They camped in a clearing, on a patch of eroded granite that resembled an elliptical sandbox with white, wheelchair-accessible ramps on all sides. Armen gazed up into the Milky Way, and around the darker regions of the sky. It was all so much closer than before. He reached his hands up into it. He could almost feel the milk. He spotted the faint, even light of a satellite coasting through the stars as though they weren’t even there.
Directly above, there was a constellation—the form of a cross. It was unmistakable. The Northern Cross. He’d heard of that somewhere. There was a song—an operatic piece of sci-fi prog-rock. Six stars of the Northern Cross, in mourning for their sister’s loss … Yeah, that was it, he thought, as he framed the cross with fingers and thumbs. Just east of Lyra. Here. Northwest of Pegasus. That must be—here.
Here. It was so surprisingly near. He’d never really noticed the stars before. Now it seemed they had settled upon him like a sparkling tent, every star within arms’ reach; no mere infinite dome of the imagination, but an intimate view into his soul.
He continued to map the heavens as they rolled slowly around him.
Armen did fall asleep, but he awoke later, and lay gazing up into the lights as though they were the eyes of a lover. His eyes closed, and then they opened a while later to a new sky. It happened again and again throughout the night.
They got back to Walker’s camp early the next morning.
The cowboy was down at the river—in the river. Sam jumped out onto a boulder nearby and watched—and watched. Armen and Cindy retreated to camp to make breakfast.
Sam finally broke the silence. “Any luck?”
“Luck? No. Just fish.”
“No. Not today. Just a little sport.”
“Where’d you learn how to do that—that, without a pole?”
“Oh gee. I can hardly remember. Friend of mine. Many years ago.”
“Other people can do that?”
“Huh? Oh. Oh, sure.”
“How do you do it?”
“Just gotta know where to look, and tickle away.”
“Sure. That’s all there is to it. Takes a little patience. One fish at a time, y’know.”