My grandmother says that the one good thing about humanity trashing the planet to the point that we encapsulated our cities under domes is that now you can see the stars at night. Apparently when she was a child, you could see the moon and maybe two or three stars from a city the size of ours. Of course, between the chemical pollution, the light pollution, and the dome itself, we should really be seeing even less rather than the vast array we’re treated to every night. And who’s to say which is better, really? At least my grandmother’s two or three stars were real and not projections.
Azealia knows the stars are fake, but she loves them anyway. To her, I think their lack of authenticity actually makes them more beautiful, because now they speak of the human need to create beauty and thus provide her with evidence that our species really isn’t as bad as it seems.
One of the things I love about Azealia is her faith in the basic goodness of humans. And it’s that faith that allows her to love me even though I don’t share it.
It was the stars that brought us together the night we met. I was walking across Founders Park after getting off my shift at the pizza joint that was my first place of employment when I came across a dusky-skinned girl with a bright blue pixie cut and golden eyes who was doing the strangest thing. She had an easel set up and was painting a skyscape, a realistic portrayal of the multitude of astral features decorating the dome.
I longed to ask why she was doing this in the middle of the night in the center of a park when the projection was public domain and could have been covering her ceiling at home, but actually asking seemed intrusive. Even stopping to watch her seemed like I was overstepping, but I couldn’t help it. I told my feet to walk on, but they refused to obey me.
After a bit, she looked over and me, smiled, and answered the question I hadn’t asked. “The stars aren’t meant to be seen from your living room.”
“Yet you’re painting them,” I pointed out before I could think through it enough to convince myself not to.
Azealia nodded serenely. She does most things serenely, her soul as infused with calm as mine is permeated with tension. “Yes, but the painting isn’t supposed to be a real sky. It’s supposed to be my perception of the sky.”
My eyebrows pulled together as I thought about that.
“Look closer.” She stepped to the side in invitation and I accepted by drawing near.
Up close, the painting was less realistic than I’d first taken it to be. It was clearly based on the actual sky, but the stars were in different places and the swirling nebulas were less subtle. I’d never studied art, but this seemed like art.
“It’s wonderful,” I told her. Then I walked on, like a complete fool. I beat myself up over that all the following week. I should have stayed and talked more, tried to figure out if maybe she was into girls, although I wanted to be friends even if she wasn’t. I should have asked her to do something with me, or asked her if her artwork was for sale anywhere, or at least gotten her name.
When she walked into the pizzeria two weeks after we first met, she was on a date with a gorgeous woman with ebony skin and a laugh that reminded me of Christmas. So she was clearly interested in women, at least some of the time. And she remembered me, which I told myself must have meant something even though she seemed clearly in love with her companion.
Azealia became a regular. So did the woman with the ebony skin, but that was alright because Clarice was amazing too. She was tall and toned, but also incredibly smart and outrageously funny. She was lead singer in a band I’d never heard of before but soon came to adore. They were called Under the Starlight, a name Azealia had come up with.
It was Clarice who asked me out first. For a second, I was confused. I’d never seen either woman with anyone else, so it hadn’t occurred to me that they were polyamorous. But they were. I never had been before, but as I thought about Clarice’s invitation to a traveling musical, I realized I was already in love with both of them.
Years passed. I finished college and started managing an art gallery with Azealia. Clarice’s band grew popular enough to support touring, but she never drifted away from us. Azealia does all Under the Starlight’s artwork and I run their online merchandise store. We’re happy, the three of us. Sometimes it makes me nervous, being so content, as though it’s tempting the universe to assault us.
I look down at the shirt I’m packaging to ship. It features the poster for Under the Starlight’s Embrace Your Destiny tour. A young woman in white stands on a platform with her arms open to the sky. Her build and her long dark hair are mine, symbolizing how all three of us are a part of our story, how we’re each other’s destinies.
Destiny isn’t a concept I ever thought I’d believe in. Yet, somehow, when I go home and fall into the duel embraces of my beloveds, I do.
The above image is "Kissed by Starlight" by Lisa Falzon. Ms Falzon's works can be found at https://lisa-falzon.com/.
The image was offered as a prompt on my writing prompt project Wording Wednesday, more information about which may be found at https://wordingwednesday.blogspot.com/