When You Kiss Me Goodnight

By Madeline Slogoff, age 10
When You Kiss Me Goodnight Maddie Slogoff is a ten-year-old girl who lives in New York. She loves to write, play soccer and tennis, do home designs, do DIY projects, and read. She usually writes realistic fiction, but writes paranormal at times. In her free time, she hangs out with her friends. Maddie has a twelve-year-old sister named Alexandra. She unfortunately has no pets, but with bribery, she may get a fish. Read her books, because you are in for a surprise.

“The stars stare back at me. My eyes tightly shut. No dreams this time. I wake up for real. I am in a dark hole. Wood outside is around me. I start to bang on it. Nobody opens it. I scream, loud.”

Autumn

Oh, that soft little kiss goodnight when I was young. Daddy was taller than that mobile of butterflies that hung above my crib. He used to kiss me goodnight. Something so long ago, yet so dear to my heart. That soft, sour kiss. Lips pressed against my tiny cheek. But, we all know, that is taken away. Fast forward to today, sitting in my room, staring at that mobile.  Now hanging over nothing. My bed moved to the other side of the room, a distant memory, easily remembered.

 

Dad

My sweet daughter, Autumn Starlight. One remarkable girl. Ever since Autumn was born, we knew she was special. She had turqouise-blue eyes with tints of green that turned gray when she was sad, and brown hair with auburn highlights. She never cried. When she came into this world, not a tear in sight. My dear Autumn crawled on the floor, pounding on the door until I let her out. But Autumn had a problem. As she got older and older, she never talked. She wouldn’t say a word. This was until she was 8 years old.  Her mother and I prayed every night for our sweet girl, Autumn Starlight, until her mother died when our dear Autumn was 6.

 

Autumn

When daddy and I were younger, I could fly. He lifted me up into the sorrowful air and swayed me around. Like a baby duck experimenting his swimming abilities. Daddy called me cupcake when I was little because I was a little angel. Tiny pink dresses and cute light brown curls, a mini angel for my daddy. Just he and I and the world to take on. The mobile, what brought us together. I smiled when he hit his head on the mobile and hiccuped when he tickled me. Me, his sweet daughter, Autumn Starlight.

 

Dad

Our sweet girl, Autumn, was sad one day. I patted her on the back and cradled her perfect, fragile body in our arms. She did not cry, not a peep. I pondered what was wrong.  She turned over, and I noticed that she had stapled a perfect star onto her leg. We rushed her to the hospital. When we got there, she was gushing blood, and she was paler than usual. It just made her more of our little angel. The nurses took out the staples and gave her a few bandaids on her leg. They said that she was one special little girl because she didn’t cry. They said she was a beautiful little angel, and I agreed. They said she was put on this Earth for a reason. 4 pulled muscles, 12 stitches, and a sprained ankle.  The sweet smell of cherry blossoms wafting from her tiny body. So perfect, yes, so perfect, our sweet daughter. Yes, she was put on this Earth for a reason, and if she was not here today, there would be a missing piece every day. She took my breath away. Autumn Starlight.

 

Autumn

When I was a little girl, I hated fairies. I hated princesses. I was always drawn to the beautiful stars.  An extravagant party for the night sky. The stars. I never had a big backyard.  It felt like I lived in a neighborhood where the houses are very close together. That old, rugged fence, seeming hundreds of years old, falling down, breaking, chipping, and swinging.  Me and daddy use the yard as our little star lab.  Our secret, what has brought us together.  Tonight, we lay on the grass, watch the sun escape underground to prepare for it’s welcoming the next day. The moon arrives to the star’s party and made its way to the center of all of them.  A beautiful, long, thin crescent moon. We keep our telescope on the edge of the porch and stargaze on the most beautiful nights. But the most beautiful thing that I have ever seen through that little breath-taking object, was Saturn. I almost cried that night, for the first time. But I didn’t cry. As the stars move east with late night clouds, I see my butterfly mobile.  The stars, twinkling like that dear butterfly mobile.

 

Dad

When we left the hospital that day, her cast was tightly wrapped around her leg. One of the nurses wrote, “Most beautiful child I have ever seen.” Another wrote, “Do me a favor, and call her star chaser. One remarkable, but mysterious girl.” Autumn’s smile lit up a room, in fact, better lighting then a 2,000 watt light bulb. And that tiny bundle of joy came with many unexpected problems. Autumn and I have a small secret that we have never told anyone. When she was born, she had a beautiful birthmark shaped like a star. It was on her back, almost at her shoulder, but as her beautiful brown hair grew out, our little Autumn’s beautiful birthmark was not seen.  It was what made her different, what separated her from the rest of us. Autumn realized at one point in her life that it was okay to be different and that different people were special. We all knew that Autumn was not going to be the popular kid when she was born, but we knew she was going to be one special little girl. I cried for my dear Autumn, the only person that has ever made me cry. That salty discharge, for a beautiful, blossoming little girl.

