Cherished Star

Maisie and her love were riding their bikes through the Cades Cove loop road, still in the cool morning, the blue mist on the open fields and deep emerald forests.

Not a lot of cars or people yet, just Maisie and her love and the quiet, the feeling of being at the beginning of all things, the cool air and warm and tender sunlight.

They stopped to look at one of the preserved churches, watched over by a grove of oaks in full June bloom. The shade cast on warbling glass windows and stern and stiff pews.

Her love went inside to take pictures, and Maisie walked to the cemetery beside it. Grey and worn stones of people long dead, some of them lost to memory.

The Park Service tended these graves, but there were many graveyards in these mountains abandoned completely, the graves forgotten, the people forgotten, less than ghosts.

After the beginning of all things was the end of all things. Maisie knew one day she would, as would all who knew her, until her grave was untended, and she was less than a ghost.

Maisie walked back as her love came out of the church. She embraced them and kissed their cheek. The weight and warmth and touch soothed her, like the cool morning and tender sunlight.

They got back on their bikes and rode on, as cars and people started to come in, breaking the peaceful spell. The cool morning gave way to sweltering afternoon.

Maisie watched her love ride ahead, a cherished star in an impermanent life. They were together and in love now, and maybe until the end. That mattered, even as all would be lost.

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