Silence had taken over, Aster wasn’t sure how much time had passed, all she knew was that she didn’t care. For once she didn’t feel like she had to put on a face, pretend like she was something else. For once she could be herself; whatever that meant. All in all, she wasn’t sure who she wanted to be, what she was supposed to do, but in this lull, it was okay to be a ‘work in progress’.
“ Hey, erm, I was wondering… Ellie broke the silent haze, how did it all end with Trig? I mean if it ended. Not that it’s my place to ask since I was the one to interrupt your-
-Don’t worry it’s fine. It’s over, Aster responds calmly, slowly getting up from the floor, in order to sit on the window frame.
-I guess your intervention did put a stop to a few things… After the church, my parents tried to get the wedding back on; god it sounds so weird, I was supposed to be someone’s wife… Anyhow, I guess one public humiliation was enough for Mr Carson since he called off the wedding for good. As much as he tried to act like a ‘man’ I think Trig was scared shitless too. Understandably. We’re too young to get married.
-Now would be a good time for a cigarette.
-Wait… You smoke? Really?
-OH NO! No, I just thought if we were in a movie, now would be one of those scenes in which the two characters end up confessing their secrets to one another while sharing a cigarette.
-I like how your mind works Ellie Chu, Aster mutters, lost in thoughts. You know, she continues, he wasn’t all bad.
-Trig. Once you get to know him he isn’t as bad as he plays out. He’s a pretty insecure guy actually.
Ellie isn’t sure what to think of this. After all, he was the guy who thought all of the town had a crush on him; even the shy, Asian, gay kid (not that he would know that last part since she was very much ‘in the closet’ throughout the whole of high school). On top of that he was at the top of high school’s food chain.
-Wait are you still talking about THE Trig Carson? She joked, rolling her eyes exaggeratedly.
Aster did not laugh. She did not even look at her, instead she stayed focused on the street lights turning on outside, like thousands of fireflies dancing around the pavements of Squahamish. Suddenly the silence became tense, almost suffocating. It was a part of the flower girl that the tiny brunette had never seen before. A mix of pain, sorrow, helplessness and guilt showing on her face all at once. Ellie wished she could help. Hug her, show her support, do something, whatever she could to relieve the other girl from some of that pain, some of that sorrow, some of that helplessness and some of that guilt. But the truth was, she knew, deep down, that there was nothing she could do except be here for the girl.
-When I was alone with him we had fun; not that kind of fun don’t worry, she chuckled at her own joke, but her heart wasn’t in it. When we were just the two of us there were no more expectations, no need to impress anyone. You see, Trig was never dumb. I know it seemed like it because at school he’d act as the likable dumb rich kid to please the crowds. At home it was the opposite, he tried to act smart, bring home the best grades possible, impress his father and be the perfect son for his mother. I know that. I guess that’s why we got along. We didn’t like each other the way we were supposed to, but I know that if I had gone along with the whole wedding thing he would’ve been good; because he understood the pressure. Sometimes it’d get to him and he broke, in times like this he’d come to me and I would do likewise the other way around. That’s how things were up until Paul, well until you is more like it. ”
Aster turns around to face her and gets down from the window frame. She walks around the room like it’s unfamiliar, not safe, but then she smiles and all the dread disappears like it never was. Ellie wants to tell her that she doesn’t have to hide anything with her, but she’s still too stunned from what the other said seconds earlier. Now the flower girl acts like it’s nothing, so much so that the tiny brunette doubts it even happened. Aster grabs her laptop and sits herself on her king size bed.
“ You know what we should do?
-No? Ellie asks, slightly scared of what the answer could be, not quite sure what to expect anymore
-We should watch a movie, it’d be fun! Actually scrap that, there’s a show I love and I think you could like it; to be honest I don’t know how anyone could not love it. It’s a fucking masterpiece.”
And with that, although not fully, the lightness returns. Ellie sits herself down on the bed, next to Aster, and both girls happily immerse themselves in the story.
After four episodes, both of the girls have to stop for a snack break. Outside the last of daylight has dissipated, replaced by the thick and dark, star packed, night sky. No one has come home yet, which means that they probably won’t be there for another three to four hours at least. Enough time to finish the first season, Aster thinks. And for some reason she’s particularly excited to show Ellie episode nine (not that it has anything to do with the gay couple finally getting together…).
“ I can’t believe she did that! Dolls and her were flirting and she just goes and sleeps with Doc! I mean not that I don’t ship it, they’d be cute together.
The flower girl laughs, pleased that the tiny girl enjoyed the first four episodes.
-Ah… Wynonna’s whole dilemma! ”
More laughter accompanies this. They playfully banter while preparing some popcorn, and sandwiches. Aster makes some lemonade as Ellie presses her for spoilers with her best puppy eyes (which she refuses to give into). Once they’re done they retreat back to Aster’s room and move on to the next episode.
Aster slowly and carefully turns off her laptop, sets it aside and puts the blanket over Ellie. Now all she needs to do is set up a mattress for herself and get some sleep. She’s about to get up when she feels a soft grip on her wrist, followed by a quiet groan.
“ No… stay… please…
Aster lies back down on her bed, soft fingers still holding her wrist. She looks up, at the ceiling in a daze. Her gaze meets the constellations depicted on her ceiling. When she was four she had asked her parents if they could “ take off the ceiling ” (her exact words), her mum tried to explain nicely that they couldn’t do that, but tiny Aster would have none of that. That’s when her father came in the room, told her to calm down, to wait for him and be good to her mum. He told her he’d be back in an hour top with a surprise.
“ Remember Aster, only nice little girls get presents. ”
She nodded silently, now ready to compromise and behave. And her father did not lie, exactly an hour after, he came back with a big shopping bag in one hand, and a bucket of navy blue paint in the other. In the bag were paintbrushes, a paint roller, some glow in the dark paint, some glue and some glow in the dark plastic stars of various sizes. He then proceeded to paint the ceiling in navy blue, adding a painted Milky Way and a big round painted moon. After that he followed Aster’s instructions, gluing the plastic stars into her favourite constellations.
Fifteen years later, it was still her favourite part of the room.
“ You awake? questioned a tiny - evidently still sleepy
-Yes. Very much so.
-Are you okay?”
Truth be it, she wasn’t sure what the answer to that question was. Not that it was an excruciatingly hard one. Lately, she’d be lying if she said things didn’t feel ‘off’, yet she wasn’t unhappy. She was something else.
-I don't know , she said truthfully.
Ellie seemed to get the message, not pushing for more.
-Ellie , Aster broke the silence again, shifting on her side, do you still mean it?
She felt the rush of adrenaline in her veins and the banging of her heart in her temple.
-Mean what? asked the tiny brunette, shifting as well, in order to face the flower girl.
- What you said last year, she breathed out, shifting closer.
-Y-yes , responded a slightly taken aback Ellie.
In that moment, whatever ping-pong match they were playing, she won.
She was about to close the distance between their lips, she was gonna taste the bliss she’d had on the tip of her tongue a year ago. It was happening, and it was happening now.
Their lips had barely grazed when Aster’s mum opened the door, but it was enough.