The arm of the Milky Way looked spectacular.
She’d driven to a place she knew, unhindered by any kind of artificial light.
Dark, remote, beautifully quiet.
She knew it from when she was a little girl. Her Dad would take her every August; telescope stuffed into the boot, blankets, hot chocolate, all primed and ready to sit and watch the Perseid meteor shower.
It’s where she learned about Polaris...
“As the Earth passes through orbital path of comet Swift-Tuttle, all the debris - the ice and rock - burns up in the atmosphere.”
Her Dad would give her a little wink as he set up the telescope, impressed she’d remembered what he’d told her.
She pushed a marshmallow onto a stick and simulated a comet hurtling through space.
“There.” Her Dad said, aligning the sights to the stars. “I’ll aim it at Polaris.”
He adjusted the telescope slightly.
“You remember where Ursa Minor is, the Little Dipper?”
“Yep.” She said looking up.
“The star at the end of the handle, the brightest one, that's called Polaris or the North Star.”
“Why’s it called that?”
“It’s almost directly above the North Pole and it basically never moves from it’s position in the sky.
So in the olden days sailors and explorers would use that star as a guide, so they wouldn't get lost, they'd always know where North was.”
“Is that why you use it to align the telescope?” She asked still looking up.
“Yeah, but it’s also my favourite star.”
“Whenever I look up. Whenever I don’t know what to do, I always ask myself: ‘What is most important to me? What’s my North Star?’”
“And does it work?”
“Most of the time.”
He looked at her, staring at him, expressionless. He laughed and knelt down next to her.
“Put your dreams in front of you. Fix them in the sky. And whenever you doubt yourself, look up-“
She looked to the North Star, smiling. Even now she could still hear her Dad’s voice.
“You’ll know what to do.”