Little Ramon Huang was in love. His child’s mind too small for him to process this particular complexity, all he could do was lay on his back, stare at the stars he longed for, and cry.
The older he grew, the more his passion consumed him. He read about space at all hours of the day and observed the night sky until the cold chased him inside.
In fifth grade, during recess, a slight burn in his lungs made him slow down. This felt different from the normal result of physical exertion. He had to work harder to get air into his lungs, like breathing through a straw.
“Asthma,” the doctor said, “relatively minor.”
But it was enough to send his astronaut-dreams catapulting into space without him.
Ever resourceful, Ramon altered his direction. He studied hard, graduated with honors, and worked at an observatory. If he couldn’t physically be in space, he’d send his mind there every night when he pressed his face to the telescope’s eyepiece.
Solar eclipses, transits, and conjunctions crawled by, and Ramon could describe each with impeccable detail. In a future calendar, he circled the week of 21 July 2020. He’d made a date with comet NEOWISE.
On 5 July 2020, while crossing the street, a car struck Ramon. The police report said the driver was searching for a napkin to wipe the soda off his shirt when he heard a rumble on his hood. The driver slammed on his brakes, but the car didn’t stop until half a block later, long after Ramon had landed on the asphalt.
When Ramon opened his eyes, he saw only darkness. He shivered in the cold. He tried to wrap his arms around himself but found he could not do so. “Am I in the hospital?” he asked.
No one answered.
After an age, he sensed one dot of light. Then another. And countless more around him. Connecting them, he realized they were familiar. He’d spent years gazing up at the Gemini constellation.
But that was before, when he was firmly held to earth’s bosom by gravity. Now he flew among the stars.
Behind him was the cerulean tail, magnificent and miles long because he’d passed the sun only days ago. Days. What a concept! Time as a construct required a definitive change to signify day and night. Now, Ramon had neither.
He had eons.
He progressed on his trajectory, and eventually became aware of excitement emanating from a point in the black. Were he on earth, he would have been there, too—with telescope and camera—among the enthusiasts with binoculars aimed at the sky.
“I am—” He stopped short. He’d wanted to shout his name as he went past, but realized he could no longer recall it. No matter. He would go on, shimmering and crackling with more energy than he could ever muster on his former home.
In several millennia, he’ll return.
Sabina Y. Wong (she/her) lives in a tiny apartment in Los Angeles made from the hundreds of books in her TBR. Her work is featured in Full House Literary, Provenance Journal, Gastropoda Lit Mag, and Janus Literary. Another piece is forthcoming in Gutslut Press. Though she’s supposed to be writing, she may often be found on Twitter and Instagram @SabinaYWong.