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Sky without the moon

A short story about letting go.

By Paige HermionePublished about a year ago 12 min read
Sky without the moon
Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash

My heart gave a startled jump when I heard the quiet thump outside my door.

6:21 am said the clock. My vision still blurred; head still groggy from the moment my mind awoke to the moment I dragged myself out of the bed, sheets still holding its stale scent from months of being uncleaned. Unchanged.

The morning was always silent. Always asleep. For three hours the morning was dead, and it was never until 7:30 did I start to hear the cars passing by or the joggers panting down the street, in sync with their steps.

I heard the silent whirring of a machine fading away with distance and contemplated leaving the dining table. The rich scent of coffee and the warmth of the steam rising from the cup was like a chain for me to break if I wanted to leave. Or rather a heavy blanket I couldn’t emerge from, holding me down. Comforting and warm.

I let out a long sigh, releasing my grip on the cup, and I tore myself away from that chain, my steps uneven as I made my way towards the front door. A gust of cold air brushed through me like a ghost, and a chill ran down my spine, goosebumps erupting over every exposed part of my skin that wasn’t covered with a robe.

And yet that chill was not nearly as cold as the one that came after, but this one was not from the wind, and rather from the words inked into the sticker of the package, laying on my front porch.

To: My star

From: Your moon

~ ~ ~

“I will never understand why you hate pet names,” Aiden whined, his head resting on Star’s thighs, flicking a piece of popcorn in the air, and catching it between his teeth.

Star rolled her eyes, “Don’t hate me for it, it’s nothing personal. It’s just that every time I hear some weird pet name like, ‘boo bear’ or ‘baby bug’ on the street or on TV I want to puke everything I ate that day.”

Aiden scrunched his nose, pinning her with a squinted stare, “Because those names are disgusting. And I have literally never heard them uttered from anyone’s lips in my life.”

Star snorted, “Variations of it then.”

Aiden shot her a pleading expression, “We’ve been officially together for three months, and you still refuse any verbal affection,” he said, holding a hand to his heart as if he’d been pierced there. It was beginning to get increasingly difficult to keep the smile hiding behind Star’s lips from emerging. “I promise I won’t call you anything stupid.”

To keep from smiling, she brought her focus back to the movie they were both supposed to be watching as she spoke, “You absolutely cannot call me anything.” The tone of her voice suggesting it was final. There was no swaying her mind.

She heard his long sigh as gave a defeated look, eyes closing. “Okay, okay fine. But what about me? I want to be called something,” he said, frowning like a child who’d been refused.

“Isn’t Aiden enough?” she asked.

Aiden’s expression didn’t shift, but he did open his eyes to look at her, and she felt the hairs on the back of her neck standing when she fell back into his storm-grey eyes. “I didn’t spend a year waiting for you to give me a chance only to be called ‘Aiden’.”

The corner of her mouth tugged upwards, “Your… name?”

“Yep,” he said, as if it was the most normal request to ask for, “Everyone calls me Aiden. I am everyone’s Aiden. But I want you to own a part of me.”

Star couldn’t stop her fingers from reaching for his face, gently stroking his skin, only dimly lit from the TV’s light, “But you’re already mine.”

“And yet you call me by the name everyone else calls me,” he said, still arguing his case.

She sighed, “I am not calling you ‘baby’ or whatever name you think-”

“No, no, it has to be something uncommon and personal to us. And since I can’t call you anything, I want my name to match yours.”

Star thought for a moment, “I don’t know…”

His face lit up as a thought seemed to streak his mind, “Do you think Aiden means Moon?”

“Moon? You want me to call you moon?”

He nodded, “Yeah, like moon and stars.”

She was ready to laugh. Ready to refuse, and tell him all the ways that name wouldn’t work. That it was cliché, and that the moon and the stars as a duo didn’t make sense. But as her lips parted, something in the eager way he looked at her, the pride in his eyes for coming up with something, it wiped away any desire to shut it down. Being right wasn’t worth risking his smile.

Instead, she uttered a single word, “Okay.”

His eyes widened along with his smile, “Okay?”

She laughed, shaking her head, already beginning to regret her decision. “Okay Aiden. You can be the moon to my stars.” She reached into her pocket, grabbing her phone.

“What are you doing?” he asked.

“Checking if your name means moon.” The phone was snatched from her fingertips before she could type the first letter into google, “Hey!”

