ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Seventeen Stars

Updated on May 22, 2022
Tom Cornett profile image

I cut my teeth writing on Hubpages back in 2009. I've written 17 novels, numerous songs, and short stories since. I love to write love.

A terrible storm arrived.

After the storm.

She sat there on a wire milk crate just outside what was left of her home. She gazed at the morning sun's gleam on the train tracks. The tire swing was wrapped tightly around the Oak tree trunk and a piece of red tin swayed, dangling from a limb in the gentle breeze. She was turning and touching a small pine tree branch in her hand and clinching the wet soggy grass with her toes.

The pain from the pine needles felt good, she was alive. Her father had told her when he came home from Vietnam, "Pleasure is the breath of a liar, pain is a tear full of truth." She wanted to look behind her at the devastation but she couldn't. She wanted to look for her daddy but she could feel in her heart that he was gone. She saw it take him.

Distant voices broke the haunting silence. She saw them coming through the soy bean field. She remembered what her daddy was shouting to her, "Emily, stay here in the tub! We'll be OK! Stay under the quilts and hold on to the faucet!" A tear fell on her the lace of her white slip as she looked up and saw a woman running to her. The woman cried, "Oh my God child! Are you OK?" The woman gently draped a blanket around Emily and knelt down beside her.

Emily glanced at her a moment and went back to squeezing the pine needles. The woman shouted for other men and women to check what was left of the house. The woman said, "My name is Jackie. What's your name sweetie?" Emily started to speak but just swallowed and looked down. Jackie said, "It's a miracle that you survived the tornado. You must have a lot of Angels."

Emily softly spoke, "I don't have Angels. It wasn't a tornado. I have 16 stars." Jackie got her to sip some water from a bottle and said, "It's OK sweetie. You are going to be OK." Jackie brushed back Emily's long red hair with her hand and asked, "Who else was in the house with you?"

Emily turned away and said, "My daddy but the train got him. It was a black train. I saw the smoke outside the window. I heard that awful whistle. Daddy can't give me any more stars. Momma promised he would after she died. I only got sixteen stars."

Jackie hugged her and said, "Talk all you want." Emily wiped away a tear and said, "Momma gave me a star on every birthday. Once, when I was ten, she made daddy drive three hundred miles to see my new star. The clouds wasn't going to keep us from seeing it."

A man came up and started to say something but Jackie waved him away. Emily went on, "My birthday is just five days away. On April 7th and daddy was going to point out my seventeenth star. Momma died in January. Now daddy is gone and I only get 16 stars. I guess we stop getting stars when everyone we love is gone?"

Jackie slowly pulled the pine branch from Emily's hand and saw little specks of blood. Jackie said, "There is an ambulance coming down the lane. They'll need to take you to the hospital to be checked over." Jackie helped her into the ambulance and it left for the hospital. Four men came up from a hollow, carrying Emily's father's body. Jackie watched the ambulance go down the lane with such sadness in her heart for the 16 year old girl.

Jackie went to visit Emily that night. She walked in her room and saw Emily standing at the window. Jackie said, "Hi sweetie, remember me?" Emily smiled and said, "Hi, I was just looking at my stars." Emily handed Jackie a piece of paper that had a word drawn out by dot to dot. Emily looked out and up at the sky while saying, "You know, my momma spelled out my birthday present in the stars. I only needed sixteen to spell LOVE."

Moving on.

By the end of that summer, 45-year-old Jackie had adopted Emily. It seemed as if a fate filled with love had brought them together. A bad storm came the next Spring. Jackie was at work and rushed home only to find Emily standing in the front yard, facing the fierce winds.

Jackie struggled as she ran against the wind to Emily. Just as Jackie reached her, Emily fell to her knees and cried out to the sky, "I love you!" Hail and rain began to spit down hard from the darkened skies. Jackie grabbed Emily and hugged her to try and protect her from the hail as Emily kept crying, "I love you!"

Jackie shouted, "Emily, Emily we have to get to the house!" Jackie managed to pull Emily up and they stumbled across the yard to the porch. Emily was still crying, "I Love You," over and over. Jackie held her tight and stroked her dripping soaked hair as Emily's voice became quieter with each, "I love you."

Jackie managed to get Emily to sit in the porch swing. Jackie held her as the storm subsided. Emily wiped her tears and softly said, "I remember now. I remember the day of the storm. I was lying in the bathtub. I peeked out and saw the storm take him. I tried to get out of the tub to help him but hands held me down. I felt four hands holding me down in that tub. It was momma's hands. It was daddy's hands. Emily softly cried.

Jackie held Emily tighter and cried with her.

That evening, the skies cleared and the stars were brilliant! Jackie walked out in the yard with Emily. Emily pointed out her stars. Emily rested her head on Jackie's shoulder and said, "Momma believed that every human being would have their own Galaxy someday. When she would talk about it, daddy would smile and say, "You are a Galaxy, my dear. I see it in your eyes."

Jackie smiled and said, "Emily, that is so beautiful."

Emily smiled and said, "You are my seventeenth star, Jackie. I love you."

Emily and her Galaxy.

© 2010 Tom Cornett


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)