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“Take me outside,” she said.

He leaned over her and tutted.

“No, mama,” he said, in that annoying, condescending tone of voice he reserved for children and invalids. “You’re too sick.”

She laughed, a sound as brittle as a dry twig underfoot.

“Sick? I’m not sick. I’m dying. And taking me outside won’t make a damned bit of difference. I want to see it. I want to know it’s still there.”

He was going to argue some more, she could see it in his face, but a hand on his shoulder pulled him away.

“You should do what she asks,” his wife told him. “It could be her last request.”

“Too right,” she snapped. “How’re you going to live with yourself, knowing you denied your mother her last wish? Now take me outside and be quick about it.”

Reluctantly, and with a great deal of fuss and extra blankets, he lifted her and carried her out onto the porch.

“Ah, there it is,” she whispered, the anger and bitterness gone from her voice. “Do you see? Do you remember, when you were little? There used to be millions of them. Do you remember?”

He took her hand and squeezed it gently.

“I remember, mama.”

“Now they’re all gone. All of them.”

His wife gasped as the last star blinked out, and his mother let go of her last breath.

© Kari Fay