Illustration: photo of brain coral digitally manipulated to resemble abstract heart (or face or angelfish) of stars swimming in space


Every light is late, they say. Burning stars send sparks from eons away. Dreamy eyes twinkle along to them. Was that what we were? Was there a time that had belonged to us? Or was it a spark from a distant future?

Like genes – infinite stories for such finite lives. We – fragile carriers, unable to embody them all. Possibility lies at the end of our selves, in the hope in the things that outlive us. Perhaps those breakaways come with potential energy to blaze beyond our asymptotes. Perhaps, if only in another body along this lineage, we will be limitless.

Beauty can drive you crazy sometimes. It can hurt. Just look at birth. Or the way light comes to us by a burning sun. And it will implode one day too. But does it matter if it once burnt? Burn, we did. Vibrantly, stupendously, briefly. Everything is brief eventually.

In the arrogance of that brevity everyone imagines a spark of consciousness will leap free from the fire, and that they will catch it. Does it cross the computer’s mind too to leap into humanness? Into making sense? If you never try, you will never know. But if it is not possible, it becomes torturous. As we were.

How tempting the lust to be the actor and not the one acted upon. Could we catch the escape velocity to stop orbiting this same inscribed space? To finally be able to answer the question of what we are? But imagine if one day the earth learned to spin away from it all. What would become of us?

And in all of it, we always get to choose, they insist. For what else do we have but choice? Yes, even if you could not control the hands that moulded you, the kind of love that shaped the love you had to give, the gravity that impressed upon every molecule constituting you, they say you get to choose. Didn’t you? Didn’t I?

Humanity does not have a stellar record with choice. Don’t just think of wars and famines. Look at us. Oh well, even our madnesses expire. And what remains after the star dies and its light leaves home? You may say darkness but does one really know? It is from a time now too long ago.

Ebele Mogo explores interiority through her creative writing. Most recently she has been published in Jalada Africa, Kikwetu Journal & Cypress press. Her short stories also made it to the final shortlist for the Saraba Manuscript Prize (2016), as well as the Toyin Falola Prize (2020). She is on Twitter as @ebyral.

Illustration by C.B. Auder.

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