Ashley

The night drew its curtain deep over the world, soft and quiet. Its lonely ashen shimmer like a whisper retreating. And all alone, a small girl sitting in the crescent of the moon, toes dipped in that endless puddle, rain boots dancing. She wore a white raincoat, bucket hat, and boots. Strapped to her back was a small black and white striped parasol umbrella, the name Ashley stitched into the hemming.
She sat there humming Claire de Lune, moonlight gliding from each note, swaying with the lunar dust. In that moment—a moment she could not herself explain—a tear began to swell. It wasn’t sadness or happiness, but it was from the heart: a dormant heart and innocent. The tear fell swiftly from her cheek, and though she reached to catch it, it fell through her fingers into that vast ocean beneath her feet.
It was then she felt it in her chest: that feeling of leaving home for the first time—both wonderful and terrifying. She just didn’t know what for, but maybe, she thought, her tear did. Without another thought, she dived head first into that breathless embrace, courage trailing at her heels. She could see the tear falling still, reaching for the sun. She knew she had to reach it, if only to look inside for a moment. She turned her head back towards her feet, puffed up what little air left she had in her lungs, and exhaled, propelling her forward.
She reached the tear just before it vanished for the sun. She looked in its reflection, and saw a woman smiling, waving goodbye with soft hands. The woman blew a kiss, eyes searching the way a mother’s might watching her child leave for the first day of school. They were eyes that would linger long after everyone else’s had turned away, but in them something so afraid. The tear vanished, and with it the image.
The sun was close now. The umbrella rattled on her back, and burst open like a sail. It veered her course far left, swinging her around the sun, and launching her towards Earth once more. In the commotion, the umbrella fell from her back. It was drifting now, again towards the sun, but she could not stop it this time. She knew she had to let it go, the word Ashley shimmering like a star in all that lonely night.
Falling back to Earth, the day had just arrived, reclaiming what it had lost. Reclaiming what it had lost.