It's morning again. Another morning. Another day. Can't I just stay in bed a little bit longer? Why do I have to get up? Why do I have to open my eyes when I know that all I will see is an empty room, an empty house, an empty life? I'll have to get ready for school even no one cares if I go. No one notices me anyways. But if I do stay in bed, if I don't open my eyes, if I don't go to school, Grandma might notice and worry. I can't do that to her.

Joni opened her eyes. She saw a vast universe; it's darkness and the swirling specks of light, stars, that were scattered throughout it. Swirls of dark blues, purples, and blacks represented the gloominess and hardness of life. In certain ares, however, specks of whites and yellows signified that hope still existed. Darkness. Night. Stars. Hope. Light.

Suddenly a shiver ran through Joni's spine. She squinted at the mural painted on the ceiling above her bed. Then she got up and stood on her mattress to get a closer look.

Joni had been working on that painting for over a year now. Her counsellor once asked her to name something she felt an affinity with. Joni had answered, the universe. Like a deep dark universe that was infinite and had countless wonders and sights, but no life. No where in all those billions of spectacular plantes and stars was life. Only the dark coldness and lonliness of space.

The the counsellor told Joni to make a physical representation of what she had just said. Joni kept putting it off and ignoring it. Then one day her grandma found out about it and went out to Michaels and bought whatever the salesperson advised for painting. She got home with a set of acrylic paints and all the tools needed for making a masterpiece. That was not cheap. Even though money was already tight with her parents dead and her older sister off somewhere far away, her grandma still did something like that.

Joni had tried, as she always did, to fulfill her grandma's expectations and began painting a mural of the universe on the ceiling. But, as always, she failed to succeed. Something was missing from that mural. It was a swirl of colors and detail, and Joni's grandma complimented it, but Joni knew it was just like everything else. Detailed, full of effort, precise, even pretty, but completely and utterly empty—lifeless.

The young teenager craned her neck upwards and squinted at the white specks she painted last night. She compared it with the mental picture of last night's starry sky.

She was taking a short break and was looking outside for reference on how to continue her painting. She glanced up just in time to see a shooting star streak across the sky. As the thin line of light flew past, the other stars suddenly seemed to flash for a dazzling spit second. Even now the stars glowed in Joni's memory, so she couldn't help but try to replicate it onto the mural.

I think it looks the same. It looks almost exactly as how I remember it. But this feels different. Last night, looking up at the sky, I felt alive. Like the stars were speaking to me. Like, somehow, in it's infinite detail and...well... big-ness, someme. It was something out there could hear me, was watching me, was answering. This sounds crazy. But I knew I felt something. It was so fast. Like air. Like light.

Joni paused. Another feeling struck her.

Without thinking, she took a flying leap off her bed, and pretty much crashed into her dresser. The lamp on top began to wobble and Joni looked up just in time to see it tip off the dresser and fall towards her head.

In a quick move she caught the base of the heavy lamp, centimeters away from her face. That didn't stop the lampshade from slipping off the lamp and hit her nose before falling harmlessly onto the soft carpet.

"Joni? Are you okay in there?" Her grandma called from the hallway outside.

"Uh...I think so." Joni answered, her hands still holding the vase away from her face, which had a pretty shocked expression at the moment.

The door to her room opened and this cute old lady came in.

"Are you sure, dear?" She looked around worriedly, "I was afraid maybe something happened."

The grandma saw Joni's white face and trembling fingers.

"Goodness child, are you okay? You look so white! And why are holding that dusty lamp like that? You are going to get dirt all over yourself! Is everything alright? If you need help, you can tell me anythime."

Joni sighed. Her grandmother was getting all worried again and it was all her fault.

"Of course I'm fine. I was just...um...cleaning thelamp. You said it yourself it's pretty dusty." She carefully put the lamp back on the dresser.

"See? Everything is fine." She mustered a grin for her grandmother.

The old lady did not look convinced,"You forgot the shade, dear."

Joni expression suddenly changed, "The what?"

Grandmother cleared her throat, "The shade. The lampshade." She saw the bewildered expression on Joni's face and gestured towards the lamp on the dresser, "That lamp has a lampshade for it. It's on the floor."

Joni nodded absently and it took her a few looks to realize that the lampshade was at her feet, a plain white thing. Just as absently she picked it up.

"Yes. The lampshade." She said.

The grandmother looked worriedly at her again, "Are you sure you are alright? Maybe, you shouldn't go to school today. Yes. That's just what I'll do. I'll go call the principal and say you are unable to go today."

With one more worried look, she left the room and went to make the call.

Joni was left inside the room, looking thoughtfully with the lampshade in her hands. After gathering her thoughts, she then grabbed her painting kit and went to work.

Somehow, the life she felt last night was glowing inside of her and she knew exactly what she was doing. The was no reason to it. No sense. Just life and light, guiding her every action.

Joni didn't know how much time had passed by the time she finished. All she knew was that this was what she was meant to do and that, somewhere out there, there was a place she was meant to be. No. A place she NEEDED to be.

After putting the last touches to her finished project, she put it back in its place and was about to leave when she remembered something. She flicked on the lamp switch then flicked off the room's light, before leaving the room. She had to talk with her grandma about bus tickets.

Inside the room, light sparckled from strategically placed holes in the lampshade. The lampshade was painted with swirls of dark blues, purples, and black. In certain areas, holes were poked into the lampshade and light sparkled out of it. Yet it was more than the artistic brushstrokes, or the precise placement and size of the holes in the lampshade, somehow what was missing in Joni's previous artwork and missing in her life was found in making this lampshade. It had purpose, and it had life.