“No,” he said, keeping her phone from her reach, “I don’t want to know what my name means. For as long as I’m with you, my name means moon.”

~ ~ ~

A large lump was wedged halfway down my throat, and I had forgotten how to breathe. Something took over my body as I beheld the package, still on the front porch. A million thoughts racing through my head at once.

But the loudest one… Why?

Why? Why? Why? Why?

My fingers trembled as I found the will the reach for the package. The cardboard box nearly slipping from my grip as I kicked the door shut and raced to the dining table, setting it down as quickly as I had lifted it. As if touching it burned me.

My breath was shaky as I flicked my wrists repeatedly, trying to calm myself down. Before I could do anything else, I turned my body away from the package, reaching for my phone and dialling a number. Any number. Anyone.

“Star?” said a tired voice on the other line.

“Mom…” I breathed, a broken whisper, my voice barely audible, even to my own ears.

There was a rustling on the other side, “What happened?”

“It’s Aiden…” I stopped breathing as the thought finally settled in my head, that I had not uttered his name aloud in half a year. 6 months. 6 months since we had ended things. Since he had left me.

There was silence on the other line for a moment, and the sound of my mother getting out of bed, “Did he come to visit you?”

“No-” I had said the word, but it sounded as if I couldn’t finish it, my own voice stopping mid-sentence, “No… he sent me a package. It says… To my star, from your moon.” My mother said nothing, but I could feel the sympathy, the concern in her presence on my phone. “Mom, I don’t know what to do.”

“Have you opened the package?”

“No…” I said, shaking my head.

“Open it.”

I didn’t know how I had managed to reach over, to touch the package. But it happened. And in less than a second my mother was on speaker, and I was ripping it apart, letting the shredded pieces of cardboard fall to the ground.

For a few minutes the only sound present was the ripping, the opening. The desperation. And then… silence. My heartbeat slowed with my panting, and my eyes rested on the layers of clothes, shirts, sweaters, a necklace. His clothes. His sweaters and shirts. All the things I had returned to him the month after we were over.

It had taken me a month of pain, of denial, to realise he was never going to come back for the sweaters. And I would never be allowed to wear them again. So, I had returned it… but why had he given it back?

~ ~ ~

Star shivered, her teeth chattering, and despite her efforts to hide it, of course Aiden had noticed.

“Let me give you my sweater, Star.”

“No, no. I don’t want to be that girl…”

He scoffed, smiling in disbelief at her stubbornness, “So you would prefer to be the type of girl who freezes to death because she doesn’t want to be cliché?”

“I don’t want you to freeze to death,” she said. It was a lame excuse. And he knew it. He stopped her, mid stride, as the world continued to pass them by. The city crowd parting as they stood in the middle of the footpath. He looked down on her, his face a mere few inches from hers.

“You and I both know that’s not it. You don’t want to accept my sweater, because you don’t want to accept my affection,” he said. Not a question. A statement.


He held a finger to her lips, laughing, as he shook his head, “I have never been made to fight so hard for a girl, only so she would give me the chance to love her.”


Star’s smile faded. Whatever jokes they had been exchanging, whatever fun they had, it vanished completely, and her chest was overflowing with the heavy feeling she couldn’t ever seem to be rid of. The panic, the anxiety. “Aiden… I can’t-”

He seemed stunned with his own words when he realised what he had said, but regardless, he didn’t seem to regret it. “I’m not asking you to love me, Star,” he interrupted. “I’m asking you to let me give you my sweater. I want to care for you, I want to….” he couldn’t seem to say it this time, couldn’t seem to let the word leave his mouth. “I want to… I want you to have my sweater.”

She looked at the sweater, and back at him. Knowing what it meant to him. There was a sort of sadness in his eyes, and she knew that if she refused that sweater, she likely wouldn’t get another offer from him again. And that would be that.

She said nothing. Nothing as she unfolded her arms. Nothing as she reached for the sweater.

But she said everything, as she slipped it on.

~ ~ ~

It had meant everything to him. I could remember the day I accepted that first piece of clothing. After that, I had made a collection within a month. I wanted all his clothes, I wanted all his warmth, his scent.

I wanted all his love.

And after we ended, I had kept it all. Held on to it. Before realising it had lost all meaning. And then I had returned it.

And now… now it was back. The world was playing a trick on me, I knew it. It wasn’t fair. I felt the tears welling in my eyes, felt the sting of them as I tried to hold it back. “It’s… his clothes, mom.”

