The stars are so bright above the clouds. I stand there, the freezing cold mass of grey clouds swirling around my hips, watching the stars shine. They twinkle up there, in their millions, like candle flames in a breeze. In all my lives, in all the hundreds of planets I’ve been to, I don’t think I’ve seen anything as beautiful.
Standing a hundred miles high, I can see everything – dark horizon to dark horizon. The sky is midnight-blue velvet, embedded with a thousand diamond jewels. I reach out my hand and close my fingers around one. Slowly, I bring my fist back to earth, and gaze at it. I can feel the star: it’s as hot as a white-hot poker. Shards of intense white light are blasting through my fingers.
Slowly, so slowly, I open my hand, gaze at the star in wonder. It’s like a diamond, a perfect white diamond, glowing with life. It shines so bright I have to squint. It’s perfect but somehow cruel. It’s roughly circular, but with jaggedy edges as sharp as razor blades. It’s white-hot and I can feel my fingers frying. I gaze at it for a while longer, admiring it from every angle. When it begins to burn a hole in my hand I take it in finger and thumb and carefully throw it back into the heavens.
It streaks across the sky, a blazing comet. The star burns white with a long yellow tail, cutting the dark sky in two. I watch it until it disappears over the horizon. The tail lasts longer, but after a while, it too fades away to nothing. I look down at my hand and discover a black patch in the centre of my palm. The star burnt through my skin. I look back up at the stars and wish with all my heart that I could join them.