A Story About Stars
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A boy lived with his grandpa and uncle in a small port next to the ocean. They lived in a small house on the coast, and had an old sail boat that they would go out on during the weekends. The boat was from the grandpa’s long gone days of exploring the sea, and the uncle worked several hard jobs for the house. The boy was like any other boy; he went to school, played outside, and read lots of books. The boy’s favorite things though, were his grandpa’s lessons on the stars.

The grandpa instilled his vast knowledge of constellations and the stories around them into his grandson, much to the uncle’s distaste. The uncle thought that the boy should learn more practical things, such as how to change a tire, or how to use tools. “Practical things,” he always would say, “A boy ought to know practical things.” The grandpa, on the other hand, thought that a boy should be a boy and learn to be adventurous, learn about things like sailing and ancient heroes. These conflicting ideals led to multiple disputes, but in the end the grandpa would always continue telling the boy of great adventures of heroes in the stars, and the uncle would make sure the boy could be sent to school.

School was dreadful, in the boy's mind. It was stuffy and hot, and the uniforms didn’t make it any easier. He often found himself aching for the cool salty air of a night at sea, but his uncle decreed that he must be educated. “A citizen must always be educated,” the uncle said, “if you're educated you can work, and if you can work you can live.” The boy understood this and took it in stride, but that did not change his utter disdain for school. Oh sure, the work was fine. He brought home decent grades, but he didn’t really try. The real menace of school were the other children.

The boy’s classmates did not like him. He was strange, and that scared them. The boy sat alone at lunches and recesses drawing charts of the night sky in his notebook, and reading about constellations and ancient heroes, such as Hercules. This weirded out the other children, making them shun him and spread nasty rumors behind his back.

“I heard he was an alien. That’s why he is so obsessed with all of that star stuff,”

“He probably wears a mask! Underneath I bet he looks like E.T.!”

The boy's peers called him various names and insults, but rarely did things get physical. However, one day during recess he told some particularly aggressive bullies that the only friend he wanted or needed was his grandpa. They sneered at him, calling him various rude names. He absorbed all of this in silence, until they finally crossed a line.

"You and your grandpa are freaks! My dad says all of that stars crap is stupid. Your grandpa is a waste of air!" Something in the boy snapped. He rushed forward and shoved the offending bully as hard as he could. The bully fell, but the boy did not stop. He started wrestling with the bully - biting, kicking, and punching. One of the other bullies called the teacher over. She rushed to them, blowing her whistle.

"Timothy! Jacob! Stop fighting this instant!" The boys untangled somewhat reluctantly and glared at each other. The boy was fuming. No one, no one, made fun of his grandpa. He would rather get a detention than let these bullies talk bad of his family. The bully started telling the teacher that the boy started it, but she was not having any of it.

"Both of you were fighting, so you'll both be punished. I am going to notify the principal, and call your parents. Both of you will stay in my room for a half-hour after school." The boy wanted to argue with the teacher, make her understand that the bully had made fun of his grandpa. He held his tongue, however, and thought that the situation was bad enough.

The boy had to call his uncle on the school phone, and he was not happy to be picking up the boy a half-hour later. The detention passed with much glaring from both the boy and the bully. When the boy was released from detention, he walked slowly to his uncle's truck. Once inside his uncle really let him have it.

"WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING?!" yelled the boy's uncle. He sped down the highway, a good 15 mph above the speed limit. "You've never done this! What is your problem?!" The boy had never seen his uncle this angry.

"They made fun of grandpa," said the boy, looking down, ashamed. The boy's uncle's expression softened slightly. He slowed the car down to the speed limit, and the rest of the ride home continued in silence.

The boy truly loved his grandpa, and they would stay up far too late, gazing at the stars through the telescope that the grandpa bought for his grandson. The boy had wanted to use his grandpa’s old telescope for so long, but he was never allowed to. The grandpa always kept it locked in a box under his bed. The boy was told, “Once you are older, I will teach you everything there is to know about my telescope,” and he was satisfied. The boy’s uncle did not approve of the boy staying up late on school days, but on Fridays and weekends he would stay up with them. They would sit on the deck of their boat, telling stories and pointing at constellations. Sometimes, when the boy squinted really hard at the constellations, he thought he could almost see them moving. One night he told his grandpa such, and his grandpa responded,

“Do you? Orion was seen as Osiris in Egypt, and Sirius as Isis. Why, the people who built Stonehenge may have done so in order to worship their gods in the stars! Who knows for sure, maybe they were right? Maybe the heavens are alive with these mythical beasts.” At this, the uncle grunted.

“Don’t go puttin’ crazy ideas like that into his head pops. He knows that stars are just a bunch of fire up in space, doncha’ kid?” The boy did indeed know what stars actually were, but he wondered,

“Why can’t it be both grandpa?” The grandpa smiled at this, however didn’t respond. The uncle decided it was time for bed, and they all went below decks.