“I don’t understand,” my mom said.

“I think I do,” I said quietly, “I think… he wants to try again.”

I peered further into the box, and underneath the very first sweater he had given me, a letter peeked out from the edge. I swallowed, hard, as I unfolded it. His handwriting.

To, My Stars,

The sky has been starless since we ended. And I know we’ve been fractured for some time, but a broken world with you is better than a broken world alone. The moon doesn’t belong in a sky without stars.

Please, call me.

Your moon.

~ ~ ~

“Aiden please!” Star scrambled towards him, on her knees she held onto his legs, “Please don’t do this!”

She could feel his pain, she could feel every aching guilt struck thought that pierced him, but she couldn’t stop begging. Her mind couldn’t stop moving.

“I’m sorry, Star,” he said, his voice hollow, a single tear streaked his face, as he pried her away from him, “I’m sorry. I’m tired. And I know you are too… We can’t keep going like this.”

“How dare you?” she snapped, her arms meeting with nothing but air, she could feel the cold of the tiled floor, and her only means for support was the rim of the bathtub as she tried to stand, using it. “How dare you make me love you? How dare you take my heart and throw it away?”

“Star, it’s not like that…”

“No!” she shouted, much louder than she had intended, and in a way, she had never spoken to him before. He looked struck, jumping back a little. She couldn’t look at him, so she focused on the ground, her hair tumbled down the sides of her face as she spoke in a ghost like voice, “You knew,” she started, “You fought like hell for my love because you knew it would be hard for me to open my heart to you. You knew I was afraid and yet…”

“Star, I will always love you.” She heard him speak, she heard the words, but she didn’t feel them anymore. I love you became nothing in the span of two seconds.

“Don’t give me that,” she snapped, “Someone who loves me wouldn’t do this.”. She half expected him to sit down by her side, to assure her he did love her. To do everything he could to convince her he loved her.

But when she raised her eyes from the floor to where he stood by the door, he was gone.

~ ~ ~

Every day since that night I had dreamt of this happening. The day he would ask for me back. Every morning I awoke at 4:30, not on purpose, because thoughts of him would wake me up.

An alarm clock in a way, but one that made me dread waking, because when I did, my mind was too tired to fight away thoughts of him, so when they came, I cried a river in the bathroom. For months that was my routine.

I begged the universe, and I begged him, my moon, to take me back. Until the day my mother came to visit.

A sky without the moon is still beautiful. She had said. Stars shine brighter that way.

It had taken a while for me to believe that, to understand what she had meant. I knew she was saying I would be better without him, but it had been lost in a cave of my memories, and it was assurance I didn’t want to accept.

“Star, I know you’ve been wanting him back. And he’s a good man-” my mom started, her voice uncertain, perhaps even nervous.

“I know what to do,” I interrupted, grabbing a piece of paper and a pen. I could feel the fear emanating from my phone, I knew my mom had other thoughts and I knew she was afraid I would take him back.

Every single part of me hadn’t felt whole since he left…



“Thank you for showing me that stars are beautiful on their own.”

Dear Aiden,

Thank you for loving me. Thank you for teaching me it’s okay to receive a sweater. For teaching me it’s okay to be loved. And it’s okay to love.

I couldn’t have done it without you.

But I have learned to breathe on my own, and I have learned to warm myself. So, I don’t need your clothes anymore.

If you had asked me, maybe even a month ago, to put the stars back in the sky with the moon, I would have jumped at the opportunity. We were beautiful, we were bright, and it’s taken me a long time to see the beauty we had and not wish for it back.

I wanted to give you the world, but now, I want to take it for myself. To see what it has to offer me. We were beautiful, but we have to be beautiful on our own.

A sky without stars is still beautiful when it has the moon. I love you, and I hope you warm another broken human with your sweater.

Because it works wonders to heal.


I signed the letter with a heart and placed it atop the clothes. The thought still entered where I might regret the decision to turn him down. But its voice was much quieter than it had been before. And I knew that as the days turned to weeks, and the weeks turned to months, and the months into years, that voice would become mute.

Before folding the letter closed, I added one last thing.

PS – Aiden means ‘little fire’. I thought it was time you knew that.

Short StoryLove

About the Creator

Paige Hermione

"You're entirely bonkers. But I'll tell you a secret. All the best people are."

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