A Tale of A Trillion Years and One Night

Submitted into Contest #39 in response to: Write a story that begins and ends with someone looking up at the stars.... view prompt



I’ll tell you a story of a trillion years and one night.

When you climbed up those perilous hills and gazed up at the star-spangled skies—not now, of course, because you’re probably gazing, with your narrow-sided view, upon that hazy screen of yours—but a few years from now. Or maybe a good couple of decades. Who knows? My memory fails me more than it serves.

But regardless of the time, you will.

Lugging that heavy, black bags of yours, stuffed to the brim with telescopic equipment. You’d be with a companion or two, people insignificant to me, but surely significant to you. Why else would they embark with you, on a seemingly pointless journey like so, if they did not cherish you like family? Laugh at me. Say that you know nobody of the sort. Say that you are a hopeless failure no one would love. What I know is that a few years from now, a few decades from now, you will find them, and they will engrave their marks with you, a trillion years from now, within my mind.

You’d be gone by then, naturally. Give it a few more decades, and you will pass on; give it a few hundred more millennia, and the earth you live on will be consumed by the very sun upon which all life is found. All things must come to an end. Even another trillion years later, I might be gone, like my brothers and sisters that encircle me, dissipating into dust and debris. But this is not a tale about that. Because that is something you surely already know.

What you don’t know is that you will be remembered, a trillion years from now, on that one night when you went stargazing.

‘I haven’t the slightest interest in the night sky,’ you might complain. But that’s the you, as you are right now. Can you account for the actions of yourself a few years later? Anything can happen. People, for instance, are constantly changing. Signals fire back and forth between the trillions of synapses of your brain every day, what can you say if one day they decide to declare an interest in the stars? Or hiking? Or even cooking, photography, stamp collecting— you never know, do you?

But even if you don’t believe me, I’ll still tell you this story.

You fiddled with your scope, your companions that laughed as they tried to help. But in the end you couldn’t figure it out, the lenses depicted nothing but a black emptiness. What an amateurish attempt, you’d lament to yourself. You’d feel disappointed, not only at the lost promise of the telescope, but yourself. The trees swayed in the wind, the night skies seemed so close yet so far out of reach. None of them did anything to assist you.

In fact, you’d eventually declare the entire trip an abject failure. How disappointing, you’d say, how far you’ve come, only to be halted by a simple failure of the technology you’d always relied on. I recall a certain human being who once mentioned how anything could go wrong, given the wrong place, and the wrong time, in the worst way. What a pessimist, I thought. And one of your friends quoted so to you, which only served to drive your disappointment home.

At this point, you’d be wondering, why is it that I am telling this to you now? To remind you of how disappointing and hopeless life can be? To tell you that it’s futile to push forward? Perhaps that’s what you’ve felt for your entire life, in the depths of the night haunted by your own ghosts, kneeling in the face of reality when it’s giving you a hard slap to the face. Maybe the lesson you’d derive from this is that it is pointless to ever climb those hills, to ever go stargazing, so you’d ditch your telescope in the back room of your house, and drag forward with your life. I’m telling you, that is not my intention. Certainly not. Why would people want to write stories about saddening things?

The telescope has failed, so instead you spread a blanket and declared a midnight picnic. That was the least you could salvage, you decided. Rather than trudging down the hill again, the hill you spent an entire day to climb. Throughout this, you’d persist in fiddling with your telescope, hoping for a miracle.

I am no God. I couldn’t grant anyone a miracle. I’m just an observer, and in this case, a messenger. I’ll tell you that what happened next most certainly didn’t qualify for a miracle. But things don’t have to be miracles to make a person happy, don’t they?

With that heart of persistent stubbornness of yours, you adjusted this and that, moving the telescope here and there, until finally, your scrunched-up eyes peering through the lenses, within which flickered the final light of hope—they connected with something.

Up in the darkness of the night sky, you saw something. A faint star flickering in the background, shrouded by the glow of so many other brighter stars.

You must’ve been overjoyed. You didn’t manage to find Altair. You didn’t find Vega, Sirius, Deneb, Spica. But you did find that single, unknown star that has maybe been assigned a name, but nobody would know about unless they were diehard astronomers. You saw that star, clear as day in the malfunctioning telescope. You were so excited. You called forth your friends.

They were overjoyed.

You glanced at me, for that brief moment of levity, before you tried adjusting something again and it all faded to black. Just like that. That was the end of it. You went back to your picnic. You’d wonder what star that was, an afterthought lingering in the back of your head.

But because you came up that hill with that malfunctioning telescope on that very day, I was seen for the very first time.

I, a star with no history, barely a name, and no story to tell, could only narrate a tale of one night, a tale of a human being that, completely by accident, paid attention to this tiny little star and felt overjoyed.

No matter where you are now, no matter what you are doing, no matter what your life has been like up until this point, I want you to know.

That on a fateful night atop a hill, you made a distant star like me happy.

And I will be reciting your joyfully accidental tale a trillion years from now.

I hope I, at least, gave you something to smile about.

Can you gaze up at the skies for me now? Tell me you can hear me. Even if you cannot see me beyond the clouds and the lights, tell me you are there, reading this tale of an ordinary person.

I’ll be waiting atop the peaks of those hills.

April 26, 2020 14:32

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Crystal Lewis
04:54 May 03, 2020

I really like how you made the star feel like a person and, to me, the whole story read as a metaphor of how even small actions can mean a lot to someone. Well done. :)


Haruko Otonashi
13:02 May 03, 2020



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