At first, there were the stars. And then, there were only the stars. Well, the stars and Bill Murray. Actually, it wasn’t really Bill Murray, more like a rock that kinda looked like Bill Murray. Anyway, I was alone. The rock never talked back, even on days where I swore I could see him smile.
There was another rock, I like to call Whitney, because although it doesn’t look like Mrs. Houston, it does look like someone with their mouth open, belting out the most intense ballad this side of the Mississippi. If only the Mississippi were still here.
Anyway, my name is Frank and I’m what’s left. I remember things. Things about the time before this one. Things about how the world worked, and that there was a world, but I don’t remember much about who I used to be. I turned into that thing after you stop being real, but for the life of me, I can’t remember what it’s called. For the longest time, I couldn’t remember what I was called. That sucked.
I’m not sure how this became to be, and why I’m the only one of me there is. I do remember things, though, and I do have to say, this is better than that time I was married to Darlene, but not much better. At least she vacuumed once in awhile, Bill and Whitney just float around, and sometimes float away when they’re angry. I try not to yell at them when they do that. It’s nurture, you know. Push the thing away and it’ll run as far as it can.
Recently, it came to my attention that I was lonely. My dazzling personality shone through the galactic expanse earth used to vacate, but the spaces among these rocks I now called home echoed more than I’d like them to when I told one of my jokes.
So I decided to roam.
There wasn’t much to see, but with Bill under one arm, and Whit under the other, I set off on a weird sorta road trip.
Space was nice. Kinda cold and massive in size and meaning, but incredibly beautiful. It was almost prettier than J-Lo. Almost. I had no idea where I was going, but I somehow managed to get past the other planets. They looked like giant marbles in the sky, but nothing like I remembered earth to be.
Near Pluto I found a big ball of ice, but it was pee colored, which made me wonder who the heck stopped for a whiz break here, and why they didn’t come say hi. Rude. Anyway, Whit started getting pretty heavy as we passed through a nebula. That nebula was pretty cool, with orange swirls of gas I didn’t know the name of. It’s weird, what I remember and what I don’t. I remember Mrs. Greggor, my eighth-grade science teacher and how she only ever ate carrots and peanut butter. Yes, together and apart. I also remember flowers, which I miss more than anything. I especially miss hydrangeas. They made my allergies unbearable but they smelled like Anna, my darling love of the mid-seventies. We had a hell of a time, although I don’t remember much of it, but in regards to this I actually know why.
Time was weird for me. Always has been, even when I was alive. It just changed things somehow. I can’t explain it. That seems to be a common theme nowadays.
So cruising through space with two bulbous rocks with a hope of finding life—in any form because at this point I could give a rats ass if it was bacteria or a six-nippled dragon named Kenny—took less time than I had anticipated. I made it out of the Milky Way with ease, wondering which galaxy reflected my vibes, even though I didn’t really know what kind of vibes I gave off because there wasn’t ever anyone to tell me how I was. Self perception is always false, you know.
There was one that had a lot of purple in it and I really like purple. Hydrangeas are purple, or at least the ones I planted at my mother’s one year for Mother’s Day were. It’s a soothing color, but is daring when it wants to be. Like me. Or so I hope.
I decided to call this galaxy Lil’ Yuca for no reason really, it just popped into my head. Must have been one of those soundcloud rappers my son used to listen to. Dang, I forgot how much I miss him. He hasn’t crossed my mind in a while. I wonder where he is now.
The star systems that made up this massive spiral were different from the ones at home and I passed a lot of binary systems. Where there were not twin stars, there were pulsars that made me feel uneasy. Bill was starting to get heavy now, too.
Towards the center of Lil’ Yuca, amid the dust I sometimes thought of as the fog of the universe (it sounds mystically intellectual, I think), I came upon a solar system that looked very similar to the one at home. It had about six planets that orbited a red giant, and one planet in particular had four moons, all evenly placed along the same lopsided horizontal orbit. I liked the red one because it had swirls of cherry juice that mixed well with this looping pearl color which created a blushing, milky pink where they touched. It reminded me of what eating a strawberry felt like.
“Mmm, Strawberry cheesecake sounds good right about now,” I said to Bill as I let go of him and of Whitney. I liked it here, so I decided to take a break. But, as I nestled myself into the ten feet of empty space I usually limited myself and my belongings to, I heard a jingle. It didn’t sound quite like a bell, more like the slapping of battered keys together. It sounded like elementary school, when the janitor would open up a closet after Doug, or Monica, but it was usually Doug, would throw up whatever once wriggling thing Stevie Barrons had made them swallow at recess. With tired limbs, I nestled Bill into my left armpit and Whitney into the right and headed in the direction of that weird sound, which sounded like it came from near the second planet where a thin asteroid belt separated it from the first planet.
Before I could get close enough to where I had planned on stopping (you get good at mapping out empty space after a while of existing in it) I was hit by something that felt bigger than I imagined it to be. No matter its size, I went spinning towards the asteroid belt, holding onto my rocks for their dear lives, because I was dead—I WAS DEAD. That’s what it’s called. Okay, so I’m a ghost. I knew it, I knew the word would come to me. It does, even if it takes a while.
Anyway, so I was spiraling towards a bunch of tiny rocks, and of course it wouldn’t hurt, but I hate disturbing things that aren’t mine so I tried fighting my motion, which is hard when you have nothing to grab onto. As I was sure I was about to totally mess up the beautiful rocky ring the universe had so nicely made I hit something solid, but not hard. The jingle sounded right next to my ear and was the loudest thing I had heard since being dead. I opened my eyes as wide as could be but hesitated turning around. Boy, am I glad now that I did.
Behind me, breathing heavily was a giant dog with hair for days. He wagged his tail, waiting to be greeted and with an eager hand I patted his fluffy head and he looked up, his tag jingling with every sweep of his tail.
“Hi pup, I’m Frank,” I said, reaching down to look at what the tag said.
“Well hiya Frank, I’m Bill. Bill M.”
I stopped dead in my tracks. Did dogs talk when I was alive? I couldn’t really remember all that well. We had dogs, but did they talk like humans? That would be weird right? Goddamn memory loss really sucks, you know.
“It’s been real lonely out here. Hey, I was wondering, could I tag along with you? I like your rocks. They are some nice rocks good for throwing I’ll bet. Could we maybe visit a place with a wormhole, I’ve never been inside one, and they seem pretty cool. What do ya think Frank? Can I come? I’d love to come. Can I? Oh please, oh please, oh-”
“Yeah, yeah, you can come Bill. I’ve been pretty lonely too. But just one thing. You gotta stop talking so much at once or else you’ll run out of things to say later.”
“What is later?”
I opened my mouth to answer but realized there was nothing to say. What was “later” when time is life and visa vera, neither one ending because they were once enemies that joined forces to create something new—something Bill and I were experiencing together.
“You know Bill, I’m not totally sure. But you still can’t talk so much at once, how am I supposed to respond to it all?”
“Okay Frank, good point. Hey, could I ask ya for a favor though? It’s just a little one. Could you throw those rocks? I’ll go get ‘em, I swear it. I’ll get ‘em and bring ‘em right back. It’ll be so much fun, and I’ll try not to slobber on them. I’m a good boy, honest.”
I chuckled and grabbed Whitney first.
“I know you’re a good boy Bill, I can tell,” I said as I pulled my arm back and launched the queen of ballads into uncharted empty space where resided the dust of things that once were and may someday be again.