Short Stories

The Absence of Stars

A trillion and one years after the big bang, a son and his father were sitting in front of a small grave. It was night, and the only light that fell upon them was from the single low light lantern they carried with them.

“Why did my mother have to die?” the boy asked his father, staring up at the blackness of the sky.

The father paused for a moment as he mimicked his son’s gaze, then cleared his throat to speak as he snuffed out the light. “Son, do you know why the night never changes?”

The young son, bewildered by his father’s reply, admitted; “No.”

“So much time has passed since the big bang that all the stars you might’ve been able to see at night, all the ones brighter than our own red dwarf, are dead. It wasn’t that they weren’t good stars, as many of them went on to seed the universe with the elements we need to survive; it’s just that being so bright meant that they wouldn’t be able live as long. The price they paid for being so exceptional is that they had to leave first, and now all we see at night is their absence.”

The son turned to his father and shook his head, tears running down his face. “I don’t get it, what does that have to do with my mother? Why did my mother have to die? Why did she leave me here?” he managed through sobs.

Quietly, through tears of his own, the father whispered his reply; “Because she too burned brightly.”