They never say “Go now, we made you as good as we were able, as made as you wanted to become.” No. They say, “We made you better than you mother’s womb could. Remember us, you were best here.” But it didn’t really matter.
The speech was cut off with a flash-bang, though it was imprinted in her memory logs. It gave her something to reference, to contextualize after the re-birth. It felt much the same as the first time around. Not painful, but uncomfortable. Like living without eyelids but still being able to blink. A thousand years of non-blinks condensed into a non-instant. Yeli was sure they would give that fraction of time a name someday, but it didn’t exist yet. Maybe Yeli would still be alive once they had. She hoped so, she liked things to have proper names.
And now she was a star, the same way she was a person. She liked names and sprinkles on birthday cake and improvised jazz music. But there was no music in space, no sound either. There was light, however, and she was made of it. She was made of endless, boundless, light and yet the edges she could not reach outnumbered those she could. If she had eyes anymore her majesty would have blinded her, even staring out from within it.
So how was she to do what stars have always done if she had no eyes to see and there was no sound in the deepness of space? It was irrelevant. She had a core of burning fire unencumbered by flesh or gravity. All the coverings were burned away- just like Posy’s coverings burned up with the candles on her eighth birthday cake.
Posy had always been bad at the difference between light and dark. Her pictures were always the wrong colors, but when she closed her eyes she wished like any other little girl. Firstly, because wishes have colors only in the same way emptions do and secondly, because a person’s heart can be any color they want to paint it with. Reality within a human body is not so bound as you might think.
I suppose if you could have gone in Posy’s wish it might have looked something like a unicorn, or maybe just a pony. The lights turned on and her family smiled. She was a rare sort of child who had taught her parents not to ask the sorts of questions that ruined things by going unanswered, and so they did not ask what she had wished for. She never had to share the shape of them, and so she never had to try to give them a shape and be ridiculed for its colors.
Yeli felt the shape of Posy’s wish though, and held it in her heart. She nurtured it with the fire of a star. And before Yeli knew it Posy was nine. She blew out her candles and her wish felt a little bit less like a pony but Yeli, even with her star knowledge and databases did not know quite what it was. But it burned within her and she watched as Posy gave the first piece of birthday cake to her little brother. She felt Posy’s joy when her father smiled and nodded at her.
Then Posy was sixteen and Yeli saw the shape of her wish, but it did not match up with the feel of it. It was Posy as a glowing, wondrous thing, but it felt small, abandoned, insufficient. Her colors were wrong, they were colors Yeli recognized, bleeding into blackness.
Yeli did not know what to do with this kind of a wish. It had been so long since, well. Suffice it to say that stars memories are long but imperfect. And then it was not just birthday candles. It was black skies and bathroom showers and pennies in fountains, and corner-store bracelets that fell off. There was no one stable shape, so they merged together and burned. They were a rolling ocean within the fire.
It made Yeli burn bright and throw off sparks. Posy married under one of them. Her daughter was born under another. In turn, they filled Posy’s wishes and Yeli grew big and red with hoy and sadness. Posy had always known was wishing was about of course, but now Yeli knew the pony-shaped dream was there to be given away.
Yeli missed the fragments that drifted away because they were not from her. But Posy’s heart was not made of fire and it did not need to be. She did not merely hold things, she made them. She built an art studio and did not tell the children they were wrong when the ponies they drew were orange. She remembered and still dreamed sometimes in colors she had never been able to recreate. Yeli felt like a rainbow, every spectrum that had a name and a few that she hoped Posy would figure out some day.
Posy’s parents died, both her father who had been proud of her politeness and her mother who had never judged or demanded after her wishes. Posy laid a rose with them. She did not wish for them back, as Yeli had been taught to expect. Instead, she wished for something that felt like hme, like comfort and acceptance. But it was not for herself. It was one pf those other-wishes that Yeli could only keep a part of before they floated off where they were sent to. But Yeli no longer felt empty for not having them.
And each year thereafter Yeli began to dread the candles. She was just as unready as Posy, however, for the flood of hurt and acceptance when Posy’s daughter said goodbye. Neither of them understood it, but Posy’s wishes for her still felt like a golden glow within Yeli. Posy’s wishes were unwavering.
Then Posy’s husband died. They had a better love than most. Yeli knew it had happened because parts of her centre had begun to cool. The wishes that had been bound up in him died. Yeli grew scared. She checked her databases and scoured her lessons and rages at the sentiment that teachers thought they had made her better. Posy had made her better.
And Posy was dying, a lifetime of wishes growing cold and disjointed in a way that was not merely because of the nature of their medium. Posy did not make the wish that Yeli hoped she would, even though it would not have been her place to grant it any more than the others. Her core grew cold and she felt the blackness of space. No, not blackness. Some other color. One they hadn’t come up with a name for yet.
The universe had no arms to hold her, so she swaddled herself in Posy’s wishes, all the memories that did not burn inside her anymore but that she could still feel she shape of. And then the vastness did not matter anymore. She opened her eyes, and somewhere a star was born.