Love- I wade into pools of deep crystal waters and die a thousand metaphysical deaths
"I was born a long time ago on a planet of majestic blue. I named this planet Terra as shew as beauty in every form of the word. She was my little world, orbiting in space, teeming with life. Her history was so magnificent it was woven into the very fabrics of time. She was once an ever-present, ever-growing collection of cultures that had existed at the very center of the galactic hierarchy. Her might matched Mars, and her regal beauty was a thousand times more than the Amazon warriors. And with our holy scriptures we began to brave the unknown in search of something more. In our mighty space shapes we ravaged the empty canvas sky and polluted her into utter darkness. The further we explored the more lost in the universe we became, as unknowingly we destroyed all that which we touched…"
"You've told me this story before father," My daughter's clear voice rang shrilly in my ears, "You've already told me the story of momma's home. I want a new story tonight."
I looked down at the child's face, with her wild hair and freckled face, she was the mirror image of her mother. Caught in the moment, momentarily, I felt the words that came to me so well dry up in my mouth. She crawled into my lap, nuzzling the familiar feel of my withering beard. The words still did not come.
"You said this would be a new story."
Chuckling, I lightly kissed the turned down side of her pouting lips. And I searched for a story, a new one, to delight her. In my mind's eyes I could see it, a story that had been lodged at the back of my thoughts, an old story that had long since riddled away in the darkness of my mind. Yet was she ready to hear this story? With such an intelligent little mind, perhaps she was. I reasoned.
"Alright my little galaxy. A new story."
She squealed in delight and settled herself in the comfort of my arms.
"Once upon a time there was a boy who was not quite so real who fell in love with a girl more real than the Earth."
"But how could be more real than a planet that doesn't even exist anymore?" She demanded.
I continued on, unperturbed by her question, "The boy wasn't a real boy per say, in fact he was a boy made for the humans. See when the humans first began to explore the outer regions of space the neighboring galaxies and planets watched. From their elliptical galaxy the people of the planet observed silently, hidden from view in the folds of their celestial sphere, observing as the humans raced forward eagerly to discover every empty crevice of their glowing, spiraling galaxy. These humans, you see, were not like the people of the Sagittarius. They proudly named moons and stars and planets after old Gods from ancient religions.."
"Prometheus, Io, Rhea, Sedna.." My daughter echoed, smiling at her own knowledge.
I glowed at her brilliance, "Yes my lovely star, the daughter of Titans and princesses of old myths now became immortalized in the Milky Way. And with their holy scriptures they braved the unknown in search of something more, an answer. In their mighty space shapes they ravaged the empty canvas sky and polluted her into utter darkness. And the more they destroyed the more lost in the universe they became."
"But why, father?" My little galaxy demanded, her bright eyes gazing up at me intently.
"Well, my little asterism, humans defined themselves by their own nature; their inevitably to destroy all that which they touched. They brought upon themselves epidemics of cataclysm desistater that near whipped out their populations and polluted their planet producing rains that burned like acid. Due to this nature the surrounding planets and galaxies watched the humans and their destructive ways, warily. Many turned away to allow the species to inevitably self-destruct in their illuminating galaxy. But not those of the Four Globular Clusters, the people of the Sagittarius DE. The curious minds of the Sagittarians were captured, these people hidden amongst the stars, were grasped by the human's uncanny ability to create- a notion that the humans could never comprehend without the ability to destruct."
"But why is that so important?" She asked.
"Well, remember that the story is about a not so real boy and a girl more real than earth. Now first and foremost the reason the girl, so real, was beautiful to this boy, who wasn't quite so real, was because she could create. Her ancestors, long since passed, had built great pyramids of worship, produced weapons of mass destruction, and pondered amongst themselves allegories of deep philosophical meaning. They could sit for hours and argue life, and God, and Goblin Markets. Their dreams even reached beyond realities because they could see past the murky constellations into a galaxy of brilliant, infinite, possibilities.
And she was born to do the same.
But the boy who was not quite so real was born created by the Sagittariun government, society produced him only because they needed him. He was born into a civilization that believed in factual order and logical sequences. Their god had only ever been patterns and the formulation of new conjectures based on a combination of the abstract thought and rational reasoning. This boy was manufactured from scrap parts and bits of solid elements. His metal heart and metal bones were not built to play chess.
"So then why was he built?"
Funny, I had often pondered that very question myself, "He was created in mankind's image so that he could go to them and learn their ways. His creators were, if not despite themselves, curious of this human race that so eagerly explored the outer reaches of the galaxy. The Court of Aodh, the council members of the Sagittariun government, had long been indecisive on what course they should make in their actions. The ancient ones wished to continue to ignore them as many did. But the younger, perhaps more abstract of mind, argued that it would be more logical to go to them and study their ways. They wanted to know if these humans and anything they could teach us. They wondered and argued for years, wandering in a labyrinth of forking paths until finally the council came to an accord. They agreed to create a tool in the human's image, to ease the natural unease of their shapeless forms, that could go to them and learn. This tool would be able to accumulate a plethora of data and present it to the Court so that then the members could come to a definite conclusion.