 

Autumn

I never had any siblings. I begged and begged. But at one point, something changed.  When I first saw the stars and understood what they were in 5th grade, my whole perspective of life was completely blown away. The stars felt like my family, a distant relationship. I threw that sibling thing out the window in the snap of a finger. The stars were my siblings. When I started to see some of the same stars each night, I named them, like my mother would have. One was June, another was August, and the last was Summer.  Summer always felt like my closest sister. She seemed to be around my age, loved the stars, was a fangirl of Echosmith.  Echosmith’s music blew me away when I first heard it on the radio. I tapped to the rhythm onto the railing of the deck as daddy and I star gazed.  

 

Dad

Autumn always surprised us, something new each and every day. She broke my heart into a million pieces and then mended it again. Today. Here I am. Sitting at my desk, staring into space and remembering those times when I would stand up in front of the crib and kiss Autumn goodnight, and when I came up, I hit my head, and Autumn and I would have a laughing fit. I tickled her around in her crib, wrestling her tiny body. Today, Autumn tells me to leave her alone. Although Autumn is still my beautiful little girl, she is 5 foot 4 inches and not a baby anymore. I miss those times. I knock on the door to her room. She yells at me, but I proceed to open the door. One big Echosmith posters hangs above her bed, and she is sitting in her beanbag chair, listening to music through headphones. I look up above me, and I see something that I have never seen before.

 

Autumn

Sitting in my room today, I lift up the bottom of my ripped jeans and stare at the scar in my leg that I had when I was little. I think about my daddy and how lonely he must feel without my love. I let that thought drain out of my brain, like extra water from a shower.  As I lift my head up to stretch my back, my head turns to the mobile. I walk over from my beanbag chair, which settles back into it’s normal shape. I touch that beautiful mobile, and it takes a small spin. The butterflies whirl around in a circle, chasing each other. This is when my dad knocks on the door. Sigh. I was remembering those times with the mobile.  I get back to my beanbag chair and put the headphones in my ears, still staring at the beautiful piece that brought us together.

 

Dad

That very ceiling was one to remember. My dear Autumn has colored the ceiling navy blue and had drawn yellow-white stars. It was breath-taking. A very touching and unforgettable moment in my life. I could not remember something as remarkable as this. As soon as I looked down from the masterpiece, she rolled her eyes at me. The next day, I drove dear Autumn to school, and dropped her off in the staff parking lot, as always. She hung out with the physics teacher for an hour before school each day and drank coffee. They talk about the stars, and the different patterns that are coming. Mr. Edelman.  He was my daughter’s happiness. Her heart and soul. The end of her heart.

 

Autumn

Dad drops me off in the staff parking lot. I always get dropped off in the staff parking lot to talk with Mr. Edelman. I walked out to the middle of the parking lot. All of a sudden, it starts to rain. I am far from the school. Not just a small rain, pouring. I look, and that’s when it comes down. It’s bright, and yellow. Weirdly shaped. It’s coming down fast. I pull my head down and take a jump, but it does not save me. It zigs and hits me. That is all that I remember before it was all black. I can hear the buzzing of their voices in the back of my head and it gives me a headache.  Buzz.  Buzz.

 

Dad

As soon as I am down the road from the school, rain starts to pour down really hard. I get to the house and sit down at the kitchen table. I begin to drink coffee. The warmth of the brown liquid fogs on my face. I lean forwards for a sip. Before a droplet of coffee hits my tongue, the phone starts ringing. I don’t even listen to the caller ID, I just run for the phone. I pick it up.  

“Hello? Who is this?” I ask, sipping coffee and running upstairs at the same time to put on my pajamas. Have I mentioned that I love rainy days? They make me feel so comfortable and cozy.

“This is the school, calling about your daughter, Autumn Starlight. Unfortunately, We think that she is dead. Mr. Edelman was waiting in the staff lounge, that looks over the staff parking lot, and watched her come in. He said she was struck by lightning,” the woman on the other side of the phone said.  Nicely, but I don’t know how you can just say something like this to someone.  It dawned on me: I needed to get her.

“I will be there right now!” I say, my voice teary with anger and sadness combined.  I call 911 while I am in the car. In all of this action, I find a way to calm down.  I think about our memories. But, that just makes me cry even more.

 

Autumn

I had no idea what was going on. All that I knew was that I was dead. I felt as if I was floating. I was looking down below me, my body sitting in the middle of that parking lot. All of a sudden, stuff starts falling down from the sky in slow motion. My cat, Scribbles is falling, waving goodbye to me. When it gets to the ground—there is no ground, it just keeps going on and on for forever. My stuffed bear named Lovely falls next to my journal from sixth grade. I turn around to see what is falling on the other side of me. That butterfly mobile is falling. Everything is still in it’s place in real life, but a photocopy is falling for me. All, except that butterfly mobile. The paint is chipped in the same places.  And one tiny star, falling below. A real one.

