Also: Supernovas and White Dwarfs

And: A brief Elegy

But most of all: Another node about some girl and boy



Late one August night he was locked out so they spent the night laying on his front lawn looking up at the sky. Sky was dark and the stars were bright. Beautiful music playing. They split earphones between them, the twin pale cords traveling from their ears down their arms to meet where their bodies met, at their hands. Their fingers were entwined, a small cold cuboid pressed between their palms.

This is nice the girl said.

Yeah the boy replied.

She sighed. A sigh can mean so many things: content, tired, resigned, tired, impatient. Tonight it partly means that he is chronically careless. Locking the keychain in the car was characteristic. It was late and the matter of being stuck here without the means of getting inside or driving elsewhere would have to be resolved eventually.

Though to be honest it was sort of nice. The night was quiet and the light from above looked impossibly distant. The moon was a sliver, ceding sky to more distant objects. The grass was coated with a the faint mist of evening dew. Or maybe the sprinklers were running earlier today. The random number generator in the small cold cuboid pressed between their palms was behaving with remarkable insight and the selections were all perfectly appropriate. Or maybe that was just the way they would remember the evening later.

Not much time left he said, just loudly enough to be heard.

Two more weeks she replied.

She could hear the grass rubbing his hair gently as he nodded.

Above them light from burning stars made its journey across space to his front lawn. Some especially appropriate music was playing. Light may travel quickly but there are great distances involved. The universe is a large place. By the time we see the rays from a dying star it has already burnt out. There is already a gaping cold void in space where it used to be. Time passes between when something happens and when we see it happen. Astronomers peer through telescopes at what has already been written and predict what has already come to pass.

We'll call.

Of course.

And visit.

That too. This isn't the end.

Yes. Not the end at all. (Words are wind.)

Small bursts of signal traveled from their fingers, from between the palms of their hands, up their arms. By the time the touch is felt or the very appropriate music is heard their fingers and the small cold cuboid pressed between them has moved on to newer bursts of signal.

They are both of them looking up at the sky and marveling how quietly stars die. Something ends and they won't even see it for eons. For now, light, beauty, as if nothing has changed, as if a luminous celestial warmth still beats where now is only cold and dark. They look at each other in awe and wonder. Light may travel quickly but there are great distances involved. Even an universe of two is a large place.

Like chemistry, physics is no great mystery once you have all the equations. Ancient peoples quickly learned how to plot the movement of points of light across the sky. Today astronomers know before they even look up where all the stars will be tonight. How bright the dying star will be, how much time it has left and how long ago it died. There are few surprises.

They look up and watch the stars burn anyway. The ones that have already burnt out are the loveliest.

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