"But the Court of Aodh… you are speaking of our government…" She whispered fearfully, her human nature had always been unsettled by the Sagittarian's shapeless form.
"Yes, I speak of our planet. The Court of Aodh, you know of them well. These beings of many names have long since existed as beings of pure, blinding light that are ancient and forever. You know their history and their many names, celestials, illuminations, angels, spirits. They have long since burned at the core of time and can see the very twists and turns of the universe. Now the boy created by them to aid in their endeavors was given to things: an empty metal soul and the clear instructions to go and simply learn from these humans."
"Well did he?"
"Did he what?"
She gave an exasperated sigh, "Did he learn from them?"
"What do you think?" I asked, her delicate eyebrows furrowed as she contemplated my question.
"A long time ago, you said that humans were the true masters of creation." She answered, slowly, carefully choosing her words.
"Ah, yes, the Enlightenment, the Great Awaking, the Renaissance, Scientific Revolution… in many ways she was correct. They had an innate curiosity that drove their wandering minds to naturally question the world around them. And their vibrant way of life, so driven by emotions, allowed them to create with their souls. The Court of Aodh have no souls because they have no ability to compose symphonies of wisdom. They too were not built to play chess because this planet, hidden away in their old galaxy of metal-free stars, was not composed of individuals who studied metaphysics or anthropology." I paused to shift positions, letting the effects of my words sink into the both of us before taking a short breathe and continue, "And the mechanical boy, who was not so real, made way to meet these brave human explorers still caught in the Milky Way. He was a metal heart in a manufactured body destined to meet fearless Captains of ancient vessels, born to travel the stars looking for answers that humans couldn't even dream of asking. He boarded voyagers, pioneers, surveyors, and pathfinders, all while carefully filing away the information that these humans gave me.
He could remember them telling me their stories. They told him their tales of golden fame, heroic tragedy, and faded glory. And he watched as it all blurred together, one story forming and morphing into the other. These humans, they were all searching for something they claimed was different but was, at the core, all the same. One Captain in love with the Milky Way while another searched for answers in the Pillars of Creation, and they all asked him the same thing: Who created them? And Why?
Soul searching, and star gazing, in the greater depths of the atmosphere they all wandered the voids of space searching for the same meaning, their purpose. And they told him of Ancient religions where the Sun was believed to be the mighty creator of life while great Pharaohs bowed before this ball of hot plasma in a frenzy of hymns and chants, and he could only wonder why. The humans argued Marxism and Confucianism as they quoted Aristotle and Thoreau to him, all the while whispering legends of empires flourishing under the ocean floor and forests hidden away in the endlessly stretching celestial dome.
And soon, without either of them even realizing it, these mighty humans taught his metal soul how to year and his archived mind to dream."
"But that doesn't make sense because a metal creature can't think outside the realm of his programmed consciousness." She argued. I glowed at my little galaxy's brilliance.
"But you are forgetting something. They gave him an empty metal soul, an inevitable side effect of taking on his human form. This metal creature, like Frankenstein's monster, was created with a mission in mind, but while he dutifully fulfilled his mission something within him was changing and transforming. He learned the inquisitive nature of the humans and recorded a cornucopia of knowledge. And that very knowledge that he was filing away started to take a mind of its own as it lay in the cool, empty darkness of his soul. Now, evolution is a natural human process, and behavioral modernity has long been studied and valued by Earth sociologists, anthropologists, and archeologists. But he was not made to change so he clung to his metal heart, like a crazy wild eyed man, and boarded his final space vessel, the Silver Voyager, to catalog before he made his final journey home. Disguised as a fellow human flying amongst the stars in search of things beyond his understanding he was welcomed onto the Voyager, like so many times before, as a brother and comrade."
"But what about the girl? When does he meet the girl?"
"When the metal boy arrived on the central station of the Silver Voyager he was greeted by the Captain and the Captain's daughter. if the metal man could have understood love he would have realized that it was star-gazing love at first sight. She, this bright eyed young thing with a heart of silver and a soul of titanium, eagerly told the not so real boy of her journeys. And when she spoke, he could see it in her eyes.
