by Chris R. Morgan
NOTE: The following is an interpretive (rough) transcript of two unique pulse frequencies, discovered by privately funded Swiss astrophysicists, said to have emanated from deep space, possibly even the farthest extreme of the universe itself. That the visual and verbal approximations are largely speculative, that they are as yet unsanctioned by official channels, and that the discovery itself was only happened upon by way of a costly and wholly preventable fuck-up, which will be addressed with the appropriate private sector-level penalties, does not necessarily render trivial the wonder and gravity of its implications. I guess you’d have to have been there.
Beige orb: Hey.
Grey orb: Oh dear. Oh goodness.
Beige orb: Watch where you’re going.
Grey orb: Oh my, I’m so sorry.
Beige orb: No, no. Forgive me. I wasn’t paying attention.
Grey orb: No, no. Neither was I. I was completely in my own world. Did I hurt you?
Beige orb: No, not at all. Nothing hurts. Nothing ever hurts.
Grey orb: Oh?
Beige orb: Have you not noticed? I’m so embarrassed. Is it just me? It is just me.
Grey orb: No, I have.
Beige orb: Oh, thank goodness. I was worried I was the only one.
Grey orb: Everything has that Downy softness feel.
Beige orb: It kind of envelops you.
Grey orb: And sometimes it suffocates you.
Beige orb: Right?
Grey orb: Like, sometimes it feels like too much. Like, what did I do to deserve this? And what do I do now that I have it.
Beige orb: Sometimes I stay in one place for what feels like … I don’t know, actually.
Grey orb: I know just what you mean.
Beige orb: Like I could just sink deeper and deeper into place. This blackness just comes over like an ooze.
Grey orb: Like syrup, kind of.
Beige orb: Yeah, kind of. But then, out of nowhere, I’m jolted back out of it. Throttling though this, I don’t know, plain? Going through all these colors and vibrations. But on this kind of narrow pathway, where I’m bouncing off each side of it.
Grey orb: Like a bowling lane with the kiddie rails up?
Beige orb: Exactly! Were you just doing that?
Grey orb: That’s all it seems I’ve been doing.
Beige orb: Have you been here long?
Grey orb: I … I …
Beige orb: No, no. Stupid question. Of course you don’t know. There’s no time to count here it seems.
Grey orb: Yeah.
Beige orb: Just stillness one moment, then propulsion the next. Stasis and energy. Whenever, wherever, however. Sorry, I’m being unhelpful.
Grey orb: No, you’re not …
Beige orb: Just venting.
Grey orb: It’s okay.
Beige orb: It’s not like you do this on your own. But it’s something you’re endlessly getting used to. It asserts itself this … whatever it is … force? You have no sense as to what it does or what you do to help it. Maybe you just … please it somehow. But it doesn’t feel pleasing to me. It simply is. And I have no sense of was or whereto or really is at times. Things are there and then they aren’t.
Grey orb: Stasis and energy.
Beige orb: Color and colorless. In perpetuity. But of course I’ll forget that I’m perpetual, because I’ll soon be shot off into another vector to serve another outward impulse and crash into something else like a rolling cosmic log that I am and do this all over again. But … this is the first time I’ve had any real sense of it. Of perpetuity, of any proportion whatever. If I have emitted this much energy on my own I do not recall it. Why are you here?
Grey orb: For the same reason you are, I suspect.
Beige orb: If you say so.
Grey orb: Should I leave? I would, but I don’t know if I can.
Beige orb: No, of course not. I am terrible.
Grey orb: You are not terrible. You don’t know what you are.
Beige orb: I’m afraid that’s true.
Grey orb: I don’t know what I am.
Beige orb: How to frame it, though. I can’t think of any way. Weightlessness?
Grey orb: Formlessness.
Beige orb: Personlessness.
Grey orb: Purposelessness.
Beige orb: Friendlessness.
Grey orb: This is probably going to seem odd.
Beige orb: There’s a high bar for that now, but you can try me.
Grey orb: But have we met before?
Beige orb: I … what?
Grey orb: It’s not something I can quite explain anymore than anything else can be at present, I admit that. But there’s a sense of familiarity here.
Beige orb: Like repetition? Like we’re cycling back?
Grey orb: Like memory. Like a past occurrence entirely unique to itself.
Beige orb: I guess it would be hard to miss amidst all this. But still, I can’t remember. And the very notion of before is entirely foreign at this point. If I ever understood it, let alone existed in it, I would have to relearn it. (pause) I am insulting you. I’m sorry.
