“Do you know why I draw the stars on the cuffs of my jeans?”
Zoe asked the question rather abruptly one day while doing homework in her room with Evan. He was sitting at her desk with a neat set up and she had a semi-neat set up sprawled over her bed, her legs criss crossed.
“The stars in the cuffs of my jeans, you said it’s one of the things you always noticed about me before we ever even talked. You said it’s one of the things that made you love me before I loved you.”
Evan nodded, “Yeah, I did. What a-a-about it?”
Zoe gave him an obvious look. “Well, do you wanna know why or not?”
The boy sitting across the room didn’t speak, just cautiously nodded his head, waiting for the answer.
Zoe took a deep breath before speaking. “When we were little, Connor and I were really close. And he would always tell me I looked really pretty when I wore anything with stars on it. When we started to grow up more, we started to learn constellations and stuff and when I started playing guitar in second grade he nicknamed me Superstar. He even helped me stick those glow in the dark stars up on my ceiling, but they don’t really glow anymore.”
Zoe pointed up to the ceiling with a sad smile before continuing, “When he started getting angrier he started to tell me that stars were stupid, and that I was stupid, and eventually that if I kept asking him to go look at the stars he’d punch me. So, I stopped asking. And, I stopped looking.”
She let a single tear slip out of her eye before sniffling. “I guess, I guess I just started drawing stars after he killed himself because it reminds me of the good Connor. The one with the stars in his eyes. Not the one who threatened to kill me with his eyes so black I believed that he actually would. I started drawing them because I don’t want to hate my dead brother. And that’s really hard. But every time I look the stars on my jeans, I feel the joy he brought me when we were little. And I hear him saying, ‘Zo, let’s go look at the stars! It’s a clear sky!’ And I remember the Connor that was good, the Connor that wasn’t drowning.”