The Girl Who Looked Up
Nobody ever thinks to look up. Itís the weight of all that empty space hanging right above your head, full of great balls of white hot rock that only the magic of science, physics, is keeping from falling down on top of your skull. Hell, I wouldnít look up if I werenít me, if it werenít my job to do things like that. Other people, they just donít.
Iím not much of a writer, so youíll have to bear with me. I mean, Iím learning and all; thatís the second part of what I do. Thereís not much point in having a load of ideas if you canít write about them afterwards. For now though, Iím just trying to tell a story, and itís one that really happened, so I suppose I wonít have to elaborate. Or do I mean exacerbate? Exaggerate. Embroider. I will dispense with lace and trappings and try and tell this story as simply as I can.
I probably should start by telling you something about who I am, but I donít really want to. This story isnít about me anyway. Itís about a girl who liked looking up. And about a boy who looked up and found her. But Iím skipping ahead of myself. It was the bright side of the moon Ė Satelite 15 Ė and she had just moved there. She was from a diurnal planet and unused to the constant daylight of a world that turned so one side was always facing the sun. What was an evening ball felt quite odd when it looked like lunchtime outside. Her parents kept everyone indoors so they wouldnít have to look up and see the sun at itís zenith when reason told them it should be the moon in the sky.
Sami stood by the blacked out windows. I think I remember she was bored. She hadnít had much to do all day except fuss and be fussed over. Embassy folks fuss a lot, but you get some beautiful dresses in return. Sami had a big blue dress. Itís my favourite colour. And it was long, with big full skirts, and a low neckline that she had fought with the dressmaker over. It was a beautiful dress, just right for an embassy ball when the night outside should have made her look as if she had been cut out of the night sky to grace the room. Instead she served small chocolates wrapped in gold foil to the important people. Diplomats from off-world and their husbands and wives and a few older children. Iíve never really liked those chocolates: too nutty. But all this is just scene setting really. I suppose a proper storyteller would tell you all about the ballroom, and describe all the people in it, all those diplomats and rich merchants and pirates and ambassadors, and all the young men she should have fallen in love with on that night. But Iím not a proper storyteller, so all I will tell you is that there was a massive chandelier hanging from the ceiling unsupported that made all the gilt in the room glitter like it was made of real gold, and Samiís beautiful dress look the blacker against it. Sami wondered what held it up, and why.
He said five things to her. The second thing was ďNobody ever thinks to look up at these doís, do they? No-one except you and me.Ē He told me later that heíd seen her staring at the ceiling when the room was full of pretty things that everyone else was staring at. He wanted to know who this person was who was different. Which makes it quite odd that the first thing he said to her was ďThatís quite a chandelier, isnít it?Ē she agreed with him but there wasnít really anything else she could have said. I think he realised that, which is why he made his second comment, by way of explanation. She said to him, by way of reply, ďItís my job to look up. I am to be a philosopher. If I donít look up then I can never see the sky, I can never dream of things that could be, I can never see infinity.Ē And he smiled because he understood a little bit more about the woman he was going to fall in love with. He said, ďWhen I look up, I see your eyes, and the lights in your eyes that must be the ideas forming from infinity. They are beautiful.Ē And she wasnít quite sure if he meant her eyes, or the ideas he fancied he saw, but she smiled anyway, because either way was a compliment. He of course meant the ideas, which is more credit to her. But that was the third thing that he said to her.
I suppose he must have asked her if she wanted to dance, but I donít remember who made the first move, so I wonít count that as one of the five things he said to her. But the fact remains that soon they were dancing: Sami, the ambassadorís daughter and philosopher in training who had ideas like stars in her eyes, and Darin-Li, the diplomatís son with a pocket full of good intentions and a heart ready to be lost to a pair of eyes that looked the right way. Yes, I remember, that was the fourth thing he told her Ė his name.
Memory tends to grow fuzzy with age, so forgive me if I forget a little about what happened that night. I donít remember what time he had to leave her, or whether she had to leave first to go to bed. It might have been her first grown-up ball. It might not. When I asked Darin about it, he had forgotten too, but he never had the eye for detail that I did. But he remembered the fifth thing he said. I had almost forgotten, so he put his hand under my chin and lifted my head up and said, ďI asked you if I could kiss you.Ē And I said, ďYes. Yes that was the fifth thing.Ē