(click individual photos above for captions)
“It’s a shooting star,” the five-year-old said proudly, pointing to the sketch in her mother’s hand. Her eyes widened just a tinge, her burning secret now released into the world. “But,” she added in a lower voice, almost apologetically, “it’s broken.”
In the billions of years I spent as droplets of rock and dust drifting about the galaxy, I’ve never felt so seen. And I imagine I was easier to spot in those days, before this journey; I still owned a lower body then. It vaporized a few moments ago, somewhere to the left of Mars.
The child’s right, of course. I am broken. Seconds from now, I’ll smash into this planet’s surface with fury unrivaled by most of my celestial cousins. Whatever’s left of my shell will remain here, on this strange world, until the sun retires and Andromeda has her revenge, and our realities are torn together.
But you know something? I’ve never been more alive.
When I ripped through the atmosphere, I heard wishes targeting me from below, in every direction. I realized, all at once, what it must mean to live out your entire existence on a single planet, but be visited on a random evening by what looks like a Herald of God. And when my time inside this form dissolves completely and I move on, they’ll honor me. Their history will record my name.
Final moment or not, how many creatures in this universe can make an entrance so beautiful?
I am broken, sweet girl. But do not pity me—this is the moment I’ve waited for.
And I’m grateful.
This story was based on a drawing of a “broken” shooting star by artist Marigold Thibeault, age five.
Thanks to Jim Tran, who confirmed for me that “billions of years” was an acceptable age for most stellar materials.
Want to see everything I’ve created in the same place? Because you can do that!