The universe didn’t care. It went on moving at fantastic speeds. Gravity kept pulling at it, or not. Comets shot through it, or not. Stars burned, planets spun, atoms burst, or not. It didn’t care. Matter changed forms. Things were created, then destroyed. Deep blackness was perforated with specks of something, bits of carbon and hydrogen and light. The universe went on.
One tiny corner of a tiny galaxy of the enormous universe was this planet, mainly blue, mostly rock, but full of life.
This life took different forms. One form of life was called human. They were large and strong, but not the largest nor the strongest. They were rather bright, when they tried to be. Their manner is hard to describe. Sophisticated. Destructive. Intelligent. Short sighted. Violent. Loving. Enduring. Yes, that is perhaps the best word. Enduring.
The humans, today, live in a strange time. They were killing their planet, and they knew it but weren’t stopping it. They were trying to spread love and hope through bullets and exclusion. They spent hours upon days upon weeks discussing the shades of brown they came in and which god, if any, was real.
However, they endured.
They found ways to live without a limb, without a heart. They found ways to capture live images to remember later. They found ways to capture live animals, wild and sharp-toothed, and make them their friends. They found ways to survive hunger, they found ways to survive war, they found ways to help each other, and themselves.
They never stopped trying, not even when it seemed hopeless. Not even when it was hopeless. They were an incredible force of nature.
The universe didn’t care. It never does. It let itself be pulled by gravity. It let things be created, then destroyed. It let the busy, loud, violent, loving, enduring, breathing, fighting humans live on Earth and do as they pleased with it. It didn’t care.
Every human, at some point in their short lives, realizes this. They may be driving their giant machines, or lying in their beds, or playing with their children, or sitting in the rain. They realize in this moment that nothing matters, that the universe doesn’t care about them. Most of them wake up the next morning and are okay with that fact. Some don’t.
Michelle had this thought after the worst few months of her life, after a crying, hissing human ripped its way out of her body and tormented her endlessly. After its birth shortly came its death–they called it “Sudden Infant Death,” they said it had no cause. After its death her husband came home and hugged her stiffly. She didn’t know how to react. He had barely met their son. Three out of the four weeks it was breathing he was gone.
Michelle was driving away from her husband when she realized the universe didn’t care about her. Part of her argued that it did, but she knew it wasn’t true. She was a meaningless speck, with a streak of bad luck, that the universe didn’t care about.
That settled things, for Michelle.
She drove until she could make herself cry. She didn’t want to die with dry eyes. It only took a moment, then she pressed the pedal to the floor of the car like they do in the movies. 40, 50, 60, 70, 80 miles per hour.
Her life flashed by in a series of hims. She only recognized them by number, until Craig, and then Riley. Riley….
The universe went on moving. Gravity kept pulling at it, or not. Comets shot through it, or not. Stars burned, planets spun, atoms burst, or not. It didn’t care.
In a small corner of the universe, on a small road on a small planet, Michelle Wu’s car collided with the forest. The steering wheel hit her, and she made some gasping noise. A disappointing last word, she thought, and then she was gone. And the universe went on.