Thursday, June 28, 2012

In a Blink

The noise inside the bar was unbearable and Carl needed a break. So he stepped outside to the patio to get resituated. The pressure was getting to him and he thought he might crack if he were forced to hear another story about how the President was an idiot or how the nail salon did a great job, but were too slow.

Carl looked up at the night sky and tried to make out the few twinkling stars that weren’t blighted out by the over powerful Chicago street lamps and light pollution.  He sighed as he considered how unlucky he was when it came to wishing on stars, or rather, the lack of stars.  It was always the same thing, scanning the heavens, searching for that first star to sing that familiar rhyme to. Finally, Carl could make out a clear twinkling above the perma-dusk the street lights created.

“Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight. I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight”, said Carl.

He closed his eyes and wished. It was the same wish, varied a little bit as he got older, but always the same. He wished for a loving wife, a happy home and to be successful. So far, that wish hadn’t come completely true. Only certain parts seemed to come true and not always at the same time. Carl opened his eyes and found his wishing star again.

He usually added a little caveat to his wish, asking that he achieve these wishes without anyone else suffering. He didn’t want his wish to turn into a Twilight Zone, Genie’s curse, Monkey’s Paw type wish and by his wish being granted, others would befall some terrible fate. Like those people that would wish for power and wealth only to wake up as Hitler in 1940. Carl didn’t want that. He really just wanted help in making his wishes come true.

Carl wasn’t a fool and knew his wishes just wouldn’t materialize out of the haze. He understood that starlight, while powerful stuff, was not actually capable of making his dreams come true. He still liked to dream though and maybe, way down inside in the inner child in his heart, thought that the universe would somehow take pity on him and grant his wish. Even though that was completely irrational.

Carl thought about the universe and how quixotic and mysterious it was. He remembered some quantum physicist he once heard had said the universe was only 20 billion years away from ceasing to exist. The end would happen so fast we wouldn’t even be aware of it. It would happen faster than you could blink. A great nothingness would swallow the entire universe and all matter would be re-adjusted into a new form, something completely different from this world and what we’re made of.

Carl looked back up at the night sky and wondered how many times the universe had ceased to be, re-started and then ceased to be again; all leading up to the moment that he could stand on the sidewalk and make wishes on the very fabric of universal history. Carl felt very small. He took a long sip from his beer and rejoined the conversations swirling around him outside the bar. 

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