How a constellation was born from a simple act of kindness.
On a brisk winter day, a young boy walks the New England coast searching for seashells.
He picks pieces off the sand, considers them for a moment, then throws them back into the sea.
At twilight he sits, watches the sunset, and pinches the sand beneath his feet.
A little girl walks by, her shirt upturned, cradling a thousand seashells. He waves to her and she smiles.
The boy invites the girl to sit with him. She agrees and pours the seashells out on the sand in front of them.
"What are you doing?" he asks.
"I'm a collector," she says.
"Yes, but not only that."
"What else do you collect?"
She thinks for a moment then pulls something from her pocket. "Well, my grandfather gave me this wishbone."
"A wishbone? He doesn't need it?"
She looks to the sunset and says, "No, I don't think so. Not anymore."
The boy is quiet now and continues pinching sand.
"What's the matter?" the girl asks.
"Well... I've searched all day for the perfect seashell and I've found nothing."
The girl looks at the wishbone, then at the boy. She holds it up and says, "Maybe this will help."
They lay their hands on the bone and pull with all their might. It snaps and the girl is left with the bigger half.
The boy frowns. The little girl closes her eyes, tightens her fists, and wishes with all her might.
When she opens her eyes the boy asks, "What did you wish for?"
The little girl shakes her head. "If I told you, it wouldn't come true."
In that moment the boy's frown transforms to a smile from ear to ear. "Hey, look at that. The perfect seashell."
"Take it," the girl says. "It's yours."
"Really?" he says scooping up the seashell. "Thank you."
He tells her he's gotta be going and runs off toward the dunes.
She returns to the shoreline, but the waves are heavier now and all the shells are broken.
That night, when the sun ducks behind the salty horizon, the broken wishbone is lifted to the sky as a constellation in the heavens to remind us all of the little girl's sacrifice.
You see, it was her wish that brought the boy's seashell back to him, a shell he had earlier tossed back into the sea for the girl to find.
*This has been an excerpt from a new novel I'm working on called Colossus. Thanks for reading.