Perseus collides into Canis Major as Gouda and I stride in our account of this star-ridden sea.
“Gouda, that’s a hero, and I believe, with no certainty, that from where we are, it’s crashing into the big dog!” Waiting for Gouda to pivot in the direction of my gaze, I cannot help but let out a chuckle myself.
Around me breathes a vacancy in the shape of something. My wish is to draw you something smooth and of yourself, like a pencil artist from some prestigious time for their reputation. You are first the shape of the thing that is all this. I am ashamed of my eyes, which borrow your elements, because they cannot even determine you as a home. They can only believe without witness, that you have bleed outward and everywhere, and that you are held intact by stars beyond immediate reach. ‘How’ is a constant, and I find myself quite brave to still self-loathingly ask it. Still, I will take care of your confession. Your biology deceives you much like mine. To you, Gouda and I are like subordinate foreign bodies lodged inside your empty cosmic ribcage, which is itself bound and tethered by an intangible blackened skin.
Do you have a single care along with any of your trillions of scattered stars? Surely, you cannot count! Many times I have sworn on the life of my dear friend for you to reveal one of them, as they naturally are, to me. If one would appear now, I would reach it with a mother-like affinity.
I am pulled by a soft and rapid beat below my waist, and am relieved to feel Gouda still breathing naturally as he does. Sometimes I think they were all sewn as one, and too within our reach to even see. Then, the conscious sprout of a distinct spot ripped apart the seams that held them all so close, drifting each end of the blanket further from the other, and even further away from us.
“All so we can pause at their entirety and think quietly or aloud to a lover, that a star is something quite whole!”
Gouda has found serene refuge from my meditation in my left pant pocket. Might he be thinking of anything for me today? He may not have a single thing to add, but he continues to haul himself around my sphere of thought. I must admit that he remains a central part of it. Though, he doesn’t behave as if he knows this. He must believe I come to his life when I am in dire delusion about mine. I must seem to be traversing. He is in and I am out.
“Gouda, you are a wonderful companion to me, but I fear you do not understand me the way I do you.”
See, as you persistently sniff for sustenance, you do not tell me what motivation you have to behave as a mouse even in this outer space, where you have no need to be the way you always are. Even as you rummage inside a criminal’s left pant pocket and believe yourself to be far from harm.
Nothing moves my squinting eyes, but with some facial muscular stamina I can induce effort to sway them onto an object myself. Could the orbit of any identifiable body be far too minuscule for my sound reasoning to capture as significant? Today, Gouda and I are on the problem of motion because nothing seems to be moving, and that is a problem for me. And another thought: if it were not for the trillions of stars that existed as their own whole, my exile would be spent in a pitch black plane. Would that have been more fitting for my crime? No, I think it would be like I never left home. Though, I believe that would be a bigger torment.
I take another peek at Gouda, this time as if to confirm something. I’ve told him that home is where every blink ends with a rupture to reveal nothing. It’s quite violent. I feared he would ask me for a living elaboration. I have tried on numerous occasions to explain our way of being, but he does not, or will not, settle it into his own comprehension. I think it is something with the vastness of his metabolic capacity to rummage about.
“And what is your never-dying desire to rummage really all about?”
Nonetheless, Gouda is a great companion to me. Although I cannot always decipher why he is the way he is, I can quickly conjure real words to define his rodent objectiveness, and I find great trust in him because of this. I look at him now, trying to escape the captive hug of my entire hand, and cheer in great excitement for him.
“Gouda, you really are a being of your own!”
In an ambient hurry, I feel the desire to offer him a sincere smile, and then I do just that.
“I have yet to determine your capacity for memory, but I always hope that your inherent nature forbids the erosion of certain things you might grow of.”
Still smiling, though now in a freakish awe, I notice Gouda not alone, but against the home of every original predecessor. “Gouda, you’ve never looked so small in your baby grey coat, and against all of this! Can you even know what’s behind you? You must feel rather small.”
I feel now is the time to begin again as, in continuation of my earlier thought on orbiting bodies, I have acquired another. Motion that is perpetual loops into its own self, over and over again, until the subject of that over and over again, (I have decided to include in my meditation that the subjects are Gouda and I), can no longer feel the presence of anything new. That is itself a new thing which is brought about in space. Nothing from something, I think. Although, now I have confused myself a little, and perhaps Gouda will be confused as well, because the thing which perpetual motion has brought about is its anti-self; non-motion.
