped out onto the blue carefully, hesitantly. Seeing that it held, we walked out on it together, touching the little orbs and musing at what this place could possibly be. We left after maybe an hour, and agreed not to tell our parents incase they forbade us from ever going there again. Neither of us knew what the place was, but we didn’t think too much on it. We continued to sneak up there as often as we could, to take a stroll through what we’d decided to call the Sky. As time passed our visits there were less frequent, and we eventually abandoned the Sky altogether. Different things began to take priority in our lives, such as schoolwork and boys and cars. Magic wasn’t real to us anymore, and the magic of our Sky was forgotten.
Eleven years later…
Selene and I sat in the attic of her house, leaning against the wall.
“You know, I’ll only be a two hour drive away,” she reminded me. I nodded, glancing down at my hands.
“Yeah. I know.”
We sat in silence for a few minutes more.
“Sterling?” she asked.
I glanced over at her. She wasn’t looking at me, rather at an unassuming door nestled into the corner of the wall opposite us.
“Do you remember the Sky?” Selene asked softly.
It took me a moment to realize which sky she meant. With the realization came a half-forgotten memory of an impossibly blue world. “What even was that place?” I asked.
Selene turned to face me, her face mock serious. “One that we never finished exploring,” she replied, the barest hint of a smile showing through her composure. Selene jumped to her feet, full of that infectious vivacity. She stretched out a hand to me, an invitation.
“Selene, I really don’t feel like…” I began, but stopped when I saw the expression on her face. Her eyes shone like stars, her excitement bubbling over the doubt and reluctance she had been showing recently. I sighed and took her hand, pushing myself off the ground with my other hand. We approached the door with our fingers intertwined and I reached to open it. The spiral staircase stood there just as it had before, curling up and up, although not quite so far up as our memories had painted it. Selene smiled at me and started up the stairs, practically bouncing from step to step. I followed less enthusiastically, but I’d never been immune to her excitement. As we climbed, the thoughts of her impending departure slid further back into my mind, unnoticed.
When we reached the top of the staircase we both paused and looked at each other. Selene still had that entrancing smile on her face.
“Would you like to do the honors?” she asked, gesturing to the door. Something inside me, a wall built up over the years, softened and broke, and I smiled back. I reached for the unremarkable wooden door, pushing it open gently. We stepped inside slowly, and I felt all the hope and excitement that I’d gathered fall away.
A room, wholly unremarkable save for the fact that it was entirely blue. Blue carpet, blue ceiling, blue walls… but not the mystical, magical place of our childhood. I dared a glance at Selene and saw my own feeling of disappointment mirrored on her face. She looked at me and I caught the glimmer of tears welling in her eyes, the hope built within them faded away. I looked away. I couldn’t bear it, couldn’t bear the weight of reality settling around my neck. I could not simply look down, to see the reality of the carpet beneath my feet. This was a place of joy and magic and youth, and I would not let the world take it from me.
I took Selene’s hand, and she looked at me, eyes questioning. I placed a smile on my face, urged a wondering light into my eyes. “It’s just like when we were little,” I said, and I put every scrap of awe I could muster into my tone. I let my imagination run wild, nudging and encouraging Selene to see it the way we had when we were children, to reclaim some of that unadulterated joy. As I pointed out stars and patterns, I saw the light return to Selene’s eyes little by little. She joined me in my make-believe at last, and we played together like children, the outside world of papers and deadlines forgotten.
After playing for hours, we ended up laying on the floor together. The unwaveringly blue surroundings imbued me with a sense of calm that had been hard to find recently. I settled my hands on my stomach, staring contentedly upwards. I glanced over to see Selene lying with her arms stretched up behind her head, a look of unspoiled contentment on her face. She looked over to me and smiled with a brilliance that illuminated the room, and I smiled back before turning back to our magical Sky. We lay there together all night, enjoying the end of our childhood in silent companionship.