True short story: The girl under the stars — Mark Roberts


It was 2am when I jolted up in bed; there was a banging on my bedroom door: “Mark, we can’t find Cathy!” cried Jenny. The look on her face startled me and I knew the girls were worried. Cathy was a quiet lady who had come to the farm for help with her addiction. She was addicted to prescribed medication and suffered severely from depression. The depression was intensified by the fact that her two young children were living with her mother.

“Where did you see her last?” I asked as I whipped on an old, dirty farm shirt I wore the day before. “We heard her crying in the dorm and she just took off into the dark,” Jenny cried, tears still falling. “She ran toward the fields and that was more than an hour ago” exclaimed Jenny. “What if she gets bitten by a snake or abducted or worse… she could be raped out there?” Jenny was such an emotional mother, always expecting the worst of any situation. Jenny had a disturbed and abusive past which understandably resulted in her manner of thinking.

“Jenny,” I said as tenderly as I could muster, “go to bed, I’ll find her.”

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The night was warm as I walked toward the fields. The stars shone brighter than usual, illuminating the lands before me. I walked through the tall grass, praying the adders had all gone to bed. I had one mission on my mind: finding Cathy!

I heard a whimper ahead of me, slowed my pace and whispered her name. She responded with sniffs and a muffled cry. She had a duvet around her – despite the night’s warm breeze – and I suspected that it was more for comfort than protection from the elements.

I seated myself in the grass beside her and looked up at the heavens. We sat in utter silence… There they were; Orion, Canis Major and Vela – amongst the great constellations. I stared in awe at the great Creation. The breeze touched the tall grass, caressing it gently, forcing it to perform an almost trance-like dance. As the grass swayed its hips, I whispered: “Cathy, are you okay?” She said nothing. We continued to sit in silence for what seemed like an eternity.

“Cathy,” I said, “What’s the matter?”

“I don’t know, I just don’t know,” she cried. “Why am I even here, nothing makes sense? I was a terrible wife and I am a horrible mother,” she continued.

At times like this, there isn’t much one can say to change how they feel. Instead, I looked to the stars and pointed out the constellations to her. I told her about Abraham and how God had told him that he would make his descendants as the stars in the heavens and how God had loved Abraham. I told her how some theologians believed that the actual translation said that God would write the story of his descendants in the stars. In other words, God was referring not only to the number of descendants but the sequence of events of the Gospel in the stars.

I proceeded to show her the great message written in the stars of God’s plan for man, from creation until the end of time. She stared toward the heavens, in awe as I pointed to the stars. Stories many believe God wrote long before Adam had ever walked the earth. The stories were all there, from the fall to redemption, from Lucifer’s pride to Jesus’s sacrifice — the story of the great battle between good and evil (between Lucifer and God). As she sat and listened, her tears dried. At times she would ask questions related to God’s plan for her.

Between her questions one could determine what she really wanted to know. Could a God who wrote a story in the stars love a woman like her? Could such a God love a woman who had failed her husband, her children? Could He have been thinking of her as He wrote the story in the stars?

The breeze picked up and for a moment I was sure I heard a whispering voice in the gentle wind: “Yes, Cathy. When I wrote the story in those stars I was thinking of you. I loved you long before I wrote the story. It is our story, so that you will always be reminded of My great love for you.”

I wasn’t sure if Cathy heard anything; she still sat giggling amidst tears. I hoped she did. Perhaps in the moment it was just a figment of my excited imagination. We continued to sit in the tall grass until the stars began to fade. On the distant horizon, a faint glow began to light the sky. Sunrise! The great Author who wrote our story in the stars transformed Himself to the great artist. He threw His hand across the horizon, painting His promises in a myriad of colours across the sky. We sat in silence as the Artist, like a suitor giving flowers to His betrothed, gave us a show of colours and a message of hope and a new day.

When I think of that night, I think of a subway platform in Washington DC, where a young classical violinist played for tips on a cold winter morning. The passengers were in such a rush to get to work that no one heard the incredible melodies. He played six Bach pieces for 45 minutes. Thousands of passengers passed that platform but very few stopped. In fact, one man stopped to listen, looked at his watch and moved on. A three-year-old boy who stood watching in awe was yanked away by his mother who hadn’t noticed the event. In all that time he made a measly $32. No applause, no one standing in awe, mesmerised or staring, just a busy beehive. The amazing thing is that the artist was none other than the world-renowned violinist Joshua Bell, faultlessly playing some of the most intricate and difficult pieces on a violin (valued at $3.5-million). Just two days before this, Bell had sold out a theatre in Boston where tickets sold for an average of  $100.

Very sad indeed, but very real. We walk aimlessly, look but don’t see, hear but don’t listen. It is the same with God. We don’t look at the story of love captured in the stars or painted in the daily sunrise. We don’t hear His voice in the wind and we don’t see the courting of a Suitor who is so infatuated with us that He could write our story in the stars.

Indeed, maybe He isn’t the problem in this broken world.

I haven’t seen Cathy for many years but I thought I caught a glimpse of her once in her car standing at a traffic light. She had a smile on her face, staring toward the horizon and I couldn’t help wondering if she had just heard God’s voice in the wind: “I love you, Cathy. It’s painted on the horizon and it’s written in the stars.”

One Comment

  1. I loved this read, a thought provoking, heart warming reality, of how much more there is to our existence, if only we’d stop and take the time to appreciate and explore beyond our busy lives.