A Blank Cosmos
I’ve lived in dense cities across New England nearly all my life. It’s easy to grow accustomed to cities like Boston and Portland and the busyness they come with. Something is always happening somewhere. Students cramming for test or partying for relief. Cars commuting nine to five and every other hour. There is always noise and there is always light in the city, which is why the quiet darkness that comes with the countryside comes as such a shock.
In the countryside you’re lucky to hear anything at night that isn’t an animal breathing or the howling of the wind. But slowly overtime, you grow accustomed to those noises as well. The lights of the city streets are replaced by the stars in the sky, unhindered by pollution. A few weeks ago I might’ve even recommended you try to see the clear night sky. Not anymore.
I learned to pass the time laying atop the roof stargazing. I’d even saved up enough for a telescope. Nothing fancy, but I could see more. The constellations and planets became like a second language, a scripture that hovered above. I really wish you could’ve seen it. It was beautiful. I don’t think the people I left behind in those cities noticed as soon as I did, not that they could see the sky as clear.
It happened in the summer, when the humidity and heat came to a peak and the only solace was the cool air of the early morning. I’d woken up early and sat staring upward. Dawn was still hours away and there wasn’t a single cloud. A perfect view of infinity. It was a while before I had noticed.
Many of the constellations get their names from Greek and Roman mythologies. Hydra, Pegasus, the hunter Orion perhaps the most well known. My personal favorite, because of the mythology, was Hercules. It was my favorite, I should’ve noticed.
There are four stars that compose Hercules’ torso, Eta, Zeta, Epsilon, and Pi Herculis, and they were gone. I believed my eyes were playing tricks. That the lenses were dirty or something had passed overhead. The other stars and cluster were missing. In Ursa Major and Draco and Sagittarius. I’d lost trust in my eyes. I should’ve taken a picture of what was left. A keepsake.
The next night there were less and the night after even more were gone. It continued, more and more lights in the sky disappeared. Hercules had completely gone in August. It wasn’t until the beginning of Autumn that Proxima Centauri, our closest neighbor, joined the others, leaving the sky empty. Maybe it is the emptiness above, but everything feels colder. Dead.
With the night sky blank, not even the moon left, I sometimes wonder when our own star will disappear. I suppose I’ll know when I wake up to darkness. Or nothing at all.
I wish you could’ve seen it. The end of everything.
The cosmos was beautiful.