No one believed him when he first decided to tell everyone what he had seen.
But he didn’t blame them; he wouldn’t accept it as true either if he hadn’t seen it with his own eyes. All he’d wanted was to look out the window and clear his head. He’d had a stressful week. The star had fallen right out of the sky, straight down. It wasn’t a shooting star, (he knew that), or a comet, because as he had watched it, the star had blinked out for a few seconds before returning brighter than before and dropping straight down. He tried to make sense of what he was seeing. It made no sense to him. None at all. Stars just don’t drop from the sky without warning. He had let the event stew in his mind for a few days. The very idea of stars falling was preposterous, ridiculous even. After a week, he’d decided that it was nothing; he’d been seeing things. But a week later, he watched as another star fell (It was the one right next to where the other star had been a week ago). He decided to tell someone about it. His mother, friends. Anyone who would listen. To be honest, he was starting to get worried as he watched the third star fall on the eighth night.
“The sky is falling,” he told his friend Derek nine days after he’d seen the first star fall. Derek coughed and spluttered, the milk he was drinking going all over the lunch table. The other five people at the table glanced over, wondering what had happened. “Conrad. That’s crazy,” Derek said, a smile tugging at the corner of his mouth. Conrad didn’t reply to his friend and kept staring at the orange he was holding, turning it over again and again in his hands. Derek was a good friend, been so for about five years anyway, but even he didn’t believe Conrad. “Have you been getting enough sleep lately?” Derek asked, shoving his empty milk carton into his brown lunch bag. “I know schools tough, but you still gotta rest some.” Conrad still made no reply and started to peel the orange. “What’s crazy?” Paul asked Derek from across the table. Paul wasn’t really a friend of theirs. He just sat with Derek and his group. He was new here but quickly developing a good reputation around school. Paul was funny and easy to be around. No one had seen him get angry since he’d moved here two weeks after school had started, although he hadn’t said from where. Whenever someone asked him that question, he would laugh and brush it off. “Nothing,” Derek said, biting his bottom lip nervously and giving Conrad a pleading look that said, “Please don’t say anything.” “Just…nothing.” Paul leaned in, interested. He brushed his black bangs out of his eyes to look at Derek better.
“Tell me,” Paul demanded, placing his elbows on the plastic cafeteria table and resting his chin in his hands. “I want to know.” “The sky is falling,” Conrad repeated again, quieter this time, self-conscious almost. Paul suppressed a smirk. “Okay,” he said sarcastically, and turned back to the conversation he was in before. Frowning, Derek glanced at Conrad. “Look, you can’t just go saying stuff like that. People will think you’re insane.” Conrad looked up at his friend, making eye contact. He didn’t look away, boring into Derek’s green irises, scrutinizing. Derek bit his lip again and glanced down. He never did do well when it came to confrontation. “You…don’t believe me,” Conrad said slowly, weighing each word on his tongue and studying his friend’s face as he let the accusation form. Derek had grabbed his lunch bag and was squeezing it in nervousness. “Well…no. I mean, Conrad, it’s ridiculous. The sky doesn’t start randomly falling.” His eyes met Conrad’s again, this time apologetically. “I’m sorry.” ` Conrad just nodded and went back to peeling his orange.
That night he sat at his window, watching the night sky again. It was thirty minutes to midnight, and his mother thought he was asleep. Conrad was a good kid for a seventeen-year-old, quiet and reserved. He never spoke much and rarely got in trouble. He took after his mother mostly, even down to his blond hair and light blue eyes. People said that looking into his eyes unsettled them and Conrad could never figure out why. He knew it wasn’t the color, but someone had once told him it was what was behind them, the intelligence that his gaze gave off. Too intense for someone his age. No stars fell that night.
Conrad spent his day as usual the next morning. Sitting in his chair in class and listening, though today the words his teacher spoke just wafted through his head, in one ear and out the other. Derek saw the faraway look on Conrad’s face at lunch. “What’s up with you?” he asked, taking a bite of his sandwich. “Nothing. Why do you ask?” Derek looked skeptical but didn’t inquire anymore. They ate lunch in silence that day.
