I handed in all my finished assignments that week with pride. I had stayed every lunch hour in the library and after school as well to finish all my homework before I went home. The longer I was in public, the more reason I had to stay awake. I knew that if I went home and tried to do my homework there, I would had ended up giving up on it as soon as I had gotten stuck and took a nap, attempting to find the young man in my dream.
He had not been showing at all in my dreams since I saw him on Wednesday morning. I had taken many naps in hopes of seeing him again, but had failed. When I returned home that night at five thirty, I took a bowl of macaroni up to my room instead of sitting at the table. As soon as I finished, I left the bowl on the carpet floor and laid down on my bed to try and go to sleep. Not just because I wanted to dream, but because I was actually really tired.
"Where have you been?" He asked me the question first.
"I might ask you the same question. I've been looking all over," I replied.
"I've been on this asteroid the whole time," He said simply, stretching his arms. I floated down beside him and felt my feet touch the strange ground of the huge rock.
"There are millions of them. You're in the asteroid belt!" I said.
"Yes, well maybe it would be easier if I waited on something in the Oort cloud for you to come find me." He laughed. I smiled too. I knew what he was talking about because I actually listened during astronomy in science. The Oort cloud was a sphere of countless icy objects surrounding the solar system. The Asteroid belt didn't sound as bad now.
"What's your name?" He suddenly asked. I was surprised, but that was the exact question that I was dying to ask him.
"Esther- well. People call me Ember."
"Is it because of your eyes?" He asked casually. I was impressed by how quick he was.
"I would describe them as suns," He said. I was happy to hear such a different opinion on the appearance of my eyes. "Do people just call you Ember because it is a little easier to roll off the tongue than Esther?" He asked rather suddenly. I shrugged, not knowing how to answer a quick, witty question like that the same way.
"I guess," I replied.
"Do you like the name Ember?" He asked as he jumped up from the Asteroid and did a little twirl in the air. I watched him as I thought of all the people back in the waking world that called me that.
"No," I say as he lands back on the asteroid with a small cloud of dust.
"Then I won't call you that," He said simply.
"Then what will you call me?" I ask. He considered this for a moment.
"Something to do with that." He pointed at the big sun that sat at the center of their current orbit. "I'd need to think about it though."
"What's your name?" I ask. He looks at me with an unreadable expression, his short ,dark hair floating in the none existent gravity.
"I don't know," He finally replied.
"You don't know your name?" I asked, astonished.
"Nope," He said as he returned his gaze back to the sun. "Forgot it." I didn't know what to say, so we just sat there in a silence for a moment. "Why don't you think one up for me? We can share them at our next visit. You're alarms is about to go off..."
"What?" I asked, dumbfounded.
The marimba tone blasted in my ears from my phone that sat right next to my head. I was awake once again. But at least I had something different to do than day dreaming. Though it was a person that I didn't know was real, I felt like I had a purpose when I returned to the thoughts in the back of my mind... A name... What should I call this person, that strangely meant so much to me.
It had to do something with astronomy. What could possibly be more fitting for a person that would only appear in the solar system. I focused on this very hard throughout the day. A good, strong name that rolled off the tongue well that had to do with astronomy. It took me about fifteen minutes of focusing until I realized there was nothing there. I knew basically nothing about space. Sure I knew the planets and a few other celestial objects in the solar system, but that was basic.
At lunch I found myself in the computer lab, searching names on google, trying to find something that jumped out at me, but nothing did. I eventually gave up and began pulling every book I could find about astronomy off the shelf. I must had been creating a scene because the librarian, who was seeming a little concerned at how I was man handling her books came over.
"Excuse me," I heard her speak in the most polite voice she could muster. I looked up at her briefly from the cover of the last book that I had just pulled off the shelf. It was a copy of a book written by a man named Carl Sagan called: Cosmos. I had heard about Sagan before. He was a famous scientist for all I knew.
"Yeah?" I asked, more concerned about reading the back cover.
"Is- umm...- Is there anything I could help you with?" She asked.
"Yeah, could I sign this out?" I said, probably sounding a little rude, but I didn't care.
"Yes... of course,"
I didn't need her permission to sign the book out. I already knew how to on the computer, I just wanted an excuse to be able to leave the conversation. I knew that she was about to try and give me a talk on using a shelf mark whenever I took a book off the shelf, which I had completely forgotten about doing. Probably just shoved the books back to the biggest gap on the shelf. Feeling a little guilty as I walked out of the library with Cosmos in my arms, I headed in the direction of my last block class, Socials.
I wondered how many days we would be talking about the Apollo missions. Don't get me wrong, it was fascinating the first few days, but now we were getting in to the part where we would have to study independently. This only meant there was a test coming up. There was nothing worse than a socials test, no matter what it was on.
Today we got a big booklet of work to help us study. I wasted no time in dawdling through the pages, I immediately began zooming through the questions as fast as I could. Why? I wanted to read my book. I had already finished the first chapter before my teacher noticed my booklet closed on my desk with my dull pencil sitting on top.
"Are you going to start, Esther?" He asked quietly for the benefit of the working students around us.
"Oh, already done, sir," I said simply as I flipped the page and began reading the second chapter. I felt him hesitate as he stood at the end of my desk, but then he eventually slid away.
The bell went and I slung my backpack off my chair and onto my shoulders. I had packed up my locker for the weekend before hand so I didn't have to walk all the way back before I left, not wanting to waste time in these halls.
I wandered home, taking a little longer than I usually would since trying to read and walk at the same time slows your pace a little. But I was getting into a part of the book that was sort of like a history lesson. It was explaining all the best astronomers and scientists, their importance and how some of their stories tied together. Really, it was almost like a socials class, but for some reason that I couldn't put my finger on, it was much, much better.
Maybe I had homework, I didn't care. My excuse was- well it wasn't much of a valid excuse- but I couldn't tear my eyes away from the words upon the lines. I laid in my room for hours on end, ignoring my growling stomach. Anything I did I had one eye on the next words in the book. But as the hours slipped away from me, I felt myself fading away...
"There you are," I heard his voice speak from behind me. The both of us now floated high above the moon.
"What?" I suddenly said, dumbfounded.
"What?" He asked as well.
"I'm dreaming?" I say.
"I suppose so..." He frowned. I could have sworn I hadn't fallen asleep. "Did you find a name?" He asked. I looked at him, suddenly remembering what I had been doing before I accidentally nodded off. The answer to his question was no. No, I had not found a name. Maybe I could have if I could have stayed awake a little long. That was strange, I hadn't wished to stay awake for a long while.
"No, eh?" He must had seen the look on my face. "No fret. But I've got a name for you. Want to hear?" I looked at him with a new eagerness, nodding. "Nimbus..." He took in my expression. "If you don't like it I can think of something else..."
"No, no!" I say, realizing that my expression was probably pretty empty, "It's good. But- but what does it mean?" I was truly curious to know why he picked this specific word.
"It means light, glory, beauty, radiance. I did not choose this word just because of your eyes, but your entire figure. But not only that, your soul, its good, I can tell."
How cliche. But it made me feel good. Mostly because someone had commented on something other than my body. Not my mind, not my personality, but my soul... Nimbus... I liked it even more now.
I smiled at the strange compliment and suddenly felt a pang of guilt for not finding a name for him in time.