Cassie lay on the frozen ground, slick and sparkling as it was, contemplating what was out there. Thinking beyond the stars at the infinite possibilities her family constantly spoke to her about and wondering if she would ever get to experience them for herself.
The stars shown bright as dusk began to settle in. Cassie came out, dressed in her wooly-skin parka, every night that she could. Every time she would just stare as she did on this evening.
The planet Bruma is a cold and desolate place to grow up. They say that people who are born there grow up too fast, the climate stripping them of all warmth right as they leave the womb. Steel mining is the career to look forward to if you are a male, homemaking the top prospect for females, all of them working in service of simply keeping the gears turning without ever once pumping the gas a little for the thrill of it.
Cassie was still at a young enough age where she dared to dream of something different. She often looked around at all of the adults trudging to work and wondered if they also looked to the stars or if they were somehow too far gone to see past their live-to-work lives and let a little work-to-live in. Maybe that just wasn’t possible for them anymore. Bruma had been Cassie’s home for all twelve years of her short life thus far and even at such a young age she was having doubts as to if she would see beyond the ice and steel of her home as well.
At this moment, the sky was filled with anomalies. Grown-ups at least had some idea, based on oral tradition and science, what made the sky light up. But to Cassie it was pure wonder. It looked as though waves of deep purple and green were caressing gigantic clusters of stars like a hand scooping up a cascade of jewels. Each star undulating in brightness, while wafts of pink and yellow waves tied the sky together like some celestial ribbon.
“What makes the stars dance?” Cassie would often ask her mother. “Well,” her mother would hesitantly say, “Nobody quite knows. Some things don’t have a simple reason for existing because the universe is full of secrets.” At this point, Cassie’s eyes would often light up. Her mother continued, “These secrets are so full of different moving parts and so awe-inspiring that simply giving them a proper explanation would only mask the true beauty in discovering them for yourself.”
It was with her mother’s words reverberating inside her head like a rung bell that Cassie vowed to never let the growing pains of adulthood tear out her soul. She knew there had to be more to being alive and her imagination gave her boundless examples at a rate of as many a day as she could conjure up.
There were moments when Cassie could imagine herself swimming along those celestial ribbons into a pool of space. She imagined space to be frightening, but in the most exhilarating way. Cassie pictured herself floating along the void and letting the universe carry her away to distant planets where she would absorb local cultures and pass them on from species to species wherever she ended up. Others might believe this to be a fool’s venture but to Cassie it was all plausible. After all, to Cassie the alternative to dreaming big was to accept not dreaming at all.
Time marched on and eventually Cassie’s mom called her back in for bedtime, as she did every night when it started getting too late. Cassie got up, brushed the frost off her parka, and rushed back in to greet her mother.
Cassie’s future remained uncertain. Why would fate choose her to break the pattern Bruma had set before her generation and allow her the chance to flee toward the stars? Even if that moment never arrived and her reality never became quite as starling as her visions, she would always have those dreams. Dreams that only she could relinquish. Dreams that seemed forever tied to her like the celestial ribbon around the stars.