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Tales of Thanksgiving: A Drabble Collection: 21. How to Paint a Star
French Pony once wrote a story about Fëanor that began with him stretching to reach something he thought to be unattainable. "Fire Ascending" is one of my favorite Silmfics, and through it, I discovered not only a fantastic author but a friend who unfailingly challenges and helps me as a writer.
"How to Paint a Star" is a quibble (five hundred words) reflecting the idea of a young Fëanor reaching for something that is unattainable-for the moment-and my recent fascination with the Mindon Eldaliéva.
How to Paint a Star
From where comes the light atop Mindon Eldaliéva?
This is the question I ask, the reason that I rise before the King-my father-even, to sneak atop the palace and gaze upon the Mindon. To ask: How is it possible?
The wind is brisk up here. It took a while to climb: first the lattice in the garden and then the windowsill to the loose brick that slipped from my fingers and fell a long, long way to break on the terrace below.
I feel fear, like the blink of an eye: a wince and darkness. Quavering fingers pressed to the bricks, I look at the Mindon and cannot be afraid.
From the loose brick, I move to the next-higher window; then I am at the stones, and it is a bit easier, all the way to the top of the palace. I still have to tip my head back as far as it will go to see to the top of the Mindon, where the light glows, blurry in the early-morning mist as though rubbed by a hand. The tower twists to meet it. Against the night that lies thick above the wan morning Treelight, the tower is very pale. I stretch my arm beside it until my elbow pops and hurts. My arm, too, is very pale against the darkness, and I wonder: Maybe the Mindon had been an arm like mine, stretched thin and grown stronger over the years?
From where, then, comes the light?
My father says that Varda made the light, just as she'd made the stars. Upon the shadow-side of Tirion, the stars burn so brightly in the sky that even when I close my eyes, I see their shapes, red-gold against the insides of my eyelids. I can't sleep on that side of the city, not knowing that stars are overhead. As soon as the door snicks shut behind my father, I am out of bed and leaning from the window to memorize their shapes in the sky.
But if the Mindon is but another star, then what does that mean? Are not the stars supposed to be unattainable, destined to be strung between my fingers as I stretch my hand against the night? But the Mindon-I put a slippered toe between the bricks. For a breathless moment, it holds me. Then my foot slips away, and I fall back to the roof. My heart is beating fast, as though I'd climbed higher, risked more. My fingers curl between the bricks. If I kept practicing, climbing, stretching-
Could I touch a star?
Would the light cling to my fingertips like the glow from fireflies? Could I paint my own stars then, across my bedroom ceiling or upon the stone in my father's circlet?
And if I captured the secret of the stars, what gifts could I give to the Eldar?
My arm stretched, pretending that my hand cups the lamp at the top of the Mindon, I can almost imagine it.
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