The fourth and fifth star fell on the eleventh night. It greatly disturbed Conrad that two starts fell on one night. He got off his bed and dug around his room for a sweatshirt. He didn’t care if Derek didn’t think he was telling the truth. Amanda would. Amanda was the girl that lived down the street. Well…sometimes. When she wasn’t at the hospital anyway. She had a disease, a horrible one. She wouldn’t tell him what it was though. “My secret,” she would tell him every time he tried to ask. He was inspired by her optimism; she was slowly dying, and she knew it, but she didn’t let it affect her attitude. She always had a smile on her face. Even for the doctors that stuck tubes and needles into her. Conrad tugged on the shirt and slipped on his shoes and tried to avoid waking up his mother as he walked down the stairs. Amanda would be up; she almost never slept. He left the front door unlocked and stepped down his porch and onto his street. Amanda lived a few streets down, so Conrad started off at a light jog. He stared at the ground as he ran and kept track of his breathing to try and distract his mind, otherwise he would start to think about the stars again. It still made no sense to him, even after eleven days. At last, Amanda’s house came into view. Conrad slowed to a walk and went around the side of the house to her window. He knocked on the screen, hissing out her name. She glanced up from her bed at him, a book propped up in her lap. Closing the book, she pushed the covers off her bed and walked over to Conrad and slid open the glass so that it was just a screen between them. “What is it?” she asked curiously. “Amanda, I need you to do me a favor. Believe me, even if what I’m about to say sounds crazy, you have to trust me.” Amanda raised an eyebrow but nodded her head. “The sky is falling,” he said for the third time. He watched her face, trying to see the emotions playing on it. She smiled, and Conrad’s face fell. She didn’t believe him either; now he knew no one would listen. “You’re kidding,” she said. “There’s no way that’s true.” She scratched at a scab on her arm. “Just no way.” “Why would I lie to you?” She didn’t respond to him for a while, letting the silence permeate through the air between them. He didn’t move his eyes from hers, trying to communicate that he wasn’t lying. “How do you know?” she asked suddenly. Conrad felt a surge of relief. She believed him, she wanted to listen.
“I’ve seen five starts drop from the sky.” “Stars. Five stars.” “Yeah.” “Huh.” She looked up at the sky. “Did they just fall?” “Pretty much.” Suddenly a grin appeared on Amanda’s face. “This kind of reminds me of that book, Chicken Little. He tells everyone the sky is falling, but no one believes him. Have you told anyone else?” “Derek and Paul.” Amanda made a disgusted face. “Of course. And they didn’t listen to you, did they?” It was more of a statement than a question. The wind blew, causing Conrad to shiver as he shook his head. Amanda ignored the biting cold and looked back up at the sky. “Do you know where the stars go after they fall?” “No.” “Do you think they keep falling? Or do they hit something and stop?” she was more musing to herself at this point, it seemed. “Conrad, how can I see these stars fall?” “Watch over there at night,” he responded, pointing east. Amanda nodded and stepped back from the window. “Now get back home and go to bed, Conrad. You need some sleep. I’ll watch the sky tomorrow and let you know if I see anything.” He said goodbye and raced home to his bed, hopefully to get a few hours of sleep. Amanda called him the next night. She’d seen the star fall. That would make it six stars now, he thought to himself. Once again he tried to tell Derek, but Derek told him to shut up, that he didn’t want to hear Conrad’s stupid lies anymore. Then pieces of the sky started falling. Conrad decided it was time to tell his mother. Over dinner that night, he stopped playing with his mashed potatoes and cleared his throat. “Mom. The sky is falling.” She stopped mid-chew to look up at him. “Conrad, don’t be ridiculous,” she said and then wouldn’t listen to him try and convince her.
