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"Ready ... Set ... GO!" Claire hollered, sprinting toward her house as her best friend Jon took off after her.
Claire let her mind wander as the cool breeze washed over her. It was a nice change from the steamy classrooms behind her. Thoughts of many days spent splashing in puddles and grass wars after school with Jon came and went. The next thing she knew, the trees went spinning by in a blur as she tumbled off the sidewalk and slumped to a stop on the side of the road. Jon hurried back to where Claire lay in a tangled heap, and lightly suggested that they walk the rest of the way to her house. She gratefully agreed.
Above them, the first stars of the night had begun faintly to glow. Claire and Jon watched them for a time in awe. The stifling air clung to Claire's arms and legs, and the blood on her leg had dried and become all sticky. At Claire's house, they parted.
Later that night, Claire heard a sharp knock at the door. There, to her surprise, stood Jon.
"Hey, Claire," he greeted her softly. "You and me gotta talk."
She invited him in, a little puzzled at his timid voice. Closing the door, she collapsed beside him onto the plump, worn couch that he had chosen. "What's up?" she inquired lightly, attempting to lift his dismal mood.
"Claire, my dad got a job transfer. We're, uh ... that is ... we're moving. To Florida. Now listen, before, when we were walking home, do you remember the stars?"
Claire nodded numbly. Bits and pieces of the conversation floated back to her ...
"Hey Claire, did you ever wish on a star?"
"No, that's stupid. Wishes don't come true anyway."
As she glanced back at him now, hot tears glistened in his eyes. "Claire, I made a wish. I asked that you be brave when I leave tomorrow. Will you do that for me?"
She mumbled a barely distinguishable yes, and watched as Jon awkwardly stood up and ran out the door.
The next evening, as she watched his red minivan accelerate down the road, she memorized everything about the day - the sinking sun, the yellowing grass, the smell of burgers burning on the grill, and one brilliant star twinkling contentedly in the distance. Then, despite the tears burning in her watery eyes, she smiled. 1