I look over at my clock for the fifth time in the past hour. 2:07 a.m. I pull the sheets closer to my face, as if that alone will help me fall asleep. But, as I turn to check the clock for the sixth time, it is apparent that I won’t be sleeping anytime soon. I sigh as I get out of bed and pull on his sweatshirt. It doesn’t smell like him anymore, but if I close my eyes long enough, I can sometimes remember. Sensory recall, I think; yes, that’s what it’s called. I’d just call it love, but I guess a technical term can work, too. I head over to my window; it’s already half-open, so all I have to do is remove the screen. After setting it aside, I climb through the space linking my room to the outside world. The shingles on the rooftop are gritty against my bare feet, but I don’t mind. I just like the comfort of the nighttime summer air, with its coolness and distinct scent. I gingerly tiptoe to my favorite spot on the roof; it’s not too far from my window, but it’s the highest spot. And the highest spot is the best, because it has the best view of the sky, and all the stars that encompass it. I sit down and look up. All I see above me is a dark indigo blanket, dotted with hundreds of little shining specks. I trace them with my finger, searching for the brightest one. As I do this, I begin to talk to him.
“Hey, Ash. It’s really nice out tonight. But you probably knew that already. I miss you like crazy. School’s been rough…I’m still trying to find someone as smart as you to help me with my calculus homework. English is good, though. We have to write a paper on someone we admire. Don’t tell mom, but…I think I’m gonna write about you. There’s so much I could talk about; how you chased the monsters out of my room after dad left. How you cooked me pancakes on Sundays when mom got called in to work- and how you gave each one a chocolate chip smiley face. And then there’s the time we went sledding and I tried to use my sled like a snowboard - like you did - and fell. Remember that? I couldn’t stand up on my own, so you carried me home. You were so strong- and not just physically. You were there for me when dad left. If you hadn’t been there during that first year after he moved out… I don’t know what I would’ve done. Or what mom would’ve done, for that matter. You kept us all together, Ash. You were like the glue in our broken family. And I never did get to thank you for that. I wish I could thank you in person. You know I would if I could. There are a lot of things I would say and do and….I just miss you. So much…” I stop talking to wipe a tear from my eye. I try to stifle the sobs that are threatening to escape my mouth. I have to be strong, like Asher was. I gaze up at the sky again and continue.
“I really hope you can hear me. I’d like to think you can. Mom said that you would always see us, and hear us, and feel us…but I don’t know. I just need a sign. I need to know that you’ve heard every word I’ve said on this roof for the past six months. I need to know that you’ll hear every story I’ll share for years to come. I need to know you’re still here with me somehow.” I search the sky for an answer. Nothing. Tears stream down my face, burning like a liquid flame. He couldn’t hear me. He never has and he never will. He’ll never know how much I miss and need him.
The stars are blurry now, the tears in my eyes clouding my vision. But even with this distorted perspective, I see it. The flash- incredibly fast and incredibly bright, like a mini supernova. It was right there one second, and gone the next; just like Asher. It was a shooting star - something I hadn’t seen since he and I sat on the roof last summer. A grin spread across my face, tears still falling onto the black shingles.
“I love you, too. Goodnight, Ash.”