 

Dad

The ambulance comes and picks her up and puts her in the back of the truck. They drive at the speed of lighting, like that terrible lightning bolt that hit my now dead daughter. I follow them close behind in my VW bug. Autumn loves it because she thinks that it is so old-fashioned compared to the fancy cars they have today. The siren sounds as I but down the road, seeming like I’m on a car chase, chasing the ambulance. I come to a stop at the hospital. Two middle-aged women run out of the door holding a stretcher. Four men pull her from out of the back of the truck. The doctor checks her heart rate as everyone runs inside, holding the stretcher. I follow them up to room 437. Weird, it was the same as the beginning of Autumn’s locker combination. She lays in a bed, machines hooked up to her body. IV’s are stuck into her arm, taking blood, and doctor’s mumbling words back and forth to each other. They will not even let me into the room to check in on her. I take peeks while the doctor’s are out seeing other patients. It pains me to see my daughter in pain. The doctor’s walk out of the room, some wearing scrubs, and some wearing white coats. They come over to the chair that I am sitting in.

“Well, we have some news.” A doctor grits his teeth.

 

Autumn

In this weird world that I am in, I do not wake up. No reality checks, no wake up calls.  What a dumbo I am. I’m dead! How did I not know.  My body still lies in the parking lot of Glenville High. In Little, California. Where am I now? Am I in Oklahoma? My heart will always stay with Little. Are my intestines in Waco, Texas? Is my fifth rib in Knoxing, Oklahoma? Is my ankle bone in New York City, NY? Is my gold specked eye in Orlando, Florida? The questions can go on and on forever. But, I will always know where my heart and soul is, in Little, California, my sleepy town, beautiful victorian homes, and lovely from sunrise to sunset.  

 

Dad

“Your daughter is dead. I am so sorry for your loss. We tried our best to save her, sir,”  the doctors reported, sadly.

This brought me to my knees. I wept on a black leather jacket. Oh, well, for the second time in my life? The first, my wife. Why was I alive now? Somebody else should have to experience this death. Why me? Why me, God? My sweet daughter cannot be dead! Autumn Starlight, up in the sky, I say to you right now, I love you like you could never imagine. You have always been there for me in my dark times, and helped me through hard places. We have had so many memories together, laughs, cries, nights in, laughing fits, renovating our house, and many more times that I may never forget for my the rest of my life, and when I am dead, too. When I die, we will be together again. I hope that you and your mom have reunited up there. I miss you more than to the moon, to the stars, back, and back to the moon 50 million times. You have truly amazed me. I walk into the room where Autumn lies dead.  Her eyelashes drooping below her under-eye.  Machines beeping and buzzing.  No sign of life.

 

Autumn

Here in heaven, I look for mom. There are no shops, though I secretly wish that is was a mall. A butterfly mobile hangs above my head everywhere that I walk. All I can see for miles and miles is treeless plains with road signs. The song “Home” by Phillip Phillips plays over and over in my head. No cars pass, no noise. That is when I see a lady. She is petite, but cute. She had long brown hair with auburn highlights, and turqouise-blue eyes with tints of green, just like mine. She held her head up high, wearing a salmon-colored tunic and khaki pants. She had salmon colored Ked’s, and finished it off with a pair of diamond earrings. Mom. It just felt like a relationship from long ago. Something that I could just feel, felt right.

“What’s your name?” I casually strolled over to this mother-option. If she was really my mom, her name would be Summer Starlight.

“Summer Starlight.  Some people call me Sum.” I almost died. Again.

“I think I might be your daughter. I’m Autumn Starlight, and I recently died,” I say to her. Her cheeks turn bright red.

“Y-you can speak! You’re my daughter! The missing piece of me.” She grabbed me in for a hug. I never wanted to stop. I tried to let go once, but she just kept hugging, so I put my arms back around her.

 

Dad

Today was the funeral. I put a copy of the butterfly mobile into her coffin. Everybody wore black, her friends, her family, her closest teachers. Everyone sat there, sad. This was in fact, the biggest loss that I have ever had in my life. The priest said many words. It was time to let people come up and say what they would never forget about her. First was her group of friends, Evangelia, MIchelle, Adaline, Elle.  

“We will never forget Autumn.  She was a one in a million girl.  She was funny, sweet, and held us together like glue when we were falling apart. Thank you.” They began to cry. Many more came up, saying wonderful things about her that she would love to hear. When it was my turn to come up to the microphone, I wiped away my tears and began to speak.

