Updated: Dec 11, 2021
by Sarah Ju
She was born into it. From birth, her name spelled out the lilting tone of the nature that surrounded her: Celeste. Celeste from celestial. Her parents had named her that way, long before they embarked on their journey and never returned. Nevertheless, Celeste’s life was like a fairytale. Every evening, after wistfully gazing out the window for a couple hours, after the sun set and the moon took its place, Celeste would tiptoe outside and gaze up at the never-ending night sky. Eyes filled with wonder, she would smile at the stars that greeted her back, welcoming and familiar. If you looked close enough, you could see the reflection of the stars twinkling in her wide and curious eyes. Celestial.
She lived by herself in a small cottage close to the woods. She didn’t need much to survive. She had memorized the entire mountain she resided next to and had hiked so often upon countless uncharted courses that her dragging feet had engraved permanent dirt paths along those lines. Each night, Celeste found solace in the moonlight that seemed to drape across her shoulders, like a warm blanket amidst the coolness of the dark. She felt the most comfort in the night. It gave her a sense of security. In the harsh glare of the daytime, anyone could see her, ridicule her. In darkness, she was alone, dancing with the earth around her.
Celeste once again escaped to the woods, the place that knew her best. In the grove, the animals seemed to embrace her presence, nearly magical as she stared each one in the eyes with the special attention that only she was capable of giving. The white-tailed deer, the chipmunks, the songbirds: they all gravitated towards her as her small smile illuminated the darkness of the night, complementing the light of the moon. The butterflies fluttered around her ears as she giggled and relished in their companionship. They hovered near her and darted away, then returned when she didn’t follow.
“Do you want me to follow you?” Celeste questioned. With a wordless reply, the butterflies pushed past the leaves of the trees into a large expanse of land that Celeste had never seen before. Her breath hitched in her throat as she immediately stopped inhaling. Everything there seemed to sparkle; there was nothing that didn’t catch her eye. Her love for the world deepened as she attempted to drink in everything around her. The space was painted with the most dazzling gold she had ever seen in the natural world. The warbling melody of the stream accompanied with the harmony of the animals was orchestral music to her ears. She spun and spun in the magical wilderness. Then, all the music stopped.
Suddenly, an icy breeze made its way through the area, making Celeste’s hair stand on end. The butterflies darted away as quickly as they had led her there, and the golden illumination of the tree trunks rapidly faded to nothing, as if it was blown away by the wind. A large gust pushed Celeste off of her feet, and she managed to regain her balance by grasping a nearby bush. The music, the stream, the rest of the animals, vanished, leaving Celeste alone. The wind stopped. All was quiet again.
Then, she saw two glowing orbs peering at her in the pitch-black darkness. Bright red.
They stepped nearer as she took several steps back. The figure revealed itself to be some sort of a monster, oozing black ink as it rose to its full height, nearly three times that of Celeste’s. It grinned at her, revealing a set of vicious pearly-white teeth and pondered its options. The drip, drip, drip, of the creature’s dark ink plopping down onto the forest floor made itself a rhythm in Celeste’s mind as she waited for the verdict. Drip, drip, drip. Tick, tock, tick. Celeste looked upwards into the red circles.
“Are you going to hurt me?” she asked.
“Don’t worry about that,” the figure replied. Celeste was swept off her feet as a gale started to form in the little plot of land. This time, she had nothing to hold onto as her feet left the ground and her body was left to the fate of nature, the nature that she had once held so beloved. The figure plucked her from the air as though she were a fruit on a tree and squinted at her viciously. Celeste wondered what was so particular about that day that she encountered her fate. What had made them cross paths? The surroundings she was so familiar with, her second home, her life, how was it that it was in this place that she met her unknown end? The monster tossed her up into the sky, and in between her flying strands of hair, she made out the stars looking down on her. Now, the stars rang a tune of mocking laughter in her ears. Celestial.