There is no fixed point in the universe. That’s what she used to say to me, with that half smile, lips together, eyes dancing, back in those early days when I fell for her. You’re the fixed point is what I’d told her and that’s what had started it. Later she’d told me that it had felt too soon to hear something like that but I still remember catching, just momentarily, the startled look of delight that surfaced on her face as I’d said it. As quickly as she’d revealed herself it was hidden away again and she settled her features back into that half smile. We were walking home from a bar and though the lights of the city dimmed the canopy of stars above us she picked out one, pointing up at it and grabbing my shoulder so that I looked. That’s Polaris she told me. Teased me that it was sometimes known as the guiding star and that perhaps that was what I was looking for. Did you know that it’s brighter now than when mankind first looked on it ? She didn’t tell me this, I looked it up later. She had been teasing but she was right; I was looking for a guiding star and though I never told her I saw some equivalence in the steady brightening of that distant celestial body and our relationship as it blossomed between us. We came back to it, as our little lover’s in joke, again and again. It’s not fixed she would insist. It might as well be I tried to reason with her, all of the other stars in the Northern sky appear to rotate around it. We can take our position in space relative to that point. She used to laugh and assert that everything was inexorably expanding out from the moment things began, that everything was getting further away from everything else. More distant. Nothing was fixed. I would pretend to be sad and playfully detach from her, taking literally her inference that all things pull apart until she’d give in, wrap her arms back around me and whisper that changes in the universe were happening so slowly that we’d never even notice it. The universe won’t pull us apart I would whisper back.
I remember this each year, particularly as the season turns to Autumn. The sun always hangs lower in the sky and it more directly catches my attention. I find myself staring at it, the most prominent star that we can see, marking out our days in constant motion.
There is no fixed point in the universe. Not anymore.
This is the third story in my series of 42 shorts that I’m writing to raise money and awareness for Mind, the mental health charity. Please share if you liked it. If you’re interested in donating to a great cause then please visit my fundraising page: https://www.justgiving.com/42shorts/