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"SUPERNOVA" by RICH KOELE

The Birth of the Universe

We were there, lined up, waiting for our turn to look. Everyone was talking about these universes that chaotically popped into existence, and now was our chance to see one.

“It sounds like such fun,” S said to me one day, “to be created, to begin anew.” Her smile radiated like starlight and dispersed a moment later. “I wish it could be us all over again.”

It was true; our birth was so long ago that we began to think of ourselves as never born and always existing. Such thoughts of immortality came up from time to time, more often since we joined the queue.

But the queue rarely moved. Or it moved at such a glacial, time-denying pace that we nearly froze to our places. I reminded S of the cosmic vista that awaited us, and the prospects of such a view rallied our spirits.

“Creation?”  S often said to me quizzically. “What do you think it will look like?”

Though I had my own ideas about the primordial turmoil of an incandescent sea, words seemed inadequate. It was a task either for poets or scientists, and I was neither. I would shrug and kiss her on the cheek. In our lives we were oblivious to change—how could we fathom creation? Indeed, just how big is a big bang?

For ages, the papers were full of stories about curved space-time, singularities, and event horizons. No one believed they had anything to do with us, and we took it all in as the sort of time management tips we couldn’t apply, or simply, as news of the weird. But when the portal opened up, a new mood of curiosity swept through us, and suddenly, that was all anyone could talk about.

Isn’t it exciting?!

Marvelous!

Unbelievable!

A perpetual refrain of incredulity. Early on, the queue itself was jubilant, like a carnival of saltimbanques unable to stand still, and it was then I realized how starved we’d been for something—anything—that was new.

By the time S and I joined, we feared the front of the queue was a myth.

We’d heard rumors of line-crashers, of people who had given up hope and refused to move, of the lucky ones, who, after waiting for ages, got to the portal and couldn’t tear their eyes away—but we held on to it as a sort of universal truth, that we were all there for a reason, and one day we, too, would witness a terrible beauty being born.

Copyright 2007 by Daniel Hudon

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Daniel writes:
This is one of a series of stories I'm writing, inspired by the work of Italo Calvino and Jorge Luis Borges, about taking real characters and putting them in surreal or fantastic situations, as in this one, where the two people are essentially observers of our or another universe coming into being. I first thought of a queue and then wondered: what would people really want to line up for?

Daniel Hudon, originally from Canada, has lived in Boston for four years, where he teaches natural science to humanities students at Boston University. He has published literary prose in Descant, Grain, The Antigonish Review, and The New Quarterly. He has work coming up in Neon and Bayou Magazine, and his book, The Bluffer's Guide to the Cosmos, should be published later this year by Oval Books (UK).

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