Portrait of the sky

‘Erin, why can’t we see the stars in the daytime?’ Her little eyes looked up at me, willing an answer.
I peered back out my bedroom window, searching the blue sky. Other than a few clouds sprinkled about, it was a clear, bright morning.
‘Hmm…that is a great question, Kitti. I think it’s because the sun is so bright that we can’t see them. But they haven’t gone away, they’re still out there.’
She furrowed her brow for a moment, thinking this over.
‘I think it’s because stars are yellow and the sky is blue.’ She contested.
‘Well, that’s absolutely true too. It’s like the sun paints over them every morning with the sky.’
She smiled at that. ‘Yeah, you know, when you paint dark blue on yellow then it becomes light blue.’
Smart little cookie…
I smiled back at her and said, ‘But look, we can still see the moon. Isn’t that funny?’ I pointed to the half moon still high in the morning sky. Her big, blue eyes followed my finger outside.
‘Oh yeah! Why is the moon still there?’
Why indeed.
Why doesn’t the moon just move on, like she’s supposed to? Why does she just sit there, so vulnerable, slowly burning up? Her gaze fixed on one point, never flinching.
‘Maybe the moon likes painting too.’ Kitti said, finally.
I was stumped. ‘What do you mean?’
‘Well you need the white of the moon to make the blue in the sky.’
‘Ok…so is the moon the painter, or the sun?’ I asked, clearly in the presence of genius.
‘The sun is painting, and the moon likes to watch. But then the moon puts the stars on later.’
‘Do you think the moon likes watching?’
‘It is a pretty picture the sun paints every morning, isn’t it?’
‘Yeah, but when the clouds come they have to go away.’
‘Oh, well where do they go?’
‘I don’t know.’ She said, sadly.
It was my turn to squish my face into an inquisition, searching for answers, shuffling around thoughts. At last, I said, ‘Maybe they run away together while no one can see them. Maybe they’re playing hide and seek with the world when the clouds cover for them. They work pretty hard at their jobs, don’t you think? To light up the world, keep everything alive, and well after they have put the world to bed, they continue to make sure everything stays in running order. Day in, day out. So every now and then, they just need a little rest. A quiet place to flop into. A world just for them. A place to call home.’
‘That’s like when I get home from school. I just want to play with Bunny in my room because I miss her so much when I’m gone.’
‘Yeah, you’re not allowed to take her to school, right?’
‘Yeah, that makes me sad.’
‘I know, sweetheart. Does Bunny get sad too?’
‘Have you ever thought that maybe Bunny thinks you’re just playing a game? Just like the sun and the moon playing hide and seek?’
‘Yeah.’ A grin spread over her little face. ‘I love hide and seek! You wanna play with me?’
How can I say no to that face? I sighed.
‘I sure do. You’ve got until the count of ten!’
As I closed my eyes, I could hear her scuttling away, squealing involuntarily.

And for a moment, there, behind my eyes, the sun and the moon sat gazing into one another. Captivated. In their own private universe.

The next moment, they were gone.

I began to count.


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