Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The sky is falling

It was unusual for Peep to be outside at night, but here she was, outside in the pitch dark. The skies were clear, and if she sat in a particular part of the front yard, she could see the stars well. They were beautiful, and she enjoyed looking at them. She’d heard on the television that some people put names to different groups of stars that reminded them of things. There was something called the big dipper, which seemed to have an offspring named the little dipper. Some stars even had their own names. There was the North Star, Polaris, that people used to find their way at night, and there was the funny named star – Beetle Juice. She ate beetles from time to time, and some of them were a bit juicy, but she didn’t know why people would have named a star after the goo inside of beetles. As far as Peep knew, people didn’t eat beetles.

Tonight she just wanted to admire the stars, and greet her own constellations. There was the Cat, of course. It was a long group of stars that looked to her like a cat all stretched out in the midst of a leap. There was the Mice, which was a tight little group of stars that looked like a little family of mice all huddled together as though they had been cornered and were about to be caught. Her favorite though was Mommy’s Chair, which was a group of stars that looked like a chair. She imagined that a star mommy would sit in the chair to allow the star cat to come and sit in her lap.

As she watched the stars tonight, something happened that she’d never seen before. As she looked at Mommy’s Chair, a star near it suddenly moved very quickly, streaking across a section of sky and appearing to fall down towards the ground. It didn’t seem to be falling towards her, so Peep wasn’t worried that a giant star was about to fall on her, but if one star could fall, couldn’t all the rest? As Peep worried about this and continued to watch the sky, another star plummeted towards earth.

One is just one, but two means it happened more than once and could happen many, many times, thought Peep. She lay there, trying to decide what she should do. Tell LT? Well, what could he do? Nothing – he was a cat like her. Tell Daddy? He was big and strong and could fix almost anything, but she didn’t think he could get up into the sky and fix stars. Tell Mommy? Oh, yes! Mommy worked at NASA this summer. NASA was the place where they sent people up to the stars, so they would certainly know what to do about stars that wouldn’t stay up in the sky. Peep just wished that Mommy has spent her summer there working on stars instead of turnips, but at least she knew people at NASA now.

Peep ran inside to get the Mommy. It would be difficult, because she was sure that Mommy was asleep, and she’d heard her say that she was still trying to catch up on her sleep. This was important, though, and Peep decided that she’d wake Mommy, whatever it took and get her outside.

Jumping on the bed, Peep proceeded to sing to the Mommy. “Are the stars out tonight, who cares if it’s cloudy or bright, I only have eyes for you!” No, that wouldn’t do. “Twinkle, twinkle little star, How I wonder what you are.” That song was too babyish. As she tried to decide on another one, Daddy picked up Mommy’s hand that was on top of the blanket and pushed Peep off the bed. She hated when he did that. Like she didn’t know who was pushing her off the bed. She wasn’t stupid, you know.

So Peep sat on the little table and sang, talked and was generally annoying until Mommy sat up and looked at her. “Peep, is there a reason behind all of this noise? I’m trying to catch up on my sleep after all the hours I put in on that darn internship paper.” Peep just meowed louder, and jumped to the floor, running to the door and meowing again. Mommy shook her head and decided she better figure out what Peep wanted. Maybe one of the other cats was sick or hurt.

At the back door Peep stopped and meowed very loudly. She pawed at the door with velveted paws until the Mommy opened it. “Is the cat door stuck, Peep? Was that the problem?” When Peep refused to move off the top step and meowed if possible even louder, Mary Rose decided that Peep must really want her to come outside.

Without even turning on the light, Mary Rose stepped outside. It had cooled off considerably, and the night sky was bright with stars. The moon was not out, so the stars were brighter than usual. As soon as she looked up, Peep stopped meowing. Well, thought Peep, that was easier than I thought it would be. She’ll see one in a minute and settled down to look for the falling stars herself.

Within a minute or two Peep saw one streak across the sky. Obviously the Mommy saw it too, because she said to Peep, “Did you see that shooting star? Oh, that was beautiful. I forgot that it’s August, and the meteor showers are in August. Don’t worry Peep, those aren’t real stars. They’re just little bits of junk that hit the atmosphere and burn up. Almost all the time nothing even reaches the ground, except maybe for some dust.”

All the tension went out of Peep at once. Nothing to worry about – little bits of junk. Great news! Her favorite constellations wouldn’t fall down, and they wouldn’t get smooshed by giant stars hitting them. She could just lie here and enjoy the show, which she did with the Mommy, who decided to stay and watch also.

Photo courtesy of Rongem Boyo - http://flickr.com/photos/writemboyo/1102099113/

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