The Second-Hand Star

Kathleen McGookey

The star was dying, but I bought it anyway from the shop that sold used things. For days it flickered on my bookshelf. Every night when the sun set, it would groan. Some nights it sobbed. The sound was muffled, like the star was politely hiding its head under a pillow. I liked its light, which changed from yellow to pink on my bedroom walls, but its whimpers and hiccups entered my dreams. Each morning I woke groggy with sadness. I couldn’t push the star back into the sky because it had grown heavier as its light dimmed. My brother could have it if he could take it away. Together we rolled it out the window and into the flowerbed, where it landed near the rhododendrons. It made a soft sound like air rushing out the valve of a bicycle tire. For weeks, the star glimmered down there, silent. Winter came and my parents locked my window. I hardly thought of the star covered in snow. When I slept, I dreamed it had begun to whisper urgently, and I wanted to hear what it might say.

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