outer space is supposed to be very cold.
you would’t know because you’ve never been but that’s what everybody says. that’s what it says in all of the textbooks and on the podcasts and told by the officials.
it’s supposed to be very quiet, too.
you wouldn’t know because you’ve never been. you wouldn’t know because you aren’t very smart. you don’t give yourself a lot of credit. you know some things, you suppose. useless things but at least you aren’t entirely incapable.
you were trying to make a point. what was it? outer space was cold and outer space was quiet.
eddie had started out cold and quiet. he had been entirely your opposite. he still was, in a lot of ways, but at least now you could see beyond those differences. just like how he saw passed your flaws, your edges, your faults. you had so many faults. every day, you wonder how you ever are lucky enough to have him in your life.
eddie had started out cold. you had started out burning. one comment, not intended to be offensive, and you had nearly flipped a table in your anger. you had exploded, hissing and clawing, overreacting as you tended to do. he hadn’t meant anything by it, assuring you that he hadn’t meant it in the way you’d assumed. you still aren’t sure whether or not he had unintentionally complimented you in that moment. maybe you’d ask him one day.
eddie had started out quiet. you had started out loud. he had a lot to say, you eventually learned, but he was very good at getting his point across. short and quick, no dawdling, no back and forth. it took you an embarrassingly long amount of time to figure out what you wanted to say. long, rambling sentences that sometimes didn’t even make it back to the beginning. it was who you were, it wasn’t something you could have helped if you wanted to.
one day, the two of you make a bet. for one whole day, you aren’t allowed to talk, and eddie isn’t allowed to use proper grammar. you think you might actually lose this one. talking is your trademark.
outer space is very quiet and stars make no noise and if you are a star, you are the sun, and you can make no noise. eddie is a star, too, though. he’s the falling star that you make wishes on, the second star to the right that peter pan and wendy darling flew away to, glowing evangeline that ray the firefly is in love with. you’re in love with eddie, but you don’t know it at the time. all you know is that there’s a bet you’re going to lose but you want to win.
somehow, you win, when eddie sends a text with two minutes to spare, using proper grammar. you bolt to his room, shouting at the top of your lungs, teasing and mocking while he buries his face in his pillow.
some days, you are quiet and cold. eddie doesn’t have many days where he is loud and burning. you usually have to do something really stupid and reckless to upset him. you can count on one hand how many times you’ve heard that accent. you try not to bring up the day of the marker mustache because that day led to an online chat you regret and a conversation at the docks you regret. you don’t regret the hug, though. you don’t regret the taxi ride back together.
some days, you just need to be alone. but being alone is never good for you. last time you were alone, you ended up in the hospital with a broken leg, because you didn’t want to bother your friends. last time you were alone, you skipped your classes and didn’t eat, and cried all over pennie, spilling your deepest and darkest secrets. you and alone do not get along well but sometimes you just need it. everybody needs it sometimes.
on days you spend alone, you are quiet but your thoughts are not. of all the fairy tale creatures to be a reincarnate of, you got stuck with an irritated hare that lost a race, and is intent on you losing everything you care about to make up for it.
on days you spend alone, you are cold but you are not. you’re a being that seems to be constantly warmer than others, always a few degrees higher than the rest. it might have something to do with the sun thing, maybe it is because you grew up in a desert, maybe it is because eddie is your soulmate and opposites attract and if he is cold, you have to be hot. it’s okay, you like being warm. on days you spend alone, you are cold in every sense except for your temperature. icy fingertips, chattering teeth, an empty black sky inside of you, biting and unforgiving.
stars make no noise. the universe ships stellar. constellations and meteorites and galaxies. you like to think the world orbits around you, much like planets do around the sun. you are the sun, aren’t you, in a lot of ways? nothing orbits around you, though, you aren’t worth that much. you can hardly keep your own life in control. what a mess you are, stella. pretend all you like that you’ve got your life together but it’s easy to see. you’re a fraying knot, a cracked frame, a door off its hinges. you are nothing, stella hines, you aren’t worth anything—
you know that isn’t true.
eddie is cold and eddie is quiet but he loves you.
pennie loves you, and aurora loves you, and jackson and nannie and parker, and your parents love you, yes even your mother despite your arguments. you are worth so much and there isn’t anything a stupid rabbit from a story written ages, written eons, ago can say that’ll make you think otherwise.
let all of your days alone try, let the darkness try. you dare it to pull you down, to hold you in its grasp. suffocating and heavy and stifling as it may be, there would always be a light to guide you back, to show you the way home, to eddie’s open and waiting arms, soft smiles and kind eyes and a gentle voice, sometimes whispering absentmindedly, sometimes singing, sometimes humming. always quiet, always cold, but he complements your noise and your heat, and you fit perfectly against his side, your hand slotted into his like a puzzle piece.
stars make no noise and while you always have something to say, you find you don’t mind the peaceful moments. sometimes they are on overcast days, with the pitter patter of raindrops lulling you to sleep. sometimes, it has just snowed, and the world is blanketed in silence. sometimes, everything feels muted because the clouds hang heavy in the sky and block out the sun.
there was a point. weren’t you making a point? there’s a violin playing and the quiet tinkling of glass and you realize you are holding your breath. why are you holding your breath? tears are gathered at the corners of your eyes and you blink to clear them. they run down your cheeks and you inhale, quietly silently shakily, dropping back into reality, finding yourself exactly where you were when you apparently left.
eddie is knelt before you, on one knee, and a ring glitters. stars make no noise just like you aren’t making any noise because you are shell (ha ha, wait until you tell him that one) shocked and your brain is so busy flashing back to the years of knowing him that you can’t speak. no is the correct answer because you cannot do this to him, you cannot let him live his life out with someone like you. no would break your heart and it would break his heart and it is not what you want to say. the hare is fidgeting in the back of your mind, a caged animal that you’ve gotten very good at ignoring. he is obviously not okay with this, wanting nothing to do with the tortoise, the creature the love of your life is stuck with. you’re both stuck, aren’t you?
yes finally makes it passed your filter, passed your walls. it breaks down the barrier of nerves and hesitation and uncertainty of the future. you love him, so much, and you want nothing more than to spend the rest of your life with him. the relief on his face, in the air, is palpable and your hands are shaking and his hands are shaking, but he slips the ring onto your finger, and you cry, tears pouring hot down your cheeks. there is cheering from the strangers around you but your focus is on eddie and his sea glass eyes and the smile you’ve got memorized and he pulls you in, arms wrapped tight around you. your hands are shaking and you are looking at the ring over his shoulder but it is nothing but a blur in front of your eyes, everything is bokeh lights like in the photos aurora likes best, and you can imagine your friends and their reactions now.
you know already nannie and aurora will cry, their ship is so far out at sea. andie will crack a joke, jackson will ruffle your hair, pennie will scream, and you’ll ask her eventually to be your maid of honor, and oh your mother. your mother loves eddie, she’ll be so happy, and your father, too, and there is so much happiness ahead of you. no amount of stress or days alone will ever take this moment away from you, nothing will ever tarnish this night.
i love you, he says, whispering into your hair, and it sends shivers down your spine.
i love you more, you say in turn, laughter in your voice.
i love you most, he challenges and, oh, is it on.