The Big Dipper, by Kathleen Radigan

Sixteen-year-old Radigan loves swinging on swings, absurdities, and writing obsessively.

I knew you were special the night you showed me the Big Dipper.

“See that one right there?” you pointed straight out. The summer sky expanded around us, swimming with constellations like a bowl of alphabet soup that had been arranged without order or meaning.

“The Big Dipper?” I asked.

“The Big Dick,” you replied confidently. “And that over there is the Little Dick.”

A giggle slipped through my steely-faced glare. “You’re telling me those stars look like a penis?  Is this how you woo all your women?”

“Nah,” you said, “just the important ones.”

The grassy ground was beginning to bore into my neck, but I didn’t dare shift positions. I couldn’t look at you either, the shadow outlines of your skinny arms and legs against the blue-gray smokescreen, or the smirk undoubtedly finding its way to your face. Crawling on like a caterpillar. You were repugnant, and also fascinating.

You cleared your throat. “Now that formation over there is called the Scrotum in the Sky. See the resemblance?”

I watched you trace the arrangement of stars with one finger. You alone could detect these unseen orchestrations of the universe, eloquently perverting constellations one by one until it seemed that every one of them had been designed by a cheap adult film producer.

“You are disgusting,” I said, after you pointed to what was hiding beneath Orion’s Belt.

I felt you shrug, shaking the atmosphere. Somewhere far away a new star was born.

“We’re still allowed to be kids. You know that, right? You’ll have like 80 years to be mature. Why start now?”

I kissed you then, under the azure acreage of private parts. We kissed like children kiss, as if nothing bigger exists.

That summer we adopted a Chia Pet son and named him Monty. We nurtured him, letting his hair grow in thick and piercingly green. Monty rested in the brown spots on pool decks where water splashed, as screen doors buzzed open and closed in neighboring houses. He grew as we grew, remaining vital through the burnt orange plane of summer. Moments our knees touched, the sweaty and electrifying energy. Awkward finger-lacings, and the times we watched fireworks go off from our perch in the shoddy old treehouse.

When Monty withered, so did we. It was inevitable, not sad: the playground swings were squeaking quieter, department stores advertised back-to-school sales, and the weeds that poked through the cracks in sidewalks turned brown and weightless.

Years later, in phases of relationships called Sharing A Razor and Communicating The Problem, I’ve thought about you and about our once-beloved Monty. There have been plenty of other lovers, plenty of men with whom I’ve paused to look up at stars, but you were the last one who really saw them.

We looked at the sky like children do, as if nothing bigger exists.

Post to Twitter