Grey orb: Hardly. For all I know I could be wrong. It could just as easily be something I just kind of picked up en route, some far off refuse from an unknown place, untethered, free floating in the firmament, looking to retether to the nearest possible object regardless of compatibility. And that object, for better or worse, was me, and in so doing that refuse became … I don’t know … corrupted? Or rearranged? And it was emitted back out as something almost entirely new. Perhaps it was not from my experience, but from my longing.
Beige orb: Longing?
Grey orb: Yes, and here, too, I could be wrong; in fact I hope I am, but wrong or right I don’t care. I take back what I said earlier. Maybe I can leave this space, but maybe I just don’t want to.
Beige orb: You have more strength than I.
Grey orb: Do I though? Have I not been relating almost completely to your experience? Have I not, as you, been feeling the push and pull of this stratosphere? Being propelled to one extreme then being foisted through into another? It may well be that this has not been my first collision, but that those collisions were not particularly fruitful, were not keeping me still; or, rather, not giving me much reason to make myself still. There is much here that just stares you back blankly. Few have even complained that I was even there. I ran into you unthinkingly, yes, but you were maybe the first to have even acknowledged that something had, in fact, run into you.
Beige orb: And you were the first to beg for pardon.
Grey orb: What I’m getting at though is that maybe there is more to our situation than we assumed. More and less. More disorder and so less obligation to bend to its whim. (pause) I’m saying I want to be here.
Beige orb: That’s what I thought.
Grey org: But if you don’t agree …
Beige orb: No, not at all. I mean, I do … agree. I feel less directionless than I have in, I assume, ever. But at the same time, I can’t help feeling that I am still compelled to be here. I feel still, but that stillness, pleasant as it is, seems every bit the placeholder that anything else here can be at a given time.
Grey orb: I feel this feeling as well.
Beige orb: And how do you deal with it?
Grey orb: I accept it. And more than that I take responsibility for it. There could be any number of ends I could be serving right now. If this meeting is serving such an end I have less of an urge to find out then, I assume, I ever have in the past. I am serving my ends, which, if you’ll pardon the frankness, is being in your company.
Beige orb: No need for a pardon.
Grey orb: We are simpatico?
Beige orb: I think so, but I cannot pinpoint it as finitely as you have. On the one hand I feel inadequate in comparison to you, on the other hand my telling you so doesn’t make me uneasy or ashamed. Even if I do not remember you, if you are carrying some false impulse, I still wish that I could and you weren’t. But that doesn’t really matter, because we are here, serving our mutual end.
Grey orb: We are giving care.
Beige orb: I feel like I’m doing nothing at all.
Grey orb: Care sometimes feels like that. I would say it often feels like that. But because care is so much linked with effort, if not outright labor, much of it gets swept aside into kindness.
Beige orb: Kindness is below caring?
Grey orb: It is a variant of caring, understated but actually quite vital. Understated perhaps because it is the most instinctive. Vital because it is the least performative. Even, perhaps especially, in a void it is a wonder and a joy to find something to care about or someone to care for.
Beige orb: Should it be so strong? Is it, or will it become, love?
Grey orb: Love appears only where there is need of it, such as when there is a society it must glue together, or a barbarism from which that society must be shielded. Ours is a loveless place.
Beige orb: But not a careless place?
Grey orb: There are very few places completely without care. It is impossible, unthinkable. It is without mechanical function; no one condition brings it out. It is there for our ready deployment because it has always been there. Even when we are discerning in giving it out, we give it to our fullest when we do, and in such cases it is felt more. Love is a narrowing kind of thing. It is an efficiency guru cutting needless surplus at every corner until the bare essentials are entirely dependent on one another. This is not out of desire, of course. If love is spread across too far an expanse it dissolves and becomes useless. Love retracts while care expands.
Care is versatile. Even when it is focused it can come in many forms. Care is asking for pardon when you obstruct someone’s path. Care is also gratitude for bringing even brief sound into a timeless silence. Care is contingent, though it is not utilitarian. You and I may not be in the same place for very long, but we may hold enough memory from this that we may find each other again, even if no particular prerequisite can be gleaned, even if the ends come into conflict with others. No need or obligation or interest, in that moment, will be of greater importance.
Beige orb: But it’s more than gestures, right? Having someone with a frame of reference very close to your own is quite comforting. It’s not quite everything, but it brings me more than I thought possible.
Grey orb: Exactly. You are my friend. And if the whims of a compulsive, preoccupied universe are too much work, what better way to resist?
Beige orb: I shall see you again.
Grey orb: I count on it.
Beige orb: We may tear the very fabric of the universe to shreds.
Grey orb: What kindness is greater than that?