Maureen mancini amaturo
He wore a cloak of stars and hid among the dwellers of the night sky until I called on him to dismount and walk among the regulars. Two half-moons circled his head of forest-like hair. I imagined veins of energy flowing in one, streams of knowledge in the other. As he came closer, I stood taller, as tall as the black pointed staff he held in his bear-like hand. Now that he was here, I was short on conversation and in awe of the blue and gold of that cloak.
I had seen him gallop across midnight and the hours until the sun reigned all the days until this moment. I watched while the world slept, peeking through foggy panes at the man on his horse, the sky guardian–or that’s what I thought his fate to be. And now, he stands before me because I called. Had I known he was there for me, I would have engaged him long ago for that was my fascination with the man, wizard, god, spirit, whoever he is beneath that swath of stars. But courage did not serve me before tonight. Commanding the sky, he appeared burly and muscled, beguiling and massive, and I thought, surely, a being so grand would ignore someone so trivial as I.
He stood silent, though his horse shifted anxiously, obviously unaccustomed to stillness. The star man stared at me and without words asked how he might serve me. Serve me? I thought. He, the one who gallops across the galaxy? Serve me?
“Yes, serve you.”
Astounding. He could read my mind. He spoke in thoughts. I heard his answer and knew his voice, though his lips remained still. Of course, I should have been in awe, but somehow, this did not surprise me. Could I tell him I dreamed of living among the stars? Could I tell him earth was too small for me?
“Ask,” I heard him say. “This is your moment.”
I can’t, I said to myself, forgetting he would know my thoughts. Humility, fear, inferiority wrapped around me as if they were my own cloak.
“What do you fear? Why are you less? Who succeeds who is not bold?”
His questions took form. In my mind, I saw shackles with spikes through the chains holding me down.
“Ask,” he said again. “If you feel you are nothing, you will never have the courage to ask. Are you nothing?”
I looked to the ground.
“If you ask nothing, nothing can be given.”
Surely, I am more than nothing, I thought.
“You are.” His voice swirled in my head.
Dare I ask? Dare I try?
“Dare you not?” he asked. “If there is a place you want to go, begin the journey. If there is a thing you want to own, begin the reach. If there is a higher level you desire, start the climb.”
I heard and felt and tasted his words. If I were to change, if my world were to change, I would only have to commit. I looked at his horse, scraping diamond hooves across the damp earth, gauging deeper and deeper into the dirt, anxious as if he, the animal itself, was waiting for my reply.
“This is your moment,” the star man said again. “So many waste their chance to be among the stars.”
I had no intention to waste my moment. “I want to go with you.” I said it, aloud, then covered my mouth ashamed of my audacity. Remembering that he had said, dare I not ask, I slid my hand away and stood straighter, prouder.
His horse snorted and rattled its silver mane then moved toward me. It kneeled down on its two front legs, inviting me to climb onto its back. “Climb,” the star man said. “Step into your moment.” He stretched his hand toward me. Together, we sat high, the horse beneath us grunting and climbing. The wind causing his star cape to billow and unfurl and wave and encircle me. Now, I, too, wore a cape of stars.
I knew not where we were headed, but wherever it was, it was not where I started. I was moving toward my dream because I dared to be bold. I was rising. I was climbing. I no longer felt small. I was among the stars. I was one of them.
Maureen Mancini Amaturo, a New York based fashion/beauty writer and columnist, teaches creative writing, leads the Sound Shore Writers Group, which she founded in 2007, and produces literary events. An award-winning writer, once named “America’s next Flannery O’Connor,” her personal essays, creative non-fiction, short stories, humor pieces, articles, and celebrity interviews have appeared in many magazines, journals, and anthologies including: The Dark Sire, Drunken Pen, Book Smuggler’s Den, Dime Show Review, Flash Non-Fiction Food Anthology (Woodhall Press,) Things That Go Bump, (Sez Publishing,) and Points In Case. At The 2009 Edgar Awards, she received a Certificate of Recognition on behalf of the city of Baltimore for her efforts in promoting the works of Edgar Allan Poe. A handwriting analyst diagnosed her with an overdeveloped imagination. She’s working to live up to that.