“Autumn Starlight was one amazing girl, she took my breath away and then brought it back to me. She broke my heart into a million pieces and then mended it again. I cannot be any more proud of one person the I am of my very own daughter. I love her so much, and she is one girl to never forget. She was hilarious, beautiful, kind and was drawn to the stars, her siblings. Thank you.” There are many gasps in the crowd. People blowing their noses, some just crying into other’s shoulders.

 

Autumn

I could not believe that this was my mother. But after that, she just walked away.  Walked down the street, passed lampposts, passed a wishing fountain and tossed a few coins in. I called her name, yelled and yelled until she was not insight. My mother had just left me.  I just felt so overwhelmed. I looked above my head where the butterfly mobile hang. I sit down on a big rock at the top of a hill. It sits under a prematurely blossomed cherry tree,  I flashback to a happy time.

I hear my dad calling my name from inside the house. I yell back happily that we need more time. My friend, Maple is over, and we are on my slip n’ slide. We’re taking turns sliding down that mysteriously fun object. We dump buckets full of ice water on each others head, and then laugh so hard that our stomachs hurt. We run inside, shivering like innocent mice. My dad wraps pink towels around us, and we drink some of his freshly squeezed lemonade. Delicious. Fresh. Tears drip from my eyes and make a pile of mud beneath my feet. I wish that I was still on the earth’s surface.  

 

Dad

The funeral was over. A kind elderly woman named Olga played the Organ as everyone walked out of the church. Three strong men came in wearing black sunglasses and black tuxedos. They grabbed the coffin, and brought it into the parking lot. They loaded it into the back of a big truck. I kissed it before they drove away. I waved goodbye to my now dead daughter. I thought that she would never have to depart from me. I planned on keeping her home from college. She got accepted into the Georgia Institute of Tech and never showed me the signing papers. She just signed them all by herself. Like my Autumn would do. I drove home. Scared to leave again. I could not go anywhere. A hole this big in my heart could not be fixed. This time, she broke my heart into a million pieces and never mended it again. Not this time. I went out to the store. Trying to fill the hole in my heart, like a cavity. I went to Heather Williams General store. I bought the local newspaper, The Little Ledger.  I opened up to the first page when I got home. I lie on the couch, sipping my hot coffee, looking through ads. It catches my eyes like an entomologist capturing a butterfly in their cruel nets.

 

Obituaries For This Week

Name: Autumn Elle Starlight

Birthday: 5/21/98

Age: 17

Family: Summer Angel Starlight, David Jason Starlight-Cooper

 

“This 17 year old amazing girl recently died in the parking lot of Glenville High. She has lived a long and healthy life, until she was unexpectedly hit by a bolt of lightning at 6:30 in the morning. Everyone was devastated. Physics teacher, Clay Edelman, 34, watched the scene go down. We are all sad about this loss.  Autumn was a special girl, she had many hobbies, such as: listening to Echosmith, playing guitar, and dancing in the style of Jazz. Many have been hit with a stroke of reality, some scarred for life. She is definitely one to never forget.”

 

Autumn

I tip toe across railroad tracks, no trains passing. Abandoned. The sky darkens to a navy blue-pitch black. The stars are brighter than usual, making northern lights. The colors are beautiful. No lights making the natural color turn artificial. I stargaze like I did back on Earth.  I soon get tired and go to sleep for the night. The stars stare back at me. My eyes tightly shut.  No dreams this time. I wake up for real. I am in a dark hole. Wood outside is around me. I start to bang on it. Nobody opens it. I scream, loud. A piercing noise that you could mistake for coming from a six year old girl’s body.

 

Dad

That newspaper made my find what I had been looking for my whole life. What my daughter was. Who she was. Broken out of her shell that separated her from the world.  Someone who realized that being different is cool, and that not everyone is born the same way. I love her for that. If she is listening to me right now, then I love you, and tell mom that I love her, too. I go back to reading the newspaper and everything is the same as it is every day: oil spills and wars in Afghanistan. Our world may never change. We must all have peace.  I walk to the fridge, and take out the milk. I drink right from the carton, since there is no one to share it with. No one in the world. I definitely hate having to go through 15 deaths, of all of my relatives, except for Autumn’s cousins, who are in foster families.

 

Autumn

A man opens the coffin, and then they drop me and run. I am wearing what I was wearing when I died.  A white shirt that says, “Cool it.” It has an ice cream cone under the words. I am also wearing cropped jean shorts.  My hair is messy, and puffy. But I decide that I can fix it later. When I stand up, I am unsteady, but I don’t fall down. I walk home. On the long walk, I find a tiny plastic butterfly mobile in the garbage, and take it out.  It’s not mine, but I will take great care of it. As I turn into our driveway, I see a tiny leaf that has caterpillar chews that form a perfect A. A for Autumn. I twirl the butterfly mobile, and watch it spin and dance in the wind. As perfect as could be. I walk up the stairs to the house.

Knock…

 

The End

 

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