I’m on my back. The unseasonably cool August grass tickles the back of my neck. But it is not unpleasant. I wish I could describe the feeling, the infiniteness of the stars staring down at me as I, a fraction of a grain of sand, a microcosm in the universe, am gazing up into the midnight sky. I point out The Big Dipper, to no one in particular, it is just a comfort to know that it is always in the sky, as I am always on the ground. Somebody once told me that they think of me when they see The Big Dipper and now I can’t help but to give the lifeless constellation humanoid qualities. When I see The Big Dipper, I see big green eyes and strong arms. I see campfires and singing too loud in the back of the car. I see first kisses and summer camp and I see waterfalls and running through a field holding hands with your best friend. I see love, and longing, and happiness.
I’m on my back and I am as alone as I ever have been, but I feel one with the universe, one with The Big Dipper. It has been two hours since I heard the news, and I am surprisingly okay. I am at peace, more at peace than I think I ever have been. The Big Dipper will be there to hold my hands as I ascend to a place other than here. I will rise to meet the stars and become a piece of the universe, larger than just a speck, more than just an accident in the grand scheme of things.
I’m on my back and, yes, I am okay. I can’t bear to look at my phone, to see tiny people freaking out about tiny things. Everything is wrong, but nothing is wrong. It has been two hours since they found out about the asteroid. The life-ending asteroid that is due to collide with me and everything I love in about twenty-four hours, well twenty-two now.
I’m on my back and I can see clearly for the first time. For the first time in my sorry excuse for nineteen years of life, I know what Charlie meant when he stood up in that tunnel and told me how it felt to be infinite. I wonder what the world is doing, now that it only has twenty-four hours to live. I wonder what the people in Guam and Turkey and Isreal and Denmark are doing with their last day. I wonder how many people are lying on their backs, in the unseasonably cool August grass, looking at The Big Dipper, thinking about their first best friend, thinking about the universe.
I’m on my back and somebody else is here. I sit up and there she is, as if summoned by my imagination. She smiles down at me, the saddest smile I have ever seen. A smile that, I know, is an awful excuse for what she is really feeling. “Come sit,” I say with a sigh.
“I thought you would be here,” she says, “Our place to look up instead of looking down. To look up instead of back, instead of forward. Our place where time stops, and stays still,” my best friend looks at me with a knowing expression that tells me how much she really does get me.
I’m on my back and I’m holding hands with a person that used to be a stranger. Our matching nail polish glistens in the starlight and I close my eyes, remembering the day in sixth grade when this stranger, a girl with the brightest green eyes I had ever seen, offered to sit with me during lunch. I must have been the most lonely looking kid, with two pigtails that I still let my mom do every morning and a brown paper lunch bag, full of carrot sticks and fruit snacks. I slid over and let the green-eyed girl sit next to me. I thought I had scared her away by being too quiet, but the next day, she was back. From then on, we were inseparable. We came up with the Nail Polish Pact, the NPP for short, where if ever we got in a fight, we would paint our nails white the next day, our very own white flags.
I’m on my back and I wave my hands in front of me, white nail polish reflects the glow of the moon. I look over at my friend beside me, and we lock eyes as if daring the other to look away first. I break the eye-lock and turn my gaze back up, back to our now and I can’t help but think that this is my last time feeling the almost too cold August grass on the back of my neck, I will never have a sleepover with my best friend, I will never hug my mom goodnight, or take another math test. I can’t remember the last time I told my parents I loved them.
I’m on my back and I’m regretting. I regret all of the times I never said I love you. I regret all of the times I never spoke my mind when I should have, the times I stayed home when I should have had fun. The times I went out when I should have stayed home. I regret not hugging my friends goodbye, every chance I had. I regret not spending more time with my brother and I regret being mean when I should have been nice. In my nineteen years on this often cruel planet, there is so much I should have done, so much I could have done had I known it would end like this.
I’m on my back and when night turns to day, I know it is almost time. I peer over at my soulmate beside me, and I know she is feeling the same regrets as I am which blankets me in the soft feeling of going home after being away for too long. I revel in the feeling for as long as it lasts, and I don’t need to speak. I know she understands.
I’m on my back and I smell my grandmother’s cookies. I’m on my back and I feel my mother’s soft hands in mine. I’m on my back and I’m in my brother’s room making up stories about futures that we never knew could be taken away. I’m on my back and I hear my father’s voice telling me it is going to be okay even though I know it won’t be. I’m on my back and I feel immeasurably lucky. My best friend is beside me, and I know that when the world caves in, I will not be afraid.
I’m on my back and I look at the stars. The Big Dipper looks down, as it always does. But this time, I close my eyes.