Bold Arrangement

Archer saw the stars for what they were, gaseous balls of fusion orbiting the galactic core at such a great distance that it barely seemed finite. Gillian regarded the planets the same way, almost, while noting that they were close enough to study productively from our own. Neither felt themselves even the most distant heirs to that ancient racial memory of prediction and connection via bodies in the sky.

Thus, Gillian saw little reason to have been feeling so anxious since her twenty-eighth birthday, studying Saturn's chemistry while it occupied the same position as it had at her birth. Little reason to wonder what kind of mother she would make while the spectrograph plotted its trace, to worry about her future as the great telescope ticked and turned in the thin June air.

The shift after hers was booked by Archer that night, forced to take graveyard after the board wasted his time with another rewrite. He came in early in case she hadn't shown, but met her there instead. They spoke of journals and tenure and the 'scope and the sky.

Archer calibrated the telescope to photograph Deschubba and cluster M80 nearby, proof along with a photo from fifty years ago that it had moved a bit more than expected, proof that gravity needed another theoretical tweak. He photographed the head of Scorpius, his own sign, a fact which never even registered.

She stayed after her shift while the last few graphs printed, and after they finished as well. He walked her out of the observatory at six a.m., hand in hand. She woke up next to his warmth at three the next day. Against any sceptical insight either of them might make, the night's bold arrangement of stars and that of every one before it had brought them together.

For the nerd I love.