Shortlisted Entry: Stardust

Choosing between homework and helping my Mother clean the ten thousand square feet compound interlinks for her luxury of time pass (because my Mom refused to let the maids do it) wasn’t even much of a bargain.


I played school with a simple strategy: the last-minute rule. So at 4 pm, on a dreary afternoon, I changed into track pants and headed downstairs. The job was pretty simple. I had to hold the water hose, while my Mother swept the torrent of water towards the slight incline that led towards the grass; that was how the sand on the interlinks would get mixed with the water and then drain away.

We were doing this for about an hour (during which my Mother dismissed the maids thrice) when, while washing the compound wall that joined with the garage wall, we came upon a deeply burrowed hole. Upon spraying water there, a hoard of fat, black beetles crawled lazily out. I stood there watching them, getting goose bumps on my arms even though I wanted to squeak and run.

What fixedly caught my attention was one peculiar looking beetle. Instead of being completely black, it had a small white splotch on its back which looked like a star. Naturally, I showered them with a less lethal jet of water so all the beetles would scuttle safely in the direction opposite to mine so that they wouldn’t get crushed under my Mother’s water slider.

All the beetles seemed willing to oblige except my starred rebel. She kept coming towards me and I kept spraying her repeatedly to no avail. While the others ran away from the fray, she was running towards it, head on. We resorted to ignoring the beetles altogether. When the cleaning was done, I noticed that all the other beetles had found their way back to the borough except of course, the starred rebel. Instead, she was climbing the wall, following the way that would lead away from her burrow and out into the world. For once it seemed as if she had been waiting for this sort of opportunity all her life. And the world had finally given her a chance. I stood there watching – finally having handed the water pipe to one of the maids – as she walked with no tardiness and no falter in her step.

She made her way to the edge of the wall and then was above it where I couldn’t see her anymore.

The next day, at five, I went downstairs for a jog. I looked once again at the path that the dreamer had taken. And tracing the path to the ground, my eyes came upon something on the edge of it.

It was the cracked husk of the dead star beetle, its legs sticking out lifelessly. I stared at it for a couple of minutes. Then I turned away with a smile.

At least, she saw more than the lone darkness of the only abode in her life.


Art Credit: Nychole Owens.


Author: Sarah Madani, Ajman.
Find her @empresssarahofthebooks

Leave a Reply