Meg crested the small hill and stopped. A last fragrant breezed wafted up from the ocean as the sun slipped down for the night, causing the sky and water to flame.
Her heart bounded and for a minute she felt like a little girl, full of the desires of youth and pull of the sea and distant lands, the deep unending yearning, the yearning to be someplace, anyplace, else.
She brought herself back to the present and found An watching that same sunset. She gave a knowing smile and walked over to her granddaughter.
“He’s out there someplace,” she said to the 24-year-old woman. An didn’t respond. “Yes, out there beyond the horizon.”
An gave a slight nod.
Meg drew closer to the young woman and watched the last flashes of light play across the water.
“I understand,” she said. “I argued with your grandfather about it long before your mother was born. He told me that life on a mile long freighter with only 20 souls aboard taking weeks between ports wasn’t as romantic as I thought. How could he know! It was and is romantic to me! He never had to wait on this barren shore!”
Meg could feel the warmth as An drew a little closer. She didn’t say anything, but she knew her granddaughter understood.
The afterglow of the evening slowly extinguished and the shy stars began to appear. Meg lifted her eyes from the inky place where the ocean had been and watched as the stars grew brighter. She made a wish as the first winked into existence, the same wish she made 60 years before as she waited for her Ned to return from his voyages.
More and more stars appeared and grew brighter, more present.
Some of the “stars” were moving. Soon more moving “stars” became visible. The sky was crawling with them as the sunlight, long since gone from their hilltop, still illuminated the life 500 miles above.
One star grew brighter, far brighter. Meg felt the tug again. Her mind raced out to space and fled the gravity of their planet along with the departing ship as it started its first step towards the real stars.
An gave a little cry. She had obviously seen it as well, felt the tug of the ship escaping their world.
Meg hugged her granddaughter. She understood the yearning, the craving, the need to go out there.
The departing ship blinked out of existence in real space and left Meg and An to stare at the sky. The last of the evening glow extinguished leaving only dark night. Dark night full of stars, some natural and some man made. A sky full of stars and full of the yearning, the desire that pulled from the tips of their hair all of the way to the toe nails, to be there, out there, any place, just not here.