Matt's icicle hands held mine as snow finally ceased to litter his yard, fingers gloveless and bloodless. I provided a warm showing of teeth, restraining myself from demanding that he wear coverings. Stars blanketed us, spotting the enveloping dark, so unlike the blazing city lights I grew accustomed to. He avoided my gaze and raised his eyes to meet the sky.
"That will definitely hurt your neck," I said. "I have a better idea." Pulling him down by the arm, we tumbled on soft white ground, meeting no protests from my friend other than a grunt of disapproval. Cold bit into my shivering skin through four layers of coats, but I gasped in awe of the luminaries. He, however, did not show a shadow of wonder.
"Eh, it's alright."
"You're no fun." Ice cold Matt- he never changed. "Maybe if I tell you a story my mom told me about stars you'd like them better."
"Sure, not like I have anything better to do."
His hollowness pained me more than bitter cold and my crushed heart, but I hoped regardless. What was he, a robot? An assortment of flesh and bloody insides that existed for nothing? I remembered his assortment of facts, spouted so frequently and calmly, that humans were nothing more than chemicals and habits, simple to categorize and discard. What was I then? Temporary entertainment that may or may not lead to casual sex?
Breathing came sharply in my frozen lungs, words almost unwilling to leave my throat. "Mom said when you die, sometimes you're a ghost, because you have unfinished business, or go straight to heaven, because you did so much good in the world. There's so many stars, way more than there are people. We're really tiny, in that way."
Puffs of smoky air left his nostrils, growing larger with a new sigh. "You know I don't believe in God, Angie. Or ghosts. Or heaven. This is going to be a boring story, since I know how stars are made and how they die."
"I don't care!" It hurt, but I continued, despite this. "She... she said at some point stars were living things. You know that motivational speaker stuff, that we're made of the same stuff as stars-"
"-Stars are made of hydrogen, carbon, silicon, iron, and other trace material. Iron in particular is made when stars explode and die. No magic there-"
"Stop interrupting me Matt, just... just stop." My eyes stung. Why did I bother? "When they fall to Earth, and when they meet us, they want to come back, because everyone wants a home to come back to, even though now that they're stars they can't stay."
For a moment, he was silent.
"Falling stars aren't stars. They're tiny bits of interstellar rocks that burn when they fall to Earth." Releasing my hand, he raised himself to a seated position. "But it's a nice story."
I stood up and began to walk back to the house.
"Suit yourself Matt. You never change."