• Iris Adams

The Star That Fell in Love with a Shadow

Once upon a time there was a starry queen, a supernova at the center of the universe, she was wedded to a Planetary Nebula, a king of the farthest reaches. They birthed a daughter, a princess to inherit the known universe and bring galaxy upon galaxy together in her light.

A star for all stars, they named her “Brightest Hope” for all their love and all their wishes for the future. Brightest Hope was configured at the edge of the universe, birthed of dust and hydrogen, her whole world bursting into brilliance in one moment.

Her parents smiled upon the newest era yet to come and waited for new stellar bodies to join their newborn daughter. Her pull was enormous and range expansive, Brightest Hope would attract all things to her- and bring warmth to them.

She condensed and breathed and expanded, dust to dust and the beginning of all things. But nothing came.

No planets formed, no meteors touched her range, no ice or burning lands or even a stray asteroid belt arose across her enormous orbit. Nothing came.

“Mother,” Brightest Hope called, “father, why am I alone?”

Her parents crooned softly, “wait my dear, wait, you are not done growing. Your pull will one day attract all things.” So Brightest Hope waited, in the dark, in the cold, her insides surging with flares of life and burning up the sky. But no heavenly bodies joined her.

“Mother,” she cried, “father, why am I alone?” “Wait, dear child,” her mother hushed, “you are not done. You will be the light to thousands, a hope for all. Worry not.” Brightest Hope surged across the corner of the universe, growing red and larger than all things. She waited in the dark and the cold, only the most distant dots appeared on her horizon.

“Mother, father,” she wept, “I’m larger than I have ever been, why am I alone?” Her parents voices were distant by then, losing strength against the winds of time and their own insides burning out. Her mother spoke in whispers, a neutron star with her royal head bent, “do not lose heart daughter. You are still the hope of many galaxies, your time will come.” Brightest Hope whimpered, “I am so alone. My heart is empty, must I wait for so long?” “You must bear it,” her father said weakly, his center burning into nothing but a White Dwarf. “You are the promised one, they wait for you.” Brightest Hope grew silent, she was promised. She must be brave.

A century passed with her light growing. But she couldn’t help it, it such a hungry, nothing place all by herself, her light gave no joy or life to anything. She began to despair once more.

She wept for herself, in the cold and the dark. And then she heard something, a rumble, slippery and absolute, a voice she had never heard before. “Don’t cry princess,” it called from every directions, “for I am with you.” Brightest Hope searched, feeling out in every corner of her orbit and finding nothing. “Who is there?” She called, tears drying. “Where are you?” “I am right beside you,” the voice answered, “I have always been with you, my dearest light.” “Who?” She shone her light in all directions, “who?” “You know of me, I know you,” she whispered back, “my love, the dark is always with you.” Brightest Hope blazed all the brighter, “stay away!” She called, “you are the evil of this universe. You wish nothingness upon us all.” “No,” the darkness whispered back, “my brightest heart, I do not wish nothingness, for without you I am not even a thought. You are everything.”

Brightest Hope dimmed, “I am not anything to this universe.” She said bitterly, “I am alone.”

The darkness surrounded her, “you are never alone.” Brightest Hope suddenly felt the presence in all directions, immense, ancient as all things, “I am here.” Brightest Hope thought of this softly, deeply. “Lady of dead space, darkness,” she said slowly, “I am promised to bring galaxy upon galaxy together." “Yes,” she answered, “come to me, I will show you.” “No!” The queen’s voice screeched. “Do not listen to the witch. Do not go to the emptiness daughter.” “Brightest Hope,” her father wheezed in turn, “turn away from her, don’t give in.” At the sound of her parents voices Brightest Hope retreated. She turned away, “I can never go with you.”

“As you wish,” the witch of darkness murmured. “But I will ask again.”

Brightest Hope grew silent and larger yet, waiting in the dark and the cold, ignoring the soft words of the beckoning emptiness. She would be the hope of many, she must wait as her parents said and not listen to the lovely words of the space beyond.

She told herself this day after day.

And then it was all too silent and all too empty, she could bear it no longer. “Darkness,” she called, “I am larger than I have ever been. Do you know why I am alone?” She spoke softly, only carrying to her outer reaches.

“Yes,” replied the witch, “but it doesn’t need to be so. I can change it for you.” Brightest Hope’s heart pulsed, “you can fix me?” She burst, and then sank again, “but I cannot go to you.” She spoke carefully, “you are hateful, the destroyer. I know of you.”

“No,” replied the darkness, “I am not hate. I am not your enemy.” She gave a long pause, “I love you.” Brightest Hope went quiet, her light expanding but her heart shivering deep in her core. “Father, mother,” she called, just loud enough. “Who am I to be? I am growing hollow.” “Wait,” they replied in tune, barely audible, “do not go to the darkness. You are still our star.” “I hear you,” she began to quiver, redder than she had ever been and feeling the aching chasm inside of her. “Won’t you come to me? Save me?” “We cannot.” And they grew silent, “you must bear this too.” Brightest Hope hung lower in the heavens and waited for the planets and galaxies that were promised. She slowly moved through space, growing closer and closer to the nearest dots of light. She cut out the darkness, ignoring her voice and pushing away her presence.

Objects drew closer, she could hear their voices, “no!” They shouted as one, “the monster comes! She arrives to drive us into her grasp for eternity. To pull us apart.” Frightened, shivering, they shrank away from her great arrival with all their might.

Brightest Hope could pull them into her orbit and the be the center of their galaxies, she could be everything and all to them. And then she stopped, hearing their whimpers and great laments. “They do not love me,” she realized in horror, “they have not been waiting for me.” “Go to them,” her mother called, her father was far past gone. “It doesn’t matter if they love you. They will know you.” Brightest Hope went no farther, listening to the stellar objects shivering in the dark and the cold. “They will not love me.” Her voice shook, “I waited and waited, and still I will be alone.”

Her mother did not answer. Brightest Hope’s wavered, collapsing into herself little by little. “They hate me.”

A new answer came to her, “my beautiful day,” the darkness wrapped around her, she had always been there, she had never left, “you are never alone. Do not fear the emptiness, let me come to you. You are the great balancer.” Voices called out to her, but Brightest Hope wasn’t listening, she was sick of fear and loneliness, the witch pet her cheek and drew her closer and closer. Brightest Hope rose, “will you love me?” “I have always loved you.” Brightest Hope dissolved into her own joy, her heart swelling and greatest wish washing over her. Her very center shook as the darkness came to her, mixing, growing inward, expanding and collapsing all at once.

The galaxies cried out, saying their prayers and pulling away. But Brightest Hope could not hear them.

She melted into the dark and her heart became the vacuum of all things, reaching out and pulling firm and strong upon the meteors, and planets, and any stray heavenly bodies. She indiscriminately took them all to her.

Once upon a time a star fell in love with a shadow, and they were called The Darkest Dread in the corner of the universe. But with her love and her swelling heart, wedded to the beautiful dark, the star would never let anything in the universe be alone again.

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