That night, the boy started awake. He heard someone moving quietly on the deck of the boat. The boy's curiosity was piqued, and he snuck out of his small room. The floorboards of the cabin were cold, and creaked as the boy stepped on them. He did his best to be sneaky, and climbed up the stairs to the deck of the boat. There he saw his grandpa, with his old telescope out. He heard his grandpa whispering, as though he was talking to someone. The deck of the boat let out a very loud creak, right as the boy stepped onto it. The boy's grandpa was startled, and turned around to see his grandson sneaking up on him.

"Hello Timothy, why are you up at this time?" The grandpa smiled at the boy, and sat down on the deck. He beckoned the boy over.

"I just heard someone on the deck grandpa," said the boy, "Why were you talking to yourself?" The boy's grandpa smiled.

"Don't you worry about that, I'll tell you when your a little older. Now, you should be going back to bed." The boy reluctantly shuffled back into the cabin. The grandpa sighed as the boy went, wondering if he should have just told the boy what he was really doing.

Life continued in this manner for a number of years, until one fateful day. The boy was returning to school after a summer break, and was not enjoying it. Kids were picking on him as usual, but the worst thing was that in the middle of lunch he was called into the principal’s office. The other kids whispered and pointed at him as he left the lunch room. He walked slowly to the principal’s office, wondering what he had done. He reached the door and knocked.

“Come in,” was the response. The boy walked in and sat down on the chair in front of the principal’s desk. His room was rather imposing in the boy’s opinion. It was rather dark and the desk was very large. The boy had to sit up very straight to see the surface of the desk clearly. He looked at the principal himself, and there was a grim look on his face. This unsettled the boy, and he began to think that this meeting may not be a very pleasant one.

“Timothy,” the principal began, “I am so sorry to say this to you, but your uncle is coming to pick you up. Your grandfather is incredibly sick and in the hospital.” The principal kept talking but the boy could not listen if he wanted. His mind was a mess. His grandpa, his only and best friend? The principal must have something wrong. His uncle would explain everything. The boy came out of his thoughts in time to hear the principal say that the secretary had his book bag in the lobby for him. The boy nodded slowly, got out of the chair, looked back at the principal, and left the room.

The boy went to the lobby, got his bag, and saw his uncle’s old, beat up truck outside. He walked towards it but each step felt like he was lifting a thousand pounds. His mind felt cottony and muddled, and he was praying for this to all be a nightmare. He entered his uncle’s truck and stared straight ahead. The boy did not speak, and neither did his uncle. They sped on down the highway to the hospital. They were led by a woman in light blue scrubs to his grandpa’s room. To the boy it felt cold and mean, with it’s sharp white walls and bright fluorescent lighting. He forced himself to look at the bed where his grandfather lay.
“G-g-grandp-,” the boy stuttered, beginning to feel fiery tears well up in his eyes, “a-are you-u there?” His grandpa’s eyes fluttered for a moment, then opened. He saw his grandson standing beside his bed and his son just behind.

“Timmy, Charles I-,” His speech was wheezy and strained, “I want you to know how much I love you two. Don’t miss me too much, will you?” The uncle began to cry and he got very choked up.

“Dad, don’t talk like that, they’ll fix you. I’ll give them everything I have, and they’ll fix you.” The boy’s grandpa looked at his son and a single tear rolled down his cheek. All three of them knew it was a lie through and through, but no one wanted to say it out loud. The boy hugged his grandfather as hard as he could. His grandfather tried to hug him back, but it was weak and strained. The uncle held his father’s hand, gently, and kissed him on the forehead. The old man sighed, and his eyes fluttered, then closed. A machine that was beeping let out a solid tone, and the nurse and doctor ushered the boy and his uncle out.

Over the next several weeks, the boy did not speak to anyone. He would be silent with his uncle, and would not let a word pass his lips among his classmates. He missed his grandpa. Many nights the boy would stay up late, looking to the sky, hoping that he could somehow see his grandpa among the stars. The first time he spoke since his grandpa’s passing was when he asked his uncle for the old telescope. The uncle was surprised, but allowed it. "After all," he thought, "I have no purpose for it and maybe it will help him deal with his grief." He got the key from his father’s old room and handed it to the boy.

“Here. I’ll let you use it tonight, but don’t be up too late, okay?” The boy nodded and went to retrieve the telescope. He pulled at the large case underneath his grandpa’s old bed. It was very dusty and old, made of leather and studded to the framework of the case with brass. The boy strained to carry it to his room. Once he had shut the door, he unlocked the case. Inside were several pieces that together would make a long brass telescope. The pieces of the scope were covered in engravings of constellations, as was the mahogany tripod. The boy closed the case back up and waited until night.

