300-word story: Even echinoderms have hopes and dreams.
I am a starfish. That isn't a positive affirmation, such as repeatedly saying aloud that I'm a winner. I am, quite literally, a starfish. Born near the Florida coast, I regularly changed my surroundings in an attempt to find a place that felt like home. Over many years I tried everywhere from coral reefs to rock pools, but my favourite spot by far was the shoreline of Cape Canaveral.
It was here that I would lie flat against the cooling sand, an eye pointed upwards at a night sky alive with gently glinting specks. The stars are mesmerising; they remind me of oyster pearls, only without the noise, bustle and constant danger that come with living on the seabed. I spent months daydreaming about going up there, swirling around the cosmos with nothing but solar winds to guide my path, knowing all the while that this was an impossible fantasy.
Then, one evening when there wasn't a cloud in sight, I witnessed the most astonishing event. A thunderous boom came out of nowhere, quickly followed by a thin white stream that reached higher and higher above the horizon.
Intent on finding out more, I began moving toward the source of the blast. Though the journey was long, tiring and filled with obstacles, I eventually arrived at a space rocket launch site. Climbing the platform was the most difficult thing I had ever done, yet the effort paid off and somehow, against all odds, I entered a shuttle undetected.
Weightless and watching Earth shrink a little more with each passing day, I marvel at having finally found my true home. Once I was a simple sea creature, but now I am so much more. I am and will forever be not a mere starfish, but a glorious fish of the stars.
Copyright © 2021 Rich Sutherland
Image: David Clode