Author : Gray Blix

“I don’t see anything, mommy. I want to go inside.”

He was lying in his child-sized lounge chair next to her adult-sized lounge.

The nights were clear and warm in Stella’s corner of the world after the astronomers’ announcement, so people looked up at the sky expecting to see new stars pop into view every few minutes, like flashes of light during a meteor shower. They were disappointed. It was too soon to see the phenomenon with naked eyes. Not enough photons reached earth. Only telescopes with special lenses and cameras that accumulated light over long time periods and recorded them as digital photos proved the astronomers correct. Since only astronomers had such equipment, a lot of people didn’t believe. They thought it was a scheme to get government funding.

“All right, Todd. Get ready for bed. I’m going to lie here awhile longer.”

The photos weren’t very convincing. Views of a distant glowing cloud. And there was no catchy name for the phenomenon, since scientists weren’t sure what it was. A rebound from the Big Bang — the Big Crunch? Or the opposite, cosmic expansion speeding up and tearing the universe apart — the Big Rip? Or another universe crashing into ours like a tsunami, piling up galaxies in a wave of debris sweeping towards us — a Cosmic Collision? Even ten years later, when the brightening night sky was apparent to all, scientists still couldn’t agree on what it was or what to name it, but a journalist called it “Starshine,” which caught on.

Through the screen, “Mom, that guy is at the door. Should I send him back here? I’m going over to Kristi’s house to study.”

“All right. Send him back. And you be home by 11:00. No excuses.”

As her son’s car backed out of the driveway, Craig pulled a lounge next to hers and joined her looking up at the night sky.

“Todd still won’t call me by my name.”

“He’ll come around.” Unbuttoning his shirt, “And I’m glad you came around.”

“What if Todd comes back?”

“He’s going to have sex with his girlfriend… so you can have sex with yours.”

As more years passed, people grew increasingly fearful, turning to religious leaders, to politicians, and to scientists for answers. Could the stars be stopped before Earth was destroyed? Amidst prayers and proclamations of martial law, scientists explained that even though the approaching galaxies appeared to be a solid wall of light, individual stars were actually far apart and none might pass close enough to collide with our Sun and its planets. Of course, they downplayed the likelihood that even if it escaped direct hits, our solar system would be torn apart by the gravity of massive objects passing nearby and pulling us into the wave.

Stella closed her eyes against the starshine. She didn’t know what time it was. She didn’t care. When nights became as bright as days, daylight saving time was abandoned. Time itself was abandoned by many. Unless you had a job or other time commitments, what did it matter when you slept or ate or did anything else?

As Craig closed the screen, Todd whispered, “She hasn’t said a word since we got here. The baby’s sound asleep, but maybe we shouldn’t go to the service.”

“No, no, you two go ahead. I’ll watch the baby… and your mom.”

He sat in a lounge next to hers and took her hand.

She looked over, “They said it was billions of light years away. That’s billions of trillions of miles.” Looking up, “And yet, twenty years later, here it is.”

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