Wednesday, December 15, 2004

vignette: the road to pleiades

There is a star in the middle of my eye. When I blink, I send panic throughout the universe.

Everybody gives in to temptation some time. It is not a matter of willpower or faith or providence. The fine line between thought and action is not a line at all. To think of sin is to sin. This means I’ve done the deed with more than my fair share, all of them unaware. Including you.

From the common room’s porthole, I can only see an endless black, speckled by the occasional smattering of pinprick light. The glass (is it glass?) that separates me from the void outside is regulation thick and impossible to break. I’ve tried.

I first heard you sing my name when I was five years old. I was playing in the Atellant Room, floating with the other children in the happy zero-G, unaware that just an hour earlier, my mother had died. I loved her, I did. I loved that old woman whose smile was like brilliant light, and I know she loved me. Later, I would be told that she had died in an accident in the medilab; something to do with polymer dust. But really, I think she killed herself – because sometimes, you start thinking and thinking and thinking. Anyway, it was when I was floating, unaware that my mother had died, that I heard you sing my name. You sang it, and your voice and your melody made my name more beautiful than nebulae, more precious than heat. That’s how I remember me remembering you: floating and precious. It’s lovely, I know.

The problem with everybody knowing everybody else is that there is no room for privacy, except in the mind. There are other 3,717 people here, all of us on slow voyage to a mythical star, and I despise every single one of them. Yes, even little baby Remuel, with his missing eye. We all eat together, sleep together, work together, live together. Perhaps we all even die together, but I’d prefer to die alone. When everyone else whose turn it is to sleep is sleeping, and when I’m certain that the awake shift is nowhere in sight, I plunge

down deep into the void of my mind, into the emptiness, velvet and cold, blacker than darkness and unfathomable by poets or lovers or spacemen. I float and listen to your call, your voice that travels the emptiness on particles of dark matter or quantum strings or solar winds or as passenger on an invisible comet’s tail. I hope that your trajectory finds me, I know you know who I am: you’ve called me by name. Here I am! Look, watch me blink: there, there is my coded message that you must

decode before panic rends the universe.


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