When the universe turned beige, I sat.
Patience. That’s what is needed. Patience. Sure, I know there will have to be some manner of search eventually, but there’s nothing. There’s no way out. There is only this tiny beige space. The answer will come. I must be patient.
And so I sat. And I sat. And then without planning it, I slept. I slept for an eternity. The colour slowly drained out of the beige universe as I slept. Slowly, slowly. After sleeping for a trillion years, the universe was black and the universe was cold. I was the only living thing remaining, the only ordered object in existence. I was low-entropy. But still I slept.
Another trillion years passed, and the universe became colder and colder still. There was no light anywhere anymore. Light was dead. Stars were dead. Atoms were dead. Protons were dead. Everything in the universe had long since dissipated. Except me.
And then, in the fabric of the universe, a small rip. A rip that oughtn’t be there. Not a black hole, they too had evaporated eons ago. No, just a rip. And through that rip, I fell. And still I slept.
Inside the rip there was no room. There was only the sleeping me, hugged tightly on all sides by the fabric of the pocket into which I had fallen. I was squeezed. It got warm. And that was when I exploded.
The pocket expanded at an alarming rate and the particles of me expanded into it, ever onwards, onwards, onwards. But still I slept.
The pocket expanded further and further, faster and faster. It remained hot. It remained energetic. But it was still so very dark. I slept.
I slept for a further 380 million years and then one day, I woke up. And the universe burst with an innumerable number of stars and galaxies and I sat and I watched them and I waited. Patience, She had told me. Though I could now search, I felt it best to wait.
And so I did. I sat and I watched for a further nine billion years. Stars born, stars die, galaxies form, galaxies collide, supernovas spreading the stuff of new stars and new life throughout the cosmos. And it was after all this time, that eventually I was nudged out of my watching by a child.
The child (androgynous, it was) was walking through space, looking through a kaleidoscope. But the child was angry, so angry. Though I smiled at it, the child remained angry and continued angrily looking through its kaleidoscope. After a time, it glowered and thrust the colourful tube at me. I nodded and took the tube without speaking. The child glared, but neither said nor did anything.
Looking through the tube and twisting the end, I enjoyed the interplay of the various colours as they danced and faded and reappeared. Putting the kaleidoscope in my lap, I noticed that the angry androgynous anklebiter had sat down opposite me. The glare had not faded, and I thought it best to look back at the kaleidoscope. I brought the cylinder back to my eye.
And there, inside the kaleidoscope, among the whirling designs, was She. She appeared in a tie-dyed dress and a small beanie hat. She had pigtails, which was a new look and one that suited her, despite the gaudiness of her attire. She stood awkwardly, with a slightly upsetting look of knowing on her face. She nodded to me, and I took that to mean I should put the kaleidoscope down again.
The child remained, but was now more sullen than angry. But I cared not for the child for She was here too, though She now wore yellow trousers, chunky heels and an orange wig. Fingers were steepled, and She too gave me an upsetting look. I quickly looked back down the kaleidoscope, and now the She therein was smiling. I found if I kept both eyes open, one down the kaleidoscope and one into the vastness of space, I could see both of She.
And then Shes began.
Whoever you pass, Shes sang, they all see the trash you carry with you, holding it tight to yourself as though it’s a treasure. Why, they ask, is such rubbish so important? Near you, Shes continue, there is a mysterious face that watches you from a distance. Did you know? Though you carry such large things with you, you have also lost something, haven’t you?
It is unlikely that you will ever regain it.
When you are here, Shes sing, I smile, I laugh, I cry. I live. When you are gone, Shes sing, there is nothing.
Is it your body? Is it your surroundings? Is it your watch? Shes ask. What is it that is broken? Why do you search?
The child looks at me, head cocked to one side, echoing the question.
The effort you spend protecting that trash you carry with you, Shes sing, surely it’s tiring. Surely it’s worn you out. Why do you continue? You will never be able to regain what is lost. You can never return to being the perfect circle you once were.
So, Shes sing, why not be a shining ellipse with me? We’ll trace our paths through the heavens and life will get better. Shes ask these things as though I am unwilling, but I am ever so willing. It is not I who keeps us apart, so I am unclear as to why it is being implied that I am. Is it being implied? I am overreacting. The She in the kaleidoscope nods and the She in the vastness of space drops her cold uncomfortable demeanour and offers a small, private smile.
Though I found you, Shes sing, this road we walk together isn’t wide. It’s neither wide, nor is it narrow. It’s neither smooth nor is it rough. This road, Shes sing, somehow, you have made it just what I needed. With you, I smile and laugh; with you I cry. With you I am alive. And without you, Shes sing, without you, there is nothing.
Shes stop. Smiles from both.
I hand the kaleidoscope back to the child, who is no longer angry and gives me a grin before taking it and vanishing. The She in the vastness of space is receding from me. She beckons that I follow, and so I do, and we streak through the universe for a further four billion years and there’s a star and there are planets and there’s a blue one and it’s magnificent and we approach it and She’s always just ahead of me, and as we enter the atmosphere the heat is intense and I watch as She burns and is returned to nothing, and I feel the same happen to myself, and we drift on the breezes before finding rest in a trillion places on this magnificent planet.