Author: Andrew Schoen

I careen through empty space—somersaulting past the stars. The background of darkness, luminously pinpricked by distant suns, suddenly becomes still. A white flash of light fills my field of vision, jolting me out of this existence.

I wake up to the sound of glass shattering on the tile floor in the kitchen. “Stupid cat,” I whisper under my breath. Wanting to remain in the liminal space between dreamscape and consciousness, I crawl out of bed and gently drift into the kitchen to assess the damage. Naturally, the cat is nowhere to be found—like a comet departing as suddenly as it arrives. Its narrow wake of destruction becomes visible when I flip on the lights hovering above my head: thick fragments of fractured glass strewn about the floor like the constellations observed in my dreams. Between them, tiny cosmic flecks glint in the light. I scan my surroundings until my eyes meet the broom crammed between the fridge and countertop—my destination. Realizing I need to navigate the star-like shards to reach it, I plot a course.

My first step is a success—I plant the ball of my left foot onto an empty space where the shards appear lightyears away from each other. Shifting my full weight onto this emptiness, I contemplate my next landing space: another Sea of Tranquility that should allow for safe landing. I swing my other foot toward it like some extraterrestrial being traversing galaxies with ease. Just before touching down, a hair-like sliver twinkles and catches my eye. But it’s too late to abort—my big toe presses directly onto this infinitesimal splinter. I transmit a gasp into the abyss, muted so as to avoid waking the entire universe.

“One more small step,” I think to myself, “there’s no turning back now.” With gritted teeth, I shuffle my toe away from its initial landing pad, dragging a thin trail of blood across the cold floor. Against a backdrop of infinitely dark tiles, crimson droplets aimlessly float in zero-gravity, bumping into other specks of debris. I take one giant leap toward the broom at the edge of the universe. Finally, I’ve crossed the vast gulf of space that is my kitchen floor—mission accomplished.

In one swift motion, I brush the stars into the dust pan and dispose of them in the state-of-the-art refuse hatch. All that remains on the floor are the remnants of a dead solar system—tiny bits of space dust, chunks of crumbled asteroid, scraps of thawing ice ejected from interplanetary travelers—all separated by great voids of nothingness. A blank slate to be painted upon by the next celestial creator that stumbles across it by chance (or the next mischievous cat who knocks a glass off the countertop).

On my return journey to my dreams, I take a pit stop at the medical bay to repair my toe. A satellite of medical tape makes one, two, three revolutions around the toe before flinging itself out of orbit to redock in its usual space. After flipping the lights off, a thin layer of darkness descends upon my little corner of the universe.

I blindly fumble my way back to bed, hoping to resume my intrepid voyage to yet another starry dimension.