“I’m fifteen for a moment, caught in between ten and twenty,
And I’m just dreaming, counting the ways to where you are.”

We were fifteen, and summer was coming to an end. As I lay on my back in the cool, damp grass, my cold fingertips intertwined with her warm ones, I could feel the bite of autumn in the midnight air. The stars gleamed above like so many diamond facets, dazzling in the cold, enigmatic darkness. Not a word passed between us, and for the first time I had a glimpse of the melancholy truth: that we were already worlds away from one another in our minds, our distance and silence bridged only by the light touching of our hands.

The summer faded before our eyes that night, whispering away like leaves in the autumn wind, and an irrepressible remoteness could already be felt growing between the girl I was lying beside and I, as vast and overwhelming as the darkness that surrounded us. Prospects of a new year loomed before us, with me preparing to reenter my competitive, isolated world, and her preparing to say goodbye. Our friendship was the fragile, restless ghost that time and circumstance had made of it, and still I was leaving her again. But echoes of the past still reached me that night, in the form of a thousand forgotten shadows: memories that returned to me at the soft hesitance of her touch.

I was lost in a haze of nostalgia when it came suddenly, without warning, and was gone within an instant: a silver chip of starlight streaking across the sky. My eyes widened, drawn the to cold, ethereal beauty of it, and beside me I heard a soft intake of breath. For the briefest instant, her grip on my hand tightened. And then the falling star was gone again, lost to the impenetrable darkness. It may never have even occurred at all.

But in those elusive few seconds, in the tightening of her grip, her hushed exclamation of delight, the silver streak of radiance that sundered the midnight sky, I swear I knew all of the beauty and evanescence in the world. And in that most fleeting of moments, when I felt the pressure of her hand against mine, when I felt the exhilaration of the girl lying beside me, so beautiful, so irrepressible, so alive, I was only half-aware of the fact that my eyes were racing across the darkness—chasing starlight, chasing shadows, chasing dreams.