The Eternal Sky
Joey Maxwell

The stars span out before me. They never seem to have an end, those stars. They just keep on going, clustering in great luminescent swirls and clouds like many-colored jewels thrown against black velvet. My favorite pastime is gazing at those stars, you see, but more specifically the moon. That great silvery celestial ball. It glows cold and pale, and reminds me of a graveyard, a graveyard of space. Indeed it is a least to me. A graveyard of thoughts, feelings, emotions. For every day that I have survived this war another small part of me dies, and when it does I bury it up there, in the moon. That way, at night when another mission or battle is over, I can stare up at the night sky and visit my little graveyard there. I suppose you could say its a form of escape, and for once something that does not involve the abuse of alcohol or some type of drug. I can just sit back, clear my mind...escape.

Sometimes when I gaze up into that endless dark sky, a part of me takes flight. I can almost picture it, great black leathery wings stretched out to embrace the sky. I can feel them sometimes...sinew and bone flowing and merging with the flesh and bone on my back, and when I stretch and pump them I can feel the dark, leathery sails fill with air and soon I am off the ground and into the heavens. It seems as if nothing more can touch or hurt me, that I can dart from cloud to cloud, plucking the very stars from the dark canvas sky. I would gather them upn in my hands, cup them there until they overflowed like water, and I would stuff them into my pockets. The stars to me represented every hope and every dream I have ever concieved. These things are rare and precious to me, because it is so hard to find them during these times, so hard to imagine that they can ever exhist in the turbulence we are forced up against on a day-to-day basis.

And, if I could, I would take a heart-shaped box, and I would gather all those stars harvested from the heavens, and I would put them in that box, and I would give them all to you. Everything that is good in me I would give to you, because to me you are the very sky. Deep blue like the blue of your eyes, and like the sky it seems I could never stop gazing at you, an obsession I could never kick, and one for once I would never want to.

I would return to my bunk on nights after the missions and battles of the day have ended, and I would throw myself upon my bed, every inch of my body aching and bone-tired. I would turn myself over and lay perfectly still as if asleep, but in reality I would be watching you. Watching how the soft glow from your laptop would illuminate your face, casting it with a glow not unlike that of the moon, and that twinkling in your eyes like the stars. I would watch you for the longest time, until you had ceased your nighttime duties or until sleep had overtaken my exhausted body. But even in sleep I could never escape you, for I would see you in my dreams, flying on great white wings like clouds. We would be flying together in the heavens, dancing amongst the stars, in a place where there is no time, no worry, no hatred, war or violence. Only eternity, and only us.

And so I will continue to watch you at night before the sleep takes me, and I will continue to watch the skies for your return from some far-off mission, nervously twisting the tip of my long braided hair between my fingertips. But never once would I admit that I had worried over you. We where soldiers. We had no time for things such as love, or so we would say. We where bound by many common goals, not least of which was to stay alive, and thusly keep your comrade alive. And its all one can do to retain one's humanity, and one's heart.

And so I sit here tonite, one night out of many nights, with the box of stars sitting in my lap. And I wait, I wait to give them to you in a time where we can be free. Free of war, hatred and fear. Free to fly the skies, only eternity, and only us.