STAR DAUGHTER IS COMING OUT FROM HARPERTEEN IN AUGUST

Star Daughter by Shveta Thakrar

Sheetal got up and moved to the window. She stared at the great dark sky that arced over everything like an infinite ocean, taking in the uncountable coruscating stars, and wished as hard as she could. Her palms pressed against the glass, she wished and wished, fiery desires that left her lips as soft song—a call to the sidereal melody.

She swam in the night’s glittering waves, feeling them flow in and out of her with each breath, nourishing her. It felt so good to sing for herself, with no one listening, no one judging.

As she watched, beyond the window, the faces of the stars came into focus. Most were from outside the royal court, the commoners, if such a thing could be said of stars, but the court was present, too. Sheetal picked out Nani, Nana, Charumati, Padmini, Kaushal, and even Rati.

She pored over their features, all glorious, all serene. She took in the way they flared against the heavens, both person and ball of flame.

If she reached out, she could almost touch them …

Their song came to her gradually, silence ripening into something more. She could be among them, could ascend to her rightful place in the constellation. In the sky. In the cosmos, where everything was born of the play of shine and shadow, fire and frost.

Here, there was no pain, no disappointment. No estranged boyfriends, no dying dads. No self-doubt.

“Join us.”

In that moment of dream and dance, Sheetal wanted nothing more.

She lifted a hand to the heavens. Someone, she wasn’t sure who, reached out in return, and once their fingers met, Sheetal stepped through a door dark as night. Her mortal eyes fluttered shut, and when she opened them again, she was the sky.

No, that was wrong. She wore the sky, had wrapped it about her like shadow-stained silk. She danced with it, within it, spinning softly, so softly, a sway here, a slow turn there. She whirled and floated, twirled and dipped, changed places with partners, and changed again.

She breathed her family, sang their story. Their flesh was her flesh, their skin her skin.

Here, there was no question of being liked, only of belonging.

The light, the song, laced itself through her, knitting her to the nakshatra. With luminescent eyes, she saw the spirits of the stars passing over the sky, blazing across millennia. She saw the beginning and the end, and she swirled past everything in between.

Stars were born; stars died. A sun blinked out; a black hole loomed. Below, in the mortal realm, a queen conquered; a fool felled a king. An artist painted; an assassin slew. How fast, how brief, these mortal lives. A twinkle of a star’s lifespan.

Yet they smoldered with a fire all their own, these humans. They raged with passion and creativity, nurtured by the dust of the stars, the glistening marrow of silver bones.

Humans needed stars, Sheetal thought as she watched her mother in orbit, and stars needed humans. They were all part of the great drama, the slow and continuous spiral of creation and destruction, and they all played their roles.

Shveta Thakrar, a part-time nagini, draws on her heritage, her experience growing up with two cultures, and her love of myth to spin stories about spider silk and shadows, magic and marauders, and courageous girls illuminated by dancing rainbow flames. Learn more at shvetathakrar.com.

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