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Loneliness

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Aster wasn't there to say goodbye when Ellie left.

She was sitting by Ellie's railway booth.

Aster reached her hand out as the train thundered past. The force of the wind pushed her fingers away, making her pull it away.

Aster sat by the booth until long after sunset. It wasn't until she was shivering, and numb from the cold that she stood and left.

*

Aster's room was… dark. Lonely.

She reached for her phone, squinting when it's harsh light cut through the room. Aster wasn't sure why. A habit. From when she would spend all night texting fake Paul. Ellie.

Aster closed her phone.

The darkness returned.

*

Paul tilted his head.

"Why are you here?" he asked.

Aster shrugged. "Why are you?"

Paul sat next to her, leaning against the railway booth's wall.

"Well I was visiting Ellie's dad." he grinned at her and raised the plastic bag in his hand, "Dumplings."

Aster nodded.

"So why are you here?" Paul asked.

Aster shook her head, "I don't know Paul. I just ended up here."

*

Aster feet lead her to the railway booth again the next day.

It was raining, and she was soaked, but the cold didn't bother Aster.

Aster sat next to the booth again. She didn't go inside. It didn't feel right to go in without Ellie. Like an invader.

 

By the time Aster stood up, the rain had stopped a long time ago, but there were still water droplets running down her cheeks.

*

Ellie Chu returned at the end of that year.

Aster came to the party Paul threw for her. The smell of alcohol and sweat made her sick. 

Aster only saw Ellie once during the party. Ellie smiled. Aster turned and hurried away.

She left the party after that. A feeling wormed its way into her stomach. Aster wasn't sure what the feeling was, but it ate away at her all the same.

*

The knock at the door made Aster jump.

Paul was waiting behind the door. He waved.

"Hey. The party ended. Ellie, Mr.Chu and I were going to watch some movies. Do you want to come?"

Aster surprised herself by stepping through the doorway and closing the door behind her.

"Sure." Aster said.

*

Ellie didn't mention the party when she greeted Aster and Paul.

Aster sat on the floor. She jumped when Ellie sat next to her.

"What do you want to watch first?" asked Paul. "Never mind, don't answer, we're watching this."

Ellie laughed when Paul pulled out a CD of The Sound of Music. Aster felt her heart flutter.

*

Aster woke to the sound of Ellie's voice.

She opened her eyes. Mr Chu was gone from his spot on his chair. Paul and Ellie were chatting. The T.V was off.

"Oh sorry, did we wake you?" Paul said.

Aster blinked. "No, it's okay."

Aster could feel Ellie's eyes on her. She turned to look at Ellie. Their gazes met and Aster felt that feeling eating away at her again.

Paul said something, but Aster couldn't seem to focus.

"Sorry?" Aster said.

"I'm going to the bathroom." Paul said again.

He disappeared through the doorway.

"Aster," Ellie said, "How have you been? It's been a while."

"Yeah." said Aster.

And then Aster leaned forward and pressed her lips Ellie's. Ellie's eyes widened in surprise, before fluttering close again. Aster felt Ellie's hands around her. Aster clung to Ellie. Scared to let go, and find herself alone.

Aster pulled away, gasping for breath.

"Wow." said Ellie, "That was even better than last time."

Ellie smiled at Aster and, this time, Aster smiled back.