I had met Stardust Gibraltar first, at my babysitter’s house under a table draped in ivory lace cloth. He was handsome, and brawny- just like the Brawny paper towel guy only he never wore that lumberjack shirt. Actually, he never wore a shirt at all- only stonewashed jeans. Stardust was a lifeguard and saved lives every day. The afternoon we met I had laid down underneath that table, bright sunlight shone onto my face through the lace dotting my cheeks with warmth. I’m here for you kid he said as he laid down next to me and curled my seven year old body into his strong arms where I fell in love and fell asleep with a new deep and luscious comfort. I spent the next four years drawing out extensive maps of the lands Stardust took me to and pictures of the people and animals we met. I showed them to the girls at school who looked at me like I was fucking nuts.
On the eve of 6th grade I sat against the wall on the bottom bunk and shared hot chocolate with Denise, Gazelle and Stardust Gibraltar under a fort of draped pastel blankets tucked snugly into the top bunk . We had gathered together specifically for a big let down. It was the finally time to say goodbye. I had been prepared for the goodbye throughout August, dreading it and then it was there on that September evening. We were backed into a corner, caught by some badge and pin wearing bully Smessica at Girl Scout Camp that summer. Smessica told everyone at camp about us – as she put it, “The dork’s invisible friends.” For the full two weeks of camp none of the other girls would talk to me, other than Brandi who had to because we were like family, but even she kept it short. She stuck to lending me bug spray or begrudgingly helping me with writing out addresses on the letters to our parents.
Under the bunk that night we sipped the chocolate, frothy marshmallow slime stuck to the tops of our lips and created bright white mustaches, which under normal circumstances would have made us giggle. Letters of reflection were to be read from myself to each of them, remembrances of our years together frolicking through magical woods and worlds and problems and sometimes solutions together.
Stardust had introduced me to Gazelle and Denise. Gazelle was a long and lean dancer with a soft face who was half ostrich on her lower half and half human up top. She only wore bright red so we could pick her out of a crowd, but we all knew that wasn’t necessary. She had a very very likable personality, a bit of a people pleaser, but ultimately very reliable. Denice was not quite as reliable. She had an undeniably beauty and was a no-nonsense kind of girl, one on the brink of womanhood. She lived in the shadows of High Time City where she sold her body to men that looked at her initially like a dog might look at his kibble. It never took long for the men to become entrenched in her intoxicating allure. A few moments with her transformed them into little boys, begging for just one more hour of her company. She was also bisexual and “fine with it”. Denise never felt the need to explain herself like I constantly felt the need to. I confided in her about my fears that Dad was going to have a heart attack from the stress of Russell’s lying or from my “Space Cadet” antics or from Mom’s nerves or from his chain smoking. Denise was a great listener and certainly had been through far worse than I had.
Stardust knew the most, he knew it all. He had been there with me since that day we met. Denise and Gazelle left in tears after our goodbyes, the letters clenched in their hands. Stardust stayed behind with me as the moon rose into the center of the sky. He held his lips to my forehead, my skin became soaked with his warm tears that streamed down like rivers of salty water. The two of us came to a secret agreement that I would keep him through middle school, maybe beyond, but he really would have to remain a secret
Copyright 2021 by LC Wood