Conrad spent the next few days watching helplessly as the pieces of the sky and stars continued to fall. Why wouldn’t anyone listen to him? He broke a pencil in frustration. Only Amanda believed him, but she had stopped calling a week ago. Conrad had figured she’d gone back to the hospital. Derek almost never talked to him anymore, and Paul had long since moved to another lunch table; to find a new crowd to mingle in. By now, there was a good sized hole in the sky, but everyone still looked past it, thinking the blinding white in the middle of the blue was just an oddly shaped cloud. Pieces continued to fall, and Conrad kept trying to convince people, but they just laughed it off, going on with their lives. But then one day, Paul came up to Conrad as he sat by himself at the lunch table he used to share with Derek. Derek had decided to sit elsewhere a week ago. Ninety-three days, fifteen pieces of the sky, and one hundred stars, Conrad reminded himself. “Conrad?” He glanced up at his name. Paul was sitting across from him, chewing on his cheek. His normally calm eyes were vivid, the pupils dilated. “You’re right. I saw…I saw something fall out of the sky last night. And behind it was white. Just white, and then it hit me. That thing in the sky, the cloud or whatever everyone’s calling it, it’s not a cloud.” He paused to take a shaky breath. “It’s nothing. Just empty space that isn’t really there. It’s what’s left behind when the sky falls.” Conrad slowly smiled. “Thank you.” Paul fidgeted awkwardly and nodded before going back to his table. Conrad watched as he talked to them. Their faces slowly changed. He must be telling them what he just told Conrad. The expressions ranged from humored to bored, as if, not this again. The next day, Paul joined Conrad for lunch. And after two weeks, Amanda still hadn’t called and Conrad was starting to worry. He walked over to her house after school, and her mother answered the door. She had been crying but was trying to hide it. “Yes?” “Is uh…is Amanda here?” Her mother’s face fell, and she didn’t bother to hide the tears. “No.”
Conrad felt his heart drop. Amanda was gone. He could tell. As id the large number of flowers inside the door weren’t a big enough hint. His immediate response was, “I am sorry for your loss.” Amanda’s mother politely thanked him, and Conrad turned to leave. He told her to call on him if she needed anything. Conrad watched as another piece of the sky fell that night, leaving more white in the place of the blue. And three days after that, the scientist finally started to pay attention to the growing white space, the news started covering it, and people began to talk about it in school. Paul and Conrad were still ignored, outcasts of the social network in school. But by now, both of them knew it was too late for anyone to do anything. If only the people had listened in the beginning. They might have stood a chance then. The white was over about three-fourths of the sky now, and Conrad was still trying to figure out the answer to Amanda’s question. “Do you think they keep falling? Or do they hit something and stop?” He hadn’t. “Conrad, I’m sorry.” Derek stood at Conrad’s door, head hung low. “I’m sorry I didn’t believe you.” “It’s okay. Don’t worry about it.” Derek looked up from his feet, confused with Conrad’s reaction. “It really doesn’t matter because we’re all doomed anyway,” he said, laughing dryly. “Come in. Do you want something to drink?” With only a few weeks left to spare before all the blue disappeared, Conrad was friends with Derek again, and everyone knew that he was right, that he’d been right all along. Though they all knew it was too late. Even the scientists who were trying to find an answer were discouraged, knowing it was a lost cause. The sky was going to disappear. Now everyone lived like the day they were living was their last.
And in seventeen days, it was. The day the last piece of the sky fell, Conrad was in school. Someone started yelling in the middle of class, “The last piece of the sky! It just dropped!” The last little speck of blue in the sea of white just couldn’t hold on until night. It simply let go. Everyone shot out of their desks and out of the room. Even the teacher followed. Conrad reached over and grabbed Paul’s jacket sleeve. He tugged him through the crowd until they were at the back against the wall.
“I told you. I told you,” he repeated quietly, watching all the scared faces as the last piece of the sky fell down, straight down. Paul buried his face into the wall, pulling his hood over his head. He didn’t want to see. “You didn’t listen. You should have, but you didn’t.” And as the last piece of blue dropped, the white where the sky used to be took over. The colorless nothing took over. People screamed. Then there was nothing.