We were in the southern sky amidst an open cluster somewhere in the Argo Navis. And even though we were in a massive luminous sphere we were passing through pools of black prism. The outside was as clear as glass and held a dead silence as foreboding as Pandora's Box. It felt like light years as the darkness swallowed us over and over again. And then I saw it. One day, or was it night, in the distance. I could see it clearly now, a vortex of strange dimensions where stars died a thousand metaphorical deaths, where the darkness shut and open with a life of its own, and where the universe scattered and gathered before my very eyes. We moved past wastelands of immense glacial beauty and pristine cosmic cathedrals formed from ancient space-substances that had decayed slowly in the solace of the darkness. And for the first time I could feel something burn within me, an overwhelming desire to be captain of this ship. I wanted to ease this great vessel past these unknown sights with deft care, a clever hand, and a mind as clear as the sky...so that I could become master of my star bleeding Milky Way.
Her words rang through him like ice and fire, burning the cogs in his arms and the wheels in his brain. She had created in him, this human girl who was more real than the twinkling nebula and more cataclysmic than a nove, a heart. From his past observations he had heard her song echoing in every spiraling galaxy and star cluster that he had visited. It had been her night song that had hummed through the constellations, traveling light years of distance in seconds of time. It had been her words that had been a faint whisper following him from space ship to space ship, manifesting itself into various forms, but now he could hear it so clearly.
Her cry had resounded within him, reverberating in his cold metal heart, and filling his imagined soul with a plethora of sensations and sentiments that had created for him. He had passed days and nights dreaming of her without even realizing it, until now. Skipping stones in the Milky Way, tracing stars in the Andromeda Galaxy, and all the while recording the human civilizations sporadic structure until now. He could see it. A vision of him standing on his home planet, the tip of the arrow of the centaur constellation, and as he looked across the Gamma Sagittarii he could feel greatness wash over his metal frame as her song murmured in the distance."
"So he loved her because she could sing?" She interrupted.
"No. He loved her because she could help him dream.
"Once a long time ago, at the beginning of his mission, when his dreams were of himself dreaming, it was then that a question began to bother him. He scanned his mind searching for the answer but no mathematical solution came to him. With the permission of the captain, a kind old soul who had saved space whales and fought galactic pirates, the metal boy pondered and poked around the library. The library was an airborne shrine of ancient books that preserved the last of the Earth's oldest fables.
And here was where we went to work studying picnics and analyzing bubble gum. He experimented with crayons, glue, and stamps. And he even, unintentionally of course, locked himself in a stalemate war between robot and unrelenting glitter. When he finally succeeded in whipping the last of the sparkling particle from his metal elbow, he was still unable to unlock the mystery of being human."
"And she taught him what it meant to be human?"
"She truly did. But she was already in love with someone, or perhaps something: A spiraling, twirling, galaxy that lay stretched across the line of the Virgo Supercluster."
"The Milky Way Galaxy?"
"Yes, my twinkling star. She fell in love with the galaxy, and death paved way with the stars."
"Death? But didn't the metal man loved her? Why couldn't he save her?"
"He stayed with her ship for a month. A month he spent learning her hopes and dreams, falling more hopelessly, romantically, classically, in love with her. But she was also a broken soul. She was a mechanic flower in need of repair, and unfortunately he couldn't see it until the very end."
"The end of what?" She asked.
I continued on. "It was his last night on the ship, his last night before he was programmed to change his destination from scouring earthships to his home planet. The metal boy wandered through the vessel, aimlessly it seemed, and yet his feet unwittingly carried him to her room. Opening the door he could see the faint illumination of her figure lit up by the starli wash of milk splashed across the unending skies. Her loose hair floated majestically around her head; she had smashed the windows of her room and deactivated the gravity belt. He could see only one cord that connected her to the ship, only one cord that kept her from slipping away.
'The stars are quiet tonight,' he said, entering the room. What an idiot, he thought, the stars are always quiet because there was no air to carry the sonic vibrations.
She acted as if she hadn't heard him, her eyes gazing out at the endless void in front of her. Perhaps she truly hadn't heard him as her back remained turned to the door, away from him.
But regardless of the technicality, the stars were indeed quiet that night. Rising and falling, breathing and whirling, they pricked against the velvet cushion of space in sheets of black and navy. The Silver Vessel was suspended on airless wings, breathlessly smiling and winking at the sun, while thousands of light-years off a supernova spiraled and recycled into new worlds. But only two people, or perhaps one person and one half a person, sat at the tip of this great vessel staring out into the empty stretches of time and space.
'Am I real?' she asked suddenly, turning to him, her voice like a whisper of solar wind on a fleeting aurora.
He was shocked. How could she ask such a question? And to him of all people, or half people.
'Of course you are real. You who sows stories in my heart and the impossible in my eye. You who gave me a reality that was not quite mine because you are so real it boils over and reaches even me..'
'Maybe you're not real, Milky way,' she continued, her glazed eyes like a marble wall that existed only for his words to bound off of, 'Perhaps this is what you're telling me with your taciturn silence. I've mistaken it for an answer but it's only a cold, cursory glance. I could have stood by the door and waited watching wars of attrition as my red badge of courage crumples to the ground. I am always waiting. Perhaps, someday, you'll unfold like paper cranes and the truth will hit me with its stinging whiplash.'