Around 10 p.m. when the sun had fully set and the inky night took over, the boy grabbed the telescope and climbed out of his window. There was an overhang beneath it so he set up the telescope right there. It was a very chilly night, and it was a new moon and the boy thought that it was a perfect night for stargazing. As the boy was putting the telescope onto the stand, he thought he saw a flash of light in the sky. He paid it little mind; however, and aligned his scope to look at Orion. He peered through and was slightly disappointed. The telescope did not even zoom in that far. For all of its complexity and size, the boy thought he would see much closer. In fact, the boy thought, it almost looked like Orion was further away! All other stars around Orion were gone as well. The boy found this peculiar, and decided to align his view with Ursa Major. The same effect happened again! Maybe grandpa never used this telescope because it was faulty, thought the boy.

The boy kept looking at Ursa Major when suddenly the telescope began to whir. The boy was startled and looked for the source of the noise. He found it in a small box on the underside of the scope. He did not know how he missed it when putting the scope together. He inspected the box and on it was a button engraved with what looked like a tree with a snake for a trunk. He pressed it.

Nothing happened. The whirring continued and nothing shifted. The boy was disappointed, and figured that whatever the button was meant to do had probably broken. He began to yearn for his grandpa to help him. He missed getting help setting up his own telescope, or being guided on how to find stars or comets. The boy’s eyes began to well up with tears. He just wanted someone to talk to. His head leaned forward and rested on the eyepiece of the telescope.

“Hello? Are you there Seth? Why are you-” The boy jumped at the sudden voice, taking his eye off of the eyepiece. Where had the voice come from? He looked around him for a source to the voice. Maybe he had imagined it? He never called his grandpa by his first name though, so why would he imagine a voice doing that? He kept looking for another couple of minutes and could not find a source. He put it out of his mind and went back to the telescope. He placed his eye on the eyepiece and…

“Why aren’t you responding to me? What is wrong?” The boy’s eyes went wide. Ursa Major was moving. The stars were overlaid by an image of a massive grizzly bear. Was it… talking to him?

“You are not Seth! Who are you?” The boy continued to look at this strange phenomenon. “Answer me child. Where is Seth?”

“I-I… he’s not here.” The bear looked irritated.

“How did you gain possession of that telescope?” the bear growled, “Are you a thief?!” The boy shrinked at the bear's hostility.

“I didn’t steal anything! This telescope is my grandpa Seth’s, or… was my grandpa Seth’s.” The boy’s eyes started tearing up again but he fought back.

“What do you mean by ‘was’ child?”

“My grandpa, he… he d-died several weeks ago. My uncle let me have his old telescope.” If a bear’s face could show recognition, then this bear surely would have.

“Ah, so you are the one he spoke of so fondly. Boy, I mourn your grandfather. I ask you, please realign your view to Orion and he will explain more to you. I grow tired.” With these words, the overlaid image of a grizzly bear faded, and Ursa Major stopped moving. The boy was very confused and did not understand what was happening. He also felt excitement, however. This was not a normal telescope, he discerned. He took the advice of the bear, and realigned his view to Orion.
The whirring of the telescope stopped. The boy looked at Orion for several minutes and nothing happened. Just when the boy was about to lose hope, the box began to whir again. The boy pressed the snake-tree button. “Hello? Are you Orion?” the boy asked.

“That is what I am called,” replied the figure of a warrior overlaying the stars. The warrior stretched and sat down cross legged. “Where is the one called Seth?”

“He passed away, several weeks ago. He was my grandpa.”

“I am very sorry to hear that. Are you the new keeper of this telescope?”

“I suppose,” said the boy with a sad sigh, “I miss my grandpa though.” The warrior nodded.

“Your grandfather was a good man. He found this telescope in a place where it could never see the sky. He learned how to use it, and he talked to us. Kept us company. He spoke lots about you.” The boy was intrigued by this.

“He did? What did he say about me?”

“He told us of how proud he was of you. He told us all of the stories you two shared. He very, truly loved you, little one.” The warrior gave a small smile. The boy felt a strange mix of sadness and joy when he heard this. A darker question began to form in his mind, however.

“Why didn’t he tell my uncle and I about this telescope? Why would he keep something like this secret?” The warrior looked thoughtful for a moment.

“I suppose he wanted to make sure you could hear us. He did attempt to introduce your uncle to the telescope when he was younger, but your uncle could not hear us. Your father could.” At this, the boy started. He had not known much about his father, since he had died shortly after the boy was born.

“So did grandpa think I would hear you?”

“I do believe he did.” The warrior smiled at the boy.

“How often can I talk to all of you?” asked the boy. He was tired of being lonely. He wanted to know everything he could about this telescope and his dad.

"You can speak to whichever of us you can see. When day returns, the connection will be severed, but until then we can speak.” The boy, for the first time in a long while, smiled.

The boy stayed up rather late that night, talking to the warrior, Orion, about his grandpa, and his dad. Throughout the boy’s years of life, he continued to use the telescope. He spoke with the stars every night he could. He dedicated his life to astronomy, to learn even more. He continued to live with his uncle, and began supporting them both, so that his uncle could live more worry free.

The boy, who was now a man, continued his life until he had his own sons and daughters to pass on his secrets too. He never forgot his loving grandpa, though, and missed him every day.

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