Chapter Five

Todd Billick, middle school astronomy teacher and generally despised human being, sat in his leather recliner in front of the television feeling something beginning to fester inside him. The longer he sat in front of the shouting flickering cube the more that horrid knot inside began to expand like a plague. He knew what was bothering him, but his knowledge didn’t bring him comfort.

Nothing did anymore.

He sat up from the confines of the chair, laboring as if some unseen force was holding him down. His bones ached, creaked and cracked, filling the empty home with the sounds of a miserable existence. The Voldo Comet would be here shortly. There was a time in his life where he actually would have cared, when such things actually filled him with joy. Now it was barely worth dragging his carcass out of the house to see.

Billick was well aware of all the students cursing his name as they worked on the essay he assigned them. This may have brought him an iota of joy as well. He was tired of everything, silently wishing to be swept away from his world.

Slowly the balding, impish teacher made his way to the hall closet where he kept his instruments of astronomy. He opened the closet door and was greeted by dust and unwelcome memories. Quickly he grabbed his telescope and closed the door behind him as if that would hold the ghosts of the past at bay. But they were free and pawing at his battered heart.

Billick refused to cry, besides there were no more tears to shed. His fingers caressed the cold brass of the telescope, creeping close to the engraving along its side. His footsteps echoed in the austere silence of the house. Those steps carried him over to the fireplace where the moziac mantle was littered with glimpses of his past.

Bordered in silver and black frames were pictures of him in happier times. In the photos he was actually smiling, an act that was so foreign to him now. Sharing space in the pictures with him was a tall blonde woman with a smile that could light up the night. Her eyes the deepest shade of ocean blue.

Staring at the pictures he remembered how he’d tell her that he’d pluck the stars from the sky just to see her smile. He remembered how her eyes sparkled when she replied ‘ then what will everyone else look at?’ he reminisced on the years they had together, laughs shared, the crying when cancer came for her, how bravely she fought, and he remembered the smell of the freshly fallen snow as it fell upon her tombstone.

That was ten years ago, the day when the part of him that was alive was buried in the same cold box. Now all he had was this empty house to remind him of how lonely he was. Nobody understood, how could they after all? Not to many people dared to get close to Billick.

With the Voldo Comet carving its path through space and the telescope carrying the words of the love of his life, he thought momentarily the sight may bring him some comfort. Bringing back a fragment of his beloved.

For the first time other than to go to work, Billick left the confines of his home. Left and started out towards the woods, or more accurately the cliffs.

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