A Time For Stargazing

“You’re being silly. Stop worrying.” Ari wrinkled her brow. Mako didn’t need to look at her to know that. 


They lay on the rooftop in a soft pile of snow, white and pure like the story tales describe it, staring up at the heavens above. The sky was clear, far beyond, and without a single speck of cloud to mar the children’s stargazing. It would be dark soon, and as the twilight set in around them, Ari huddled closer to Mako for warmth. Both were wrapped up in dozens of sheepskin layers, hands in mittens and heads in the warmest scarves Ari’s father had found in his stock of cloths and garments he used to sell at the Artiget market. He made the things himself.


“Mother was worried, Ari. She wasn’t worried for nothing. Do you really think the storms have blown over?” Mako wriggled in the snow, trying to make himself more comfortable.


“But you came, so now you’re stuck on my rooftop and we’re going to stargaze!  Let the weather bring all it likes tomorrow. Tonight, we are going to enjoy the stars!”


Mako had to admit it had been a good idea, but he didn’t like Eliza worrying. Eliza… When had he started to think of her by her first name? When the first storm hit? When Martha died? Or when Eliza’s husband and his father disappeared in the crack of the earth? He couldn’t remember. But she was Eliza now. Mummy no longer held a place inside Mako, no matter how young he looked. He felt different. He knew things were different now. 


“Mako, look! The first star!” Ari sat up suddenly as if to be closer to the sky and Mako had to pull her back down into the snow so that she’d not bar his view. He wanted to see it all too, after all. He’d come across the whole village to see this together with her.


It looks big, Mako thought, yet it’s so far away.


As if reading his mind, Ari let out a loud sigh and said: “I wonder how big it would be if we travelled all the way up to it and stood right before it.”


That got Mako laughing genuinely for the first time. “Silly, you can’t get to the stars. Can you walk on air?”


He threw a playful punch at her shoulder but she rolled around in the snow. Mako realised only too late how closely they were lying to the edge. As he reached out his arm to stop Ari his fingers only scratched the rough sheep fabric of her coat as she disappeared beyond the edge of the rooftop. 


No thud sounded as she landed and Mako prayed she had ended up on a mound of piled up snow that had fallen off the roof over the last few days, but as he leaned over the edge to look for her, his eyes straining against the darkness, he couldn’t make out any distinct shapes. No sounds emanated from the darkness, which worried him even more.


The star in the darkened sky shone with brightness yet it was too far away to cast any light on the ground below. Mako wished they had been more careful. This had all been a bad idea.


Then a muffled sound echoed from somewhere beneath. Straining to see, Mako felt he could make out a blob of hair sticking out of a woolen scarf that Ari had tied around her ears for warmth. The muffled sound grew louder and Mako heard Ari sneeze as she propelled herself out of the heap of snow and onto the harder ground beside. She stared up at Mako, not at all amused, as he rocked back in laughter at her clumsiness. 


But as Ari made a step towards the ladder they had used to get up onto the roof, a sound they had never heard before rocked through the still night air. Was it really so unfamiliar though? As Mako turned his head, he had the distinct odd feeling he knew just what was coming. 


As the moon rose and shone over the distant snowy lands beyond the mountains, Mako watched as a dark cloud grew and turned itself inside out, barreling in its rage towards the little village of Artiget. It wouldn’t change direction; it was set on it’s course of destruction.


The thundering, deafening roar of the storm cloud as it came crashing into the village brought Mako to his knees and he clung to the roof, afraid to let go as he felt the first waves reach him. Somewhere below, he heard a muffled cry and a thud, but now the storm was too strong for Mako to open his eyes and turn his head. As the raging killer whirled around, Eliza’s face was all that filled Mako’s mind. She floated on the backs of his eyelids, concerned, worried, her eyes teary and broken, waiting for him. All Mako could do was plead for forgiveness as the storm enveloped his village.


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Oooh now theres's tension and concern for our characters. As a reader my stomach turned at para 10 and I knew things were going to ramp up when Ari disappeared...It foreshadowed imminent danger but then I relaxed as her head bobbed up out of the snow...but then the storm started up and the screw that turns the tension began ratcheting up. This is good writing. We've started to care about our characters and their situation and we want Ari and Mako to survive. That is the inciting incident that will drive the story forward. Keep turning that screw. We want Ari to live happily ever after with Mako BUT not immediately. They have to overcome lots of hardship yet and so does Eliza. I really liked the internal monologue that wondered when he began thinking of his mother as Eliza. This symbolises a change in his maturity. I think he might be older than 10. What do you think?

Thank you, Suraya. I'll continue building tension and having some more of this action going on.

Great chapter!  Your description of the storm is very powerful.

"There sounded no thud" - this sentence sounded a little bit awkward and lost its impact for me. I'd try "no thud sounded"


Thank you! Yes, that sounds better!