Sirius is Best Seen from the Peak of Mount Mee

By Aster Ren Kivy

It’s been three years since you last spoke, but when she shows up at your door with wet lines staining her red cheeks, you call in sick to work and climb into her passenger seat. 

Parked on the street across from your dorm is her dad’s Holden Rodeo, the tray barren and glinting into your eyes with the setting sun’s reflection. You’ve only been in his ute once before, on the way to her house for a sleepover in the early years of high school. He treats it like it’s another daughter. She’s hung an amethyst cord on the rear-view and her dad’s rosary sits in the glove box. You pretend not to notice it. 

You heard the news this morning. A text from your dad while you poured your cold brew, an innocent ‘is she okay?’, because three years ago you told him things between you and her were fine, and he had no reason to believe otherwise. You still haven’t texted him back. 

Her house is three hours north from your campus, one of the many excuses you’ve used to not keep in contact. Three songs play before she says anything. Her first word is ‘sorry’, and it leaves a bitter taste along your gums. “I’m a mess.” She has never looked anything other than pristine, and ensures it. She even sleeps in her makeup. You’ve seen it. “I didn’t know who else to…” 

To call, is what she means to say, because that’s what the line is supposed to be. But she hadn’t called. Not in three years, and not even now. You didn’t either.  

The windows are rolled down and the air is humid with the relentless summer. It flicks your hair across your face, and you wish the hair tie you usually have on your wrist hadn’t broken yesterday. She’s going 80 in a 70 when you finally reply. 

If she hears you, she doesn’t let it show. 

You pass by a First Choice and make a quick stop because it’s the night for it. You buy a six-pack of Hard Solo and avoid the Soju despite it being your favourite, because one time she drank too much of it and the taste of it coming back up still haunts her. 

She meets you at the register with a pack of Corona that you frown at. “Since when do you drink beer?” 

You pay for your own drinks, despite there being hundreds of dollars shared between you in lost transactions over meals and gifts and whatever else you came across. “Dad’s favourite.” Yes, you recall there being a permanent instalment of Coronas at her house whenever you’d go over. There was always a fresh six in her dad’s fridge, no matter how many times you’d catch him with one in his hand. “They’re absolute shit.” 

She drives three hours north before you lose track of where you are. Her playlist is filled with songs released in the three years you lost her. Songs you’ve never listened to together; songs that you knew she would love the moment you heard them, only to skip by them to get her out of your head. You take a little pride in knowing you were right. 

Her destination turns out to be the lookout point of a mountain, which she tells you the name of when you finally have the gall to ask. There are cows in the field below you, though they’re hard to see in the dark, and the city lights are but specks scattered across the horizon. It smells distinctly of weed, and there’s a gazebo with a carpark a few hundred metres to your right, but she parks the car on the grassy hill beside the road. 

You join her in the tray of the ute. The speakers are still playing her music. 

She chugs a bottle in one go and throws it over the edge, the soft thump of it on the grass followed by a steep roll. The fizz of it leaves her coughing, but when it all finally calms, she turns to you and says, “Good fucking riddance.” 

It’s been three years since you last saw her, and she still smiles the same way you remember. It takes her entire face to handle the weight of her smile, her cheeks puffing out to make room for her lips and her eyes curving to curl around her joy. You didn’t realise how much you missed seeing her smile until she’s looking right at you with her eyes gleaming in the moonlight.  

“You’re staring,” she says, and then she laughs. You’re back on the night before graduation, when you both snuck into the school at midnight just because you could. You’re back on the dewy grass of the oval under the blanket of stars, her body beside you, her fingers brushing your palm, her laughter echoing into the sky. 

You drink. She steals your Solos. You take a shot at the Corona, and hate it just as much as you did back in high school. The tray fits you both lying down, side by side, so you do just that, and it feels normal. You finally listen to the songs that remind you of her, and when the playlist loops back around, you sing along with her. 

She points out the constellations above you, because it’s been three years since you last looked at the stars, and when she tells you to look at the brightest one, you stare at her and wonder if she’ll laugh when she notices. She does. Then she takes your chin in her fingers and tilts your head up to appreciate Sirius in all its glory. The stars are nothing compared to her. You start to wonder why you ever thought she was something you could give up on. 

All the Solos eventually disappear, and you’re both fighting through the Coronas to make it worth the money when you feel her finger brush past the side of your palm. “Thank you.” 

You turn to look at her, your cheek pressing against your hair beneath you. She stares at the moon. “For what?” 

“For this. For just… being here. Wanting to be here still.” 

“I’ll always want to be with you. I’m sorry I didn’t show it.” You have the courage, now, to voice things you never even used to admit. You have half a mind to take her dad’s rosary from the glove box and throw it down with the empty beer bottle. “I missed you.” 

Her hand slips into yours, and it’s like no time has passed at all. You turn your eye to Sirius, even as you dare to squeeze her hand, her myriad of rings cold against your fingers. She calls your name in the dark like it’s something divine, and you brace for it. “Back in high school, were we… something?” 

It’s been three years since the last night under the stars, three years since you left for a campus too far away to be worth the drive, three years since you told yourself the distance wasn’t worth it, and you still don’t know the answer to that. “I don’t know.” You’ve had enough of your own excuses. “I wanted us to be.” 

Her breaths tremble in time with your staggering heartbeat. “I thought we were.” 

You’ve been disappointed dozens of times in your life, but none have been quite as agonising as hearing her sincerity. All the things you threw away come back to haunt you like shards from the one remaining beer smashed against the ute. How you yearned so desperately, for something that was already splayed out in front of you anyway. “What happened?” 

It’s her turn to tell you she doesn’t know. That time passed you by too quickly, and pride stole whatever between you was ever worth cherishing. 

You tell her you think it may finally be time to cast pride aside. She pushes up on her elbows to meet your eyes and asks you what you mean. 

You reach out and show her. 

It’s three in the morning, and you’re under the stars, and you’re lying next to her in the tray of her dad’s Holden Rover. It’s three in the morning, and you’re at the top of Mount Mee, and you were supposed to be asleep by now. It’s three in the morning, and Sirius looks upon you with a shine, and you’re kissing the girl you always wanted to kiss but never thought you were allowed to. 

She leans against you in the aftermath. With every flutter of her eyes, her lashes tickle your skin, and with every gasping pant, you breathe her in, the intoxication of jasmine and amber. When her cheeks flush red and her teardrops fall to your face, you feel them dance to your jaw and down your neck. Let them stain. 

It’s been three years since you last admitted you were in love with her, and three breaths since you last felt it. 

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