A Story by Rebecca Davis

The stars have their own lives



Polaris walked hesitantly through the doors of The Hubble.  He had been in this bar a few times before, but it still made him nervous.  All of the looks made him uncomfortable, and even though he had been the center of attention for a while it never seemed to get any easier.  He was the local celebrity, and no one let him forget it.  The smiles.  The waves.  The posing for pictures.  He knew he was important, knew that was why he got the attention, knew it was for a job well done.  

When he was younger he lived for that attention, thrived on it even.  Not anymore.  Polaris was getting tired.  It was this fatigue, this longing for a place to rest for a minute, a place to relax, that brought him to The Hubble.  He entered the small bar and scanned the room.  There were several that he knew, several he had spoken to before.  Achenar Eridanus was sitting at a table with Mira Cetus.  They were on a date.  Had to be.  Mira was looking more radiant than Polaris had ever seen her.  Polaris had gone out with Mira a few times, but she had never dressed that nicely for him.  In fact, Polaris always seemed to have trouble with relationships.  He assumed that it was his power, his responsibility, that scared them away.

Polaris looked around.  The place was not crowded.  Still most in the room had taken note of his arrival.  Some were still looking his way.  He turned his attention to the bar.  One lonely individual, old and exhausted, was slumped against the bar, head down, and looking at nothing particularly.  He took a drag of a cigarette as he lifted the glass from the polished wood of the bar.  He brought the glass to his lips as he exhaled the smoke.  Some of it lingered in the glass until a second exhale through the old man’s nose quickly made it disperse.  The man drank.  It was an amber liquid, served straight.  Polaris knew it had to be strong, but the man made no wince or grimace as the sip trickled smoothly down his throat.  He set the glass back down, playing with it, turning it a few times, before letting it rest.  Polaris was fascinated.

He had never seen this man before, or even if he had he could not remember.  The man was faint, but not in the way that others Polaris knew were.  Polaris could see the remains of power.  This man had been great once.  Perhaps even greater than Polaris himself.  Polaris walked over to the man.

“Do you mind if I sit here,” Polaris said, gesturing to the bar stool beside the man.  The man turned, but did not make eye contact.  He kept his gaze at bar level.

“No,” the man replied.  “Go right ahead.”

Polaris sat and turned to the man.  “I’m"“ 

“I know you, Polaris,” the man said.  “There’s none of us alive that doesn’t.”

Polaris did not know what to say.  The silence drew out, and Polaris was eager to find something, anything, to discuss.  

Polaris decided on, “I’m sorry.  I’m afraid I don’t know who you are.”  

The man finally turned and looked at Polaris, squinting a little at the younger man’s brightness.

“My name is Thuban.”  And Polaris immediately felt ashamed.  

He should have known.  He should have addressed the old man with more respect, more admiration.  This man was Polaris’s predecessor.  He had occupied the same position Polaris currently held.  Polaris had spent thousands of years listening to stories about Thuban and his great works.  Thuban had been a guide for the masses, and he had taken up that role without complaint or hesitation.  He had been strong and brilliant and unwavering.  Praised by all and even worshipped by some.  Thuban had saved lives, had shown the correct path to the lost.  Thuban was a legend, or, at least, had been.

Now, not many knew Thuban’s name or the work that he had done.  And Polaris could tell that the years had worn on him.  He had lost much of his brilliance.  Now Thuban could blend in with a bar crowd without any notice.  Polaris felt sorry for him.

“I’m sorry.  I should have known,” said Polaris.  “When I was younger you were a hero of mine.  I always wanted to be like you.”

“And now that you are what do you think of it,” said Thuban with a chuckle.

“I think it is exhausting,” Polaris said.

Thuban’s glance intensified.  It wasn’t aggressive exactly, just strong and serious.  

“Never complain about the task assigned to you, Polaris.  It is hard, yes.  Even grueling at times.  To know just how many rely on you being there at all times, ever vigilant.  But there is no greater honor in these skies.  You are not the brightest, son.  Not by a long shot.  But others are shallow and serve no other purpose than to shine beautifully.  Yours is the most unique job, and it will not always be yours, so do it the best you can while you have it.”

It was at this moment that Polaris realized that the old man’s fire was still there.  It had just been lying dormant, much like the mythical dragons that Thuban had been named after.  He was worthy of his legend, and Polaris thought he deserved more than to waste away in some hole in the wall.

Polaris asked, “Do none of them know who you are?”

Thuban looked around slowly and deliberately at the others in the bar.  He took another sip of his drink and pulled another cigarette from his pack.  He lit it and inhaled slowly, tasting the smoke.  Savoring it.  It wasn’t until after his equally slow exhale that he spoke.

“Some do.  Some like you, who sit down beside me on a whim.  Or out of pity.”

Polaris felt worse now, and he could tell Thuban knew.  

“Don’t worry about me, Polaris,” Thuban said.  “If I can tell you anything it’s this: I have no regrets.  I have led a proud life.  An epic life.  It is just the way of things.  I had to step aside eventually to let another lead that same life.  Live it to the fullest, Polaris.  I will be here for you as long as I can.  After all, even the guide needs a guide every once in a while.”

Polaris nodded and shook Thuban’s hand.  

“I should go,” Polaris said.  “I can’t be gone too long.”

With that, Polaris stood and nodded at Thuban once more.  He exited The Hubble.  On the ground outside was a slightly torn newspaper.  Polaris glanced at it.  The headline on the cover was about an up and coming star named Vega.  Perhaps that is who will replace me, thought Polaris.  Perhaps in two thousand years or so, I will be the one sitting at the bar by myself.  

Polaris was partially right.  Two thousand years later Vega walked into The Hubble.  Most of the people in the bar took notice at her arrival, except for two men sitting at the bar, drinking an amber liquid straight, chatting quietly to each other, and chuckling. 

Rebecca Davis

© 2014 Rebecca Davis

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This is really interesting! I would love to read more.

Posted 9 Years Ago

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Added on September 10, 2014
Last Updated on September 10, 2014
Tags: fantasy, fiction, anthropomorphism, science-fiction, bar, drinking, noir


Rebecca Davis
Rebecca Davis

Travelers Rest, SC

RSoA Ch. 1 RSoA Ch. 1

A Chapter by Rebecca Davis