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1st Place Winner of Winter Short Story & Fiction Challenge: Broken Stars - Robert Moser

Updated: May 24

Momma used to hold the stars. Every night, as soon as the sun went down and the stars came out, a man would snatch them all up and bring them to her. In quiet voices, Momma and the star-snatcher would look at the stars in a small bag. They always twinkled so bright.


"Momma," I would say, "Momma, I wanna see the stars."


"Not now, baby," she would tell me.


I would wait for a long time while Momma and the star-snatcher went into my room. It was her  room too; we shared it like the man shared the stars. Momma never shared the stars with me. After a while, the man would leave and she would come out holding the little stars in the little bag.


"Momma, can I see the stars now?"


And they would shine through that little baggy, casting shadows that danced on the walls and the carpet. Momma sat on the couch, in the same place she always sat when she had the stars.




"Hush, baby."


 And I would hush and watch her take stars out of the little bag and put them in a tiny bowl. Light would bounce off the glass, spilling over the rim staining Momma's fingers and hands. The starlight would stay like that for a while, hanging in the air.


"Watch me, child," she would say, "Watch the stars."


 Momma would take the tiny bowl full of stars and hold it close to her face, her lips touching the glass. Her mouth was always stained with starlight. Momma had this lighter that my dad gave her.


"It's the only thing worth something here," she always used to say.


Momma would take the lighter and hold it under the bowl of stars. It took her a while before fire would come out. Her hands shook. The fire would come out like a gasp, mouth open trying to grab the air almost. But it was fire, and she burned the stars every night on the couch with that little flame. As they burned, they cracked and withered away into smoke and Momma was always there to breathe it in. When she did that, my mom became a star. Her skin glowed and I could see the stars travel through her. As the stars danced around inside her, she danced around the house, and the starlight would make shadows dance on the walls. Everything was dancing. I watched the stars like this every night.


 I came home from school one day and Momma was in her spot on the couch, cracked stars on the floor and her lap. Starlight crawled out onto the walls and onto Momma. It wasn't dancing anymore. The bright twinkling was replaced with a dim yellow flicker. That's how Momma's eyes looked. Guttering lights gasping for air. They didn't move. They weren't dancing. Momma wasn't dancing. Momma never moved. I waited a week in that house with Momma and the broken stars.


People who called me "kin" came to my house and got me and Momma. They stuck her in a box. They asked me things and I told them about the stars and I asked them where Momma went. They told me she was with the stars. They took me to see Momma in her box but she didn't look like starlight anymore, even though her lips were stained with it. Momma wasn't with the stars. She was in a box.


Robert Moser is a high school English teacher from southern California. He works in Long Beach and is extremely passionate about language and the written word. Robert hopes to continue writing in this new year and spark further passion and motivation for his current projects.

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Chad Fisher
Chad Fisher
May 21

Robert Moser's talent is obvious. I hope he continues to publish short fiction. Beautiful story.


Apr 25

Brilliant, absolutely brilliant! Thoroughly enjoyed the read as well as the careful structure utilized, enabling a smooth flow and development of events to a deep, sobering, sadly relatable epiphany.


Apr 08

That just brought tears to my eyes. Thank you x


Barbara Lipp
Barbara Lipp
Mar 23

Wow - that’s intense and haunting. Well done.


David W Berner
David W Berner
Mar 22

Beautiful story. Congratulations!

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