I pull down her pants. A thatch of curly brown hair greets me. I lean in and inhale her, she smells like twilight after the rain, like a dream barely gleamed, like heaven. I have never loved until this moment, I realize that now, I was like an infant playing with the concept of God; I had not even began to fully understand what the word meant until this very moment.
Inside the pod a light begins to flash, it has been programmed for this purpose. A series of very specific bursts of illumination begins a cascade of synaptic nerves firing. Neurotransmitters carry complex signals to the brain. Within moments, the man in the pod begins to stir.
His sleep has been the thing of fables; it has been that of gods and trolls, dragons and beauties. During his slumber, religions, empires, races have all risen and fallen.
The faintest hint of life—and eye fluttering open—sends a tiny whirl of air sweeping through the pod. It is the first significant action to take place within for over a million years.
The blinking light is accompanied by a melodious chime. A soft series of beeps issue from speakers embedded in the pod on either side of his head. The sounds float like ghosts down forgotten hallways to his brain, electrons spark across grey matter, feelings, emotions…memories, dance through his mind.
The cycle runs through to completion. With a snap followed by an extensive hiss, the pod’s seal breaks and slowly, mechanically, the top hatch lifts.
Inside his head, the memories swirl like a vortex. He is age three and it is Christmas morning. A shinny red tricycle awaits him underneath the Christmas tree. He is fourteen and starting his first day of high school. He is not prepared for the experience and wants to run home. He is seventeen and he has lost his virginity. He thinks he is in love, he is wrong. He is nineteen and he works in the kitchen at a family restaurant. He hates the job but hates school more. He is twenty-five and he stands solemnly at his parents’ funeral. Their deaths are still so unexpected that he has not been able to fully absorb them. He is thirty-six and works at a factory. The money is good but the hours are terrible. He is forty and he sees her for the first time. She takes his breath away. He is forty-two and they have been together for almost a year. He has never been happier. He has found true love. He is forty-four and he sits outside of a doctor’s office; he wrings his hat between his hands as he waits for something…anything to take him away from there. He is forty-six and the last year has been as close to hell as he has ever been. The days are filled with medication and monitoring. He is forty-seven and the world around him has lost all meaning. The sun can no longer warm him, she is gone…forever. He is forty-eight and he has the vision. He is forty-nine and he begins work on the ship. He is fifty-six and he is almost finished. He is fifty-seven and with a final breath he activates the autopilot and lays down for sleep in the pod. He is sixty-one and he is sleeping. He is a hundred and forty-nine and he is sleeping. He is fourteen hundred and six and he is sleeping. He is two-hundred thousand, four hundred and ninety-one and he is sleeping. He is eight-hundred thousand and seventeen and he is sleeping. He is one million, fifty-eight thousand and two and he is sleeping.
Now he is awake.
With bones older than some stars, the man moves.
The memories continue their unflinching montage. The man does not want to remember any longer, he can’t bare it.
I let her pull me in, she is Eden and I am Adam. I feel God’s light on me as I enjoy the finest fruit the universe has ever known. I lose myself in the pleasure; around me the world melts away until it is just the two of us. We dance our way into perfect synchrony.
He climbs from the pod, his body creaks like a forgotten prayer, like neglected faith. Aches and pains have their way with his impossibly old frame.
The ship was designed to do one thing and one thing only: transport a sleeping passenger. Because of this, there was nothing more to the ship than a room big enough for the pod and a view port to look out of. Indeed even being awake was using up the very small amount of oxygen inside the cabin. He wasn’t worried though because as he stumbled towards the view port he could see that the ship’s programming had functioned just as intended. He was right where he wanted to be.
The planet before him was immense.
Touchdown was surprising gentle.
The hatch to the shuttle opened smoothly considering the unimaginable distance and time it had traversed.
The spacesuit, which had been carbon packed in a small cube along the wall opposite his sleep pod, fit him perfectly. It felt like yesterday that he had sealed the suit in the cube but then again it had only been yesterday; over three hundred and sixty-five million nights all in one.
The scene before him was exactly what he had seen in his vision. Lights danced as nature and technology melded together. The city extended out like the tides, it was majestic and awe-inspiring. He did not take in the view for long however before he climbed down from the ship—now powering down for the last time—and he began walking towards the spires of glass and technology, of air and circuits.
Our time together stretches into infinity but that is not enough, even infinity is as short as a blink of an eye when compared to the vastness of love.
With a final explosion which causes the stars the move, the heavens to shake; we finish.
We are thrust back into the reality we started in, back into a bed in a house on a street in a city in a country on the world in the universe. We are small again but it doesn’t matter because for a moment we were gods, for a brief moment we sat atop the galaxy and nothing else mattered, everything else in existence was beneath our notice. With panting breath and sweaty skin we lay. I know that I have never felt love like this before. I would do anything for this woman. She is my core…my sun; she is everything that ever was and ever will be. I would do anything for her.
The grass beneath his feet was soft, each step was a pleasure.
As the city grew before him he couldn’t help but think of his journey. After her…departure from his life, he was racked with sadness so profound that his soul could not escape its pull; his spirit tottered on the edge of an event horizon which threatened to damn him forever. But then he had the vision, he saw this place, the home of the creators; he saw how to construct the ship. And now, after eons, he was ready to ask them; where is she? Where do our souls go when we die? Surely they who gave us thought and will and compassion and…love, surely they had to know.
So he would walk boldly into their city of perfection, he would demand they tell him where to find her and then he would go there. Even if he had to build another ship and fly to another universe, even if he had to sleep for a million more years, a billion more, he would do it. Because he knew that no amount of time, no area of space was as big as love.
One thought on “As Big As Love”
I love this story. I think it is your best short format story so far. You manage to say a lot without a ton of extra words. It’s a clean and thought provoking story. Well done Christan, keep it up.