There was a star caught in a tree.
Branches hung over a neighborhood sidewalk and the first breath of fall had convinced some of the topmost leaves to begin drying out. It was in this cluster of yellow foliage that a golden spark twinkled.
I stood below on the cracked sidewalk, head craned back. “Did you get distracted?”
The little glow shivered. “I’m lost,” it whimpered. “The sky called me home, but I can’t find it.”
“Sometimes,” I said, “you have to fall before you float.” I held out my hands, cupped palms upturned.
After a moment of thought, there sounded a faint snap and a crinkled leaf began to float down, the star perched atop. I snagged the whole ensemble by the leaf stem, careful not to pinch the star. Warmth touched my fingertips. “How’d you get stuck there?”
“I followed mom and dad home from the hospital.” Its voice sounded small, like a child. “They didn’t let me inside, though.”
I glanced at the house fronting the sidewalk. Two-car garage. A bike on its side in the front yard.
“Ah,” I said. “So you know what happened, then.”
“And you know where to go now?”
“Up! But I got stuck.” The star changed to an embarrassed shade of pink.
I stepped off the curb into the street. Twilight had fallen, casting houses and trees in black shadows. Above, the stars began to appear, winking on one at a time.
I pointed a finger upward. “That way.”
But the star had already launched itself from my hand. It spiraled up and up, leaving a trail of golden dust in its wake. I watched it go for a long time, until a new star appeared to take its place in the night sky. Then it winked off, gone forever.
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