It’s 3 a.m and I am looking at the stars submerged in water. The sky has turned black, but somehow it still holds on tightly to a few stars.  I impale my eyes on the Pleione Star, and the Morning Star. Or, as my grandmother used to call them, Asternós and Poúlio.

She used to tell me this folk tale about them, in which Asternós and Poulio were step siblings, and Asternós loved Poulio so much, that when his own mother decided to sell his sister, to make a great deal out of her impeccable beauty, that she was so deeply jealous of, he made it his life’s mission to protect Poulio. And as the mother was braiding Poulio’s hair, he ripped the hairbands from the inside of his mother’s hands, and grabbed Poulio to save her from disaster, carrying her in his arms to safety. After they managed to escape, Asternós got thirsty, and, despite his beloved sister’s advice not to drink from a sheep’s footprint full of water, he was so thirsty, that he didn’t even listen to her tiny, raspy voice, only to later become transformed into a sheep.

Poulio, still led her brother on, and they later found a new kingdom. Despite thinking that this this would be their new home, the only one who was saved was Poulio, because the Prince, stunned by her looks, wed her, slaughtering the turned -into- a lamb Asternós, and serving him as the main dish in the royal symposium, despite his wife’s cries and pleads. Poulio didn’t even touch her plate, and patiently waited to collect all of the bones, which she later buried in the gardens. The next morning, the most beautiful, tall, sour orange tree had risen, with a single fruit popping out of its branches. They all insisted on taking the fruit, but as soon as they tried to reach it, the tree would grow taller, greater, and stronger. Until Poulio made her attempt. She climbed the tree-

“What are you thinking about?” I hear an all too familiar voice whispering in my ear, as a pair of arms strokes my hair.

I briefly snap out of it, take a glimpse at the moon and immediately return my gaze to the voice, only to find a pair of light green eyes staring back at me. I catch my reflection in the water, trying not to drown in my thoughts once again. The irises that accompany the voice, occupies my head for now, and I think of another story.

Once upon a time, there was this girl that was utterly alone in the deep, infinite universe. Rumour had it, she was the most ethereal human being many had come across, and everyone was instantly smitten by her presence. They all loved simply looking at her so much, that it was decided that they put into a museum, keeping her in a glass box so as to admire her beauty, but depriving her of a voice, an opinion, and peace of mind.

She always dreamt of getting out of this constructed, real life definition of hell, but never managed to wrap her head around a getaway. For she was trapped, inside a world built only for her. And, truth is, she was unbelievably tired of being admired. She wanted to be touched. She wanted to be loved.

But one banal night, as she was buried in her dreams, she felt risky, mischievous, and decided to go on a tour of the rest of the building. Getting out of her tank, she encountered all sorts of monsters and strange beings. At first, she became absolutely terrified by them, only to become used to them after a while. So, she kept on wandering. After a while, she came face to face with a door that had a sign that cried; “Do not open”. She actually became utterly fascinated by this order, for she was full of being told what to do. So she went on to pick the lock and enter the room.

What she saw that night, would leave her changed for the rest of her existence.

Returning her jaw back to its place, she faced a room full of cold, rotten moss, and wrecked furniture, and crumbled inside the mess, stood a boy, who looked as if he’d been waiting for something from the moment she entered the room. He didn’t look surprised at all, almost as if he’d waiting for her. And she, holy hell, it was like she was staring at her reflection in the mirror. The boy was buried in the dark, but was shining brighter than the Sun itself. She wanted to try and remember the Sun, but it had been too long since she’d seen it. A soft, warm voice asks the girl what she wants, and she instantly replies that she seeks freedom, but it feels like she’s already found a form of liberation.

Not changing her mind, and raising her voice, she now shouts that she wants to leave this one-star world that she’s trapped into. She doesn’t know why, she suddenly poured her heart out to a boy that she doesn’t even know, but somehow, getting closer to him, staring at his double iris and messy hair, feels home. She feels strong.

The voice grabs her hand and guides her through the halls, through the darkness, through it all. They pass in front of what used to be her place in the museum, and after giving the empty space a final acknowledging look, leaves her place behind her.

As she rushes through the doors, grasping onto the boy’s hand, trying not to let it go, for she is running like the wind, pushed by her previously buried desires. And as they break the door, and the alarms go off, they run to the nearest source of water, and submerge themselves in it, burying the heads in the cold, as the wild blue yonder smiles upon them, filled with stars, and a soft breeze strokes their hair, while soft music plays inside their heads only, so they dance, and they laugh, for the past is in the past.

“You got sucked in again, didn’t you?” The most beloved melody in my ears cries once again.

“I guess I kind of did” I reply, as I turn around to kiss a set of rosy lips under the moonlight.

And at this moment, I felt like we were the only two people in the entire universe. And this is the kind of freedom that I’d never let go of. It’s almost like I’m deeply trapped inside it.

But then I realise that I never got to finish the Asternós and Poúlio story that got my head carried away.

You see, when Poúlio took her chance on climbing the tree, and as soon as she grasped the sour orange, the tree became so tall that it reached the sky.  As Poúlio was reaching the greatest height, she cried to everyone surrounding the tree:

“Goodbye, my beloved, for I know that you have loved me, but I couldn’t spend another minute in your bitter world, for I have fallen in hands that do not know how to hold, so I’ll become dust and rise to reach the stars with the only one I love.”

And since then, Asternós and Poúlio have become the two most vigorous set of stars, that everyone around the world catches a glimpse of on late nights, and the early mornings. The Pleiades star cluster and, Aphrodite, of course.

The voice and I have left the water for now. And as we now, stare together the beautiful pair of stars, carefully placed in the night sky, I forget about leaving.

For we are already moving forward.

Author: Ioanna Vargianiti

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