'What would the Milky way know?' He demanded, 'Ninety percent of it is dark matter, dark matter has no feeling or form.'
'I have already decided my fate, but what of my child's?' She sobbed, bringing her little porcelain fingers up to her beating heart, 'What will become of my child?'
'What child?' He asked, thoroughly perplexed. She had never mentioned a baby before, although he had only been on their space ship for some days. He had never heard the cry of a little one or even knew of its existence for that matter.
She tried to propel herself to him, her usual grace was lost with the gravity as if cast aside into the dark matter hidden away in the wilderness of space. He moved closer to her and she grabbed his collar with a force he couldn't fathom. She peered up to him yet looked past him, her crystal tears like stellar nucleosynthesis.
'I have a baby girl on this ship. She will die without me, my father is not a man meant to raise children. He will whirl her into his world of unending emptiness, a Captain of a the ship but never of the heart. You, my friend, please promise me you will take care of her. Promise, please!' She demanded forcefully her eyes never meeting his.
'I promise!' He spluttered out.
Her face dazed over with these words, 'Then kisses me. Seal your fate with my lips. Dead metal man, you hold no secrets. Saprotrophic! Only now can you speak? You, who I see shudders at his own existence speak now! Your whisper floats like intoxicating colored butterflies that flutter frantically in my mind. Again! A man, not a man, caught in between fantasy and reality. You stand before me, and I curse you. You may have caught me in my moments of delusion but I know the truth. You flitted in and out of my babbling maladies as you exist somewhere between heaven and hell and everywhere else in between. You stand there laughing in your blooming garden promising me the taste of salvation but I truly know salvation. Kiss me kissing the dice of star-crossed lovers…'
And he kissed her.
It was a swift movement, a sudden shift in the atmosphere. It was an action brought by his long-standing longing to do so and his desire to end this mad chanting that was escaping her lips and bounding out into the empty, vapid nothingness that surrounded them. His metal lips pressed against her warm ones, her breath felt like faded daffodils and she tasted of melted butterscotch and sunshine.
A dazed, crooked smile appeared on her face and for the first time that conversation she looked at him. A sad, faint, yearning smile worn on her face and she said, 'You're right. What would the Milky Way know anyway? There are one hundred billion galaxies in this universe, but only one reason to die.'
The girl more real than Earth looked at the boy who was not quite as real and took a deep breath: 'Don't forget your promise,' She whispered.
And sliced the cord."
I could feel the silence pounding in my head. My daughter's eyes bore in on my, her questioning eyes penetrating my soul as they so often did. The familiarity of this story was frightening her.
"That was the worst story ever!" She wept, "I don't understand anything you said. He was a machine, she was a human, but he loved her, and she loved an inanimate world? You can't be in love with the Milky Way. Yet, she had a child, and then killed herself. Or she had a child for a while but still killed herself. But either way, she committed suicide while being a mother? This is an awful story, why would you ever tell me this?"
I looked at my darling galaxy, my old eyes peering down at her. After a moment's pause I asked, "Is that all that you think of it?"
"I just don't understand. Why would she do that?"
"I'm not sure. And neither was that metal boy."
"She was crazy, right?"
"Maybe she was sick of life."
"Or perhaps she was yearning to find another one."
"You still make no sense, father. Why do you speak to me in these riddles?" I refused to answer so she continued her questions, "But what about the metal boy? And what happened to the baby?"
"The metal boy lived to be a metal man who took care of the earthbound child as if she were his own. He carried her away in his space shape to his home, the Sagittarius DE Galaxy, so that she could wake up every morning, look up into the sky, and see her home galaxy shining bright. He feed her stories of her ancestors and warm chocolate chip cookies so that she too could grow up to be real."
"But Daddy! That's where we live," She cried out in surprise.
I continued, the story had to be finished now, "The metal man loved his daughter's quiet, earthy charms. And this child helped him cup rose melon dew in his old weathered hands above her mother's empty grave. Divinity allowed them to trace the mother's forgotten name, her name which was the honey on his tongue and the rotting in his toes. He drummed tales in his daughter's little seashell ear, a little extraordinary. But it was all to teach her to be real, like her mother. He spoke of sapid diamonds, lurid leprechauns, and fairytales in a space ship far away all the while watching the whirl of her blue eyes, like the ancient skies of time, breathing in his every word."
"Daddy, who is this little girl? Does she have a name?" The little girl asked, breathlessly, her eyes like illuminating crystal orbs glistening in the light.
He smiled down at her, "You know who the girl is."
His statement was met with confusion.
"What?" She asked.
He could only continue to smile, "I'm in love with the galaxy."
My first short story re-posted and edited some more
Thank you, Jenny