Thank you, Kelley (check out a link to her blog below), for this beautiful word request! You can request words under the contact tab. Originally, I thought amaranthine was another way to say purple, and that is, indeed, true. However, amaranthine means so much more than that.
Immortality has always seemed like a pretty sad deal to me. You remain unchanged even as everything around you fades away. Amaranthine sounds a little wistful compared to words like immortal or deathless. Try as I might, I feel like I wrote the opposite of amaranthine: transience. However, I kept the word amaranthine just because of how much this piece grapples with the concept of permanence. I’m sorry for how long it is, but please enjoy!
Kelley’s Blog: A Resplendent Chaos
This is likely the only time I’ll come out and say this: This piece is a more fleshed out counterpart to Longanimity and a sequel to Insurmountable. Thank you.
All the Stars in the Sky
Amaranthine (adj): unfading, everlasting.
Jay knew his father no longer loved his mother the way he knew he would never be able to count all the stars in the sky.
He had always idolized his father as a child. It was painful to think about now, but once upon a time, he had believed that his father could do nothing wrong.
And then one day, he woke up and realized that everything he thought belonged to him was never actually his in the first place.
How did people fall out of love?
It didn’t make sense.
How could you just stop caring about someone who cared so much for you?
Would his mom stop loving him one day?
Had his dad already stopped?
And if so, was it his fault?
Was it because he hadn’t been good enough?
Is that why his dad had-?
Angrily, Jay wiped away at his misty eyes.
The world became black and white, colors and sounds muted beyond recognition.
Maybe his father had never loved his mother. Maybe Jay had always known, just like he had always known he would never be able to enumerate all the lights in the sky.
There was no dramatic screaming match. No over-the-top altercation where he was forced to chose between his parents.
An unceasing lull, still enough that he could hear his mother’s sobs when she thought nobody was listening.
When they left, his father didn’t say anything.
No goodbye. No apology. No excuses. Nothing.
And disgusted, Jay wondered if his father had always been this man, or if he had woken up one day as him, like Jay had woken up one day to a living nightmare.
His grandmother owned a piano shoppe. The kind spelled with two ‘p’s and had an ‘e’ on the end.
It was never quiet. There was an unending stream of monotonous song as his grandmother guided clumsy fingers into elegant perfection.
His mother seemed happier.
Happy enough to card her fingers through his hair and tell him that they were still a family without that person. Happy enough to start acting like everything was back to normal.
But not happy enough to stop crying in the middle of the night.
His father had betrayed them, Jay realized one morning as he lay on his back, trying to number the stars before they disappeared in daylight.
And things were never going to be the same again.
His grandmother started giving him lessons on the piano. It was a world like his vision: black and white.
It was numbing. If he started playing in anger, he ended up so absorbed in the notes, his feelings vanished somewhere along the way. If he started playing in sorrow, those feelings, too, were left behind somewhere between the monochromatic keys.
Jay wondered what things were truly permanent. How did you know what was going to stay and what was going to leave you behind? How could you ever trust—
The bell rang, signifying a customer had entered the store.
It was a girl.
She smelled like wet dog.
“Sorry,” she whispered sheepishly.
Had he said that out loud?
Their eyes met.
Hers were periwinkle, like the pale light at dusk before the stars appeared.
He felt embarrassed, but didn’t know why.
She sat beside him on the piano bench. The puppy she had brought with her was sleeping beside the furnace, curled up in a clean, fluffy slipper. The sight was surprisingly cute.
In front of them was Rachmaninov’s arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty Waltz.
They started playing together, at first horribly out of sync. But they never stopped playing, and slowly, they started matching each other.
For the first time since Jay started playing, the music was drenched in color.
How could someone be so expressive?
The notes pierced through his black and white world, and suddenly, things were flooded with hues and values he had never truly seen before.
Mechanical precision had nothing on this blooming mess of feeling and sound.
It was too much.
But it was amazingly fun. Head-spinning, dizzying, breath-taking fun.
They were racing each other, tripping over each other, helping each other up, pulling each other down, playing in and out of sync, speeding up, slowing down.
Somehow, this creative train wreck elicited a laugh from him. His laugh drew out a laugh from her.
And then they were laughing so hard together, it was almost impossible to continue.
It took five minutes to stop, and even then, the air between them was fizzing, so they knew if the other even cracked a smile, they would be gone again.
Clearing his throat, Jay introduced himself.
The girl followed.
His grandmother started giving her piano lessons on Tuesdays and Thursdays after school. She would usually stay after her lesson so they could do homework together. Then, his mother would convince her to stay for supper with all of them (Em was pretty bad at saying no).
After dinner, he’d walk her back home.
It was a large house, but it always felt a little aloof. Like a show piece rather than a home.
They’d say goodbye, and he’d watch as she let herself in.
It was no wonder to him that she always stayed till dinner.
It seemed terribly lonely in there.
Jay knew nothing lasted forever, but he desperately wanted this to be different.
They weren’t dating, but best friends.
It was enough for him.
He wasn’t ready for all the promises love entailed.
It was enough that he could laugh and joke around with someone.
Enough that he could play music with someone.
Enough that he could talk about anything and everything under the sun with someone.
Enough that he could lie on his back on the dewy grass and try to name all of the stars with someone.
But it wasn’t just someone. It was Emilia.
He didn’t want to hope for anything more because he couldn’t stand being betrayed by anyone ever again.
But that didn’t stop the subconscious thoughts about her. About being with her.
It was impossible to count all of the stars in the sky.
But that had never stopped him from trying as a child.
Lying on his back, his vision flooded with all the brilliance of the luminescent pinpricks in the darkness.
Things didn’t last forever.
They were like sand castles on the beach. Dissolving away even as they were built. Slipping away faster the tighter they were held on to.
But that’s the beauty in them, Em had said when he told her.
That was the last conversation he remembered having with her before the fall, and at the time, he still hadn’t understood what she meant.
After the fall, he thought everything would go back to being black and white. Hadn’t she betrayed him too?
But it was different.
It had been like a wake-up call.
He loved her.
He realized that now.
Thank all the stars in the sky it hadn’t been too late.
You have to treasure what you have because you don’t know how long it’s going to last.
He finally understood.
Things didn’t have to last forever to be beautiful.
Because the memories and the moments and the music would be enough to sustain him a life time.
When she finally woke up and smiled at him, he didn’t say anything.
He just kissed her.