WE ARE STARDUST
Curled in a fetal position, Audrey lay on her son’s bed.
Silence pierced her heart. She missed his laugh, the stories he took an age to tell, and the warmth of his cheek when she kissed him.
‘I’m sorry I couldn’t protect you. It should have been me not you. Please,’ she sobbed. ‘I’ll do anything to bring him back.’ She closed her eyes and a void, as black as ink, surrounded her. In the distance, she saw two white doors.
‘Hello?’ Audrey’s voice echoed into the abyss. Her chest grew tight. ‘Is anyone there?’ Something wasn’t right. Was she dreaming?
A soft yellow light appeared between the two doors. ‘Your offer has been accepted.’ The voice was nurturing, and a calm settled in Audrey’s bones.
‘I can’t see you, step forward,’ Audrey called.
‘You don’t need to see me to know who I am. I am all.’
The glow burned brighter, and Audrey was overwhelmed with contentment, something she hadn’t felt for months, not since the accident.
‘Before you are two doors. The one on the left will take you back to the life you have now, the door on the right will lead you to a world where your son is alive.’ The voice spoke with a silvery softness.
‘Alive?’ Tears stained Audrey’s face. She raced to the door on the right, twisted the golden handle and pushed, but it didn’t open. The door was locked.
‘First, you must agree to the terms. Once you pass through the door you will not be able to return, and you will only have twenty-four hours to spend with your son.’
‘But he’ll be alive, breathing, healthy?’
‘Yes. Are you willing to make this sacrifice?’
‘Of course!’ Audrey reached for the handle again and woke in her son’s bed to the sound of birds chirping. The clock on his bedside table read 7:00 am. Bedsheets shuffled and Audrey’s son stretched his arm across her.
Audrey took his face in her palms and kissed his forehead. ‘You’re here. You’re real!’
‘Can we go to the park today, Mum?’
She laughed. ‘We can do anything you like.’ Audrey choked back her tears.
They spent the morning at the playground, ate burgers for lunch, explored the woods in the afternoon and bought pizza for dinner. It felt familiar. It felt good. For months, she’d been desperate to feel anything other than the grief and heartbreak.
On their walk home, Audrey noticed the sun setting in the east. ‘What is this place?’ she whispered.
That evening, Audrey’s son watched movies while she watched him, and when she woke in his bed the next day, it was 6:58 am.
Audrey stroked her son’s face. ‘I love you.’ As she watched him sleep, she let her love for him flood through her and it filled her with joy.
Her body flickered and glitched as she tried to stay a little longer, then she exploded into a billion tiny lights and faded into nothing and everything.
© Michelle Upton