She couldn’t remember the last time she’d seen the stars. In the small town she grew up in, she had looked at them almost all the time. With a population of less then 300, it was one of the only things they could do to pass the time. But when was the last time she really looked, and saw them like she use to look at them as a kid, with awe and wonder. Ten years? Fifteen? Life just seemed to get in the way and there was never time to stop.
“Funny how life tends to be the thing you blame when you miss out on so much of it”, she thought to herself.
She thought about high school and how her only goal was to get out of that small town, get away from those small people. She dreamed of the big city life, where things were always happening. Where the world didn’t shut down at 9pm but was up all hours of the night. How she threw herself into making sure she got into whatever big named college she could. All those nights of studying and reading, and making sure she was the best.
College didn’t seem to alleviate that desire, instead it seemed to intensify it. Grinding every waking moment she could into her grades, skipping parties and late nights out just to get in one more study session before the next exam. She tried to remember any of those nights, but they all seemed one giant indistinct blur, one seeming no different than the other in her memories.
Graduation should have caused her to slow down, but now, she had caught the bug. The bug created in her a drive to accomplish more, to go farther, to prove to everyone that she was going to make it. To rid herself of that small town girl and become something of herself.
That’s exactly what happened. Doors opened up for her in New York, not big ones at first, but as the years progressed, she dove into her work, promotions following promotions. Until finally, she sat near the top, within striking distance of becoming the next CEO of the company. All her dreams within grasp.
Now, in this moment of reflection, none of that seemed to matter. Not with the stars so bright overhead at least. She took a deep breath and could feel a sharp pain coming from her ribcage. It made her cough violently. A wet, burbling noise came out as she did and the pain seemed to increase.
She kept staring at the stars as she tried to move her hand to her mouth to wipe away the sticky feeling that was forming there, but she found she couldn’t move her arm at all. Either of them.
That’s when she noticed the pressure pushing down on her chest. She tried to move, but found that she was unable even turn her head. Panic started to grab hold of her, as the twinkling of the stars continued in their ethereal ignorance.
“Ma’am, ma’am? You’re going to be alright. Help is on the way.” A voice spoke out from somewhere to her left but she couldn’t see from where. The only thing she could see were the stars. “Are you hurt anywhere?” the voice asked.
She tried to speak, but the words got caught in her throat, forcing her to cough a wet mass onto her cheek. “Don’t talk. I’m here, I’m not going anywhere.” His voice was soothing, almost peaceful. She could feel something dabbing against her face and then a hand rest on her forehead. “I can hear them, they aren’t too far away. You just hold tight, and everything is going to be alright.”
She heard the soft wail of sirens, and as they grew louder, she started to see the red flickering lights bouncing around, drowning out the stars in the sky. She felt tired and her breathing started to slow. She tried to focus on the stars, tried to hold onto the memory of laying in the field as a child looking up at them, trying to reason every choice she ever made that took them away from her.
She heard her heartbeat, loud and slow, grow quieter.
She felt her breathing become sluggish.
She watched as the stars grew dimmer.
She felt a tear roll down her face.