There are an infinite number of suns in the expanding universe. Old suns, monstrous and crimson; and even older ones, dimming slowly into blackness. Stable yellow suns and suns still buried in the birthing grounds of nebulae. Suns that were and are and are yet to become, and around some fraction of the infinite suns are worlds. Every world that has a sun has a finite number of sunsets. 

There are an infinite number of sunsets in the expanding universe. This is only one of them, and it is ending. It is an empty sunset, in an empty desert filled with wind-carved mesas and furled scrollwork arches that nobody but I will ever see. It is a place of beauty and desolation, and the sun is a disappearing fraction on the horizon, and I am still alone here. 

The ship’s lights are off; there is no light at all except for the reflection of the sunset on the arch above me, and it is fading quickly. I find myself staring out into the darkness, counting the stars as they become visible through the thin atmosphere, marking off the places I have been and charting the distance to the ones yet to come. 

It is a beautiful world, this one. Beautiful and wild and impossible to comprehend. It is a world like she is, but she is not here, even though I wait until the very last reflections of the sunset have gone before I turn around and retrace my steps through the millennia of dust.

There is another world to see, yet. Another planet around this yellow star on the verge of self-destruction, before I close the coffin lid over my face and die for another light-decade. There is another world, another sunset, another chance to find her. It gives me hope, at least.

She said she would come back at sunset. She never said which one.

Image prompt from M.J. Bush via 500px: “Portal” by Brad Goldpaint


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