“Gouda, I have deduced that nothing around us will ever escape, but I just don’t think that can really be, you know. Doesn’t anything here have some kind of desire to become a moving body?” I am exhausted at my conclusion, like I’ve trekked the entirety of this seemingly barren landscape to reach it. If I could sink into something below me, I would. “You and I must remain unbound by such an uninspiring truth. I know it may seem bleak now, but let’s just keep going.”
Gouda manages to break free from my grasp again as I sigh and lose a bit of my hold. His scurried run up my sleeve feels like a soft gust of warm air, and I think of him as something quite great. “Even if you wanted to run away from me you couldn’t go too far! We’re already as far away as far away can get, Gouda!”
He pauses, then scurries back down my arm and onto the tip of my finger, nearly slipping off completely. Quickly, and with the mother-like affinity I know I can reveal to a star, I catch him with my other free hand, hoping he feels safety will always appear for him. “I got you, Gouda!” I feel his relief.
“I’ve defined you already, but you’re also like the little one I left behind. I mentioned her when I read to you my mediation on being something. You have a look I do not wish to see! Well, I forgive you. My meditation only refers to the idea of little ones, but I was writing from what I knew about her as she was to me. Though it’s true that all we see in exile are stars and nothing, the mere existence of those two things on the same plane would send her child wonder into a frenzy.” I begin to search the scene, as if for something hiding. “Secretly, I believe she is here, Gouda,” I say as he uses dull bites to nibble on my wrist. “She is either nothing or she is a star, but I believe she is here.” There is a concentrated silence between Gouda and I now. “See, you look at me as if I have silly premonitions, but I already know this. Privately judge me the way you are doing now, but I will still not turn a blind eye to you. You are too good of a companion to me! Even if it is true that you judge me.”
The silence, almost a quantifiable spectacle itself, becomes too rigid for me as the weight of some heated flush takes over my head. I wait for the flush to subside, but now it is all that can be grasped.
I check Gouda’s vitals with a distracted wonder, and confirm with the most certainty that my experience is not some cosmic signal for death, though I have yet to speak of single meditation on death. Really though, there cannot be any uncertainty pertaining to it. “We are not dying Gouda, do not worry!”
A hurried blow rushes from below me and I succumb to what feels like an obligatory freeze of every muscle below my neck. Something grand is moving! Something grand is moving with its entire force! Then began magnificent tons of visceral thunder. Rising before us is an untempered gust of the largest imaginable air, but it isn’t hot. There is really no quality to its temperature or its describable look. How then can I be sure that it’s here, moving, and with every desire to do so? I just am!
Amidst this too, I still feel Gouda’s whole body tucked into my left pant pocket. “Gouda! Gouda, you have got to come out and share this excitement with me! Something grand that is grand because it isn’t you or I! I really wouldn’t want you to miss this, Gouda.”
The neutral air begins to rot. I feel a crumbling wind fiercely dissipating into me.
He will come out to aimlessly peer as he does, but I cry out loud something old now. “Gouda, again you sink into yourself. Even in this magnificence or monstrosity, you are something and you are stubbornly that one thing. Do you even have a care of your own?”
An abysmal whirring enters both my tired ears to weaken my eyes, and shakes my view of the distant stars.
“One that exists outside of your way of being?”
Before me now, as I stay still, a celestial decoration rises! “Can you grasp the entirety of this moment, and I mean everything about it, Gouda?” I tether lightly, as a minute shadowy figure, and as I speak quiet murmurs against its grandiose composition. “What do you make of the people you grow fond of, or of the ones who have grown so fond of you?” I feel his tense curl, like he hears me anyway. “They tore you from your home and they said ‘This mouse is as criminally inclined and thoughtfully demented as you’, but you are nothing like me, Gouda! You just are and I am still yet to be unravelled from my core. All that can become of any moment is what I can tell you of it. This is what makes us great companions and this is what also aches me. I am very complicated Gouda, and you may see me as misguided, but I am afraid that is not what I want in the end. Were it not for this force that keeps me still, I would reach into my pocket and bring you out myself. I would show you the planet that rises before me!”
Beyond my attention, a living waterfall brews by a single coil of cloud. It washes the magnificence or monstrosity away, and my sole companion slips from me to escape with it.
Why I wrote this piece
This story follows the final day of a friendship between a criminal and his mouse as they are exiles in space. It is about the turbulent journey of feeling understood by another, as you try to build and affirm your own understanding of the world. The criminal protagonist, who is distracted by their own goals, is as flawed of a friend as I have found myself to be at times. As the protagonist delves deeper into their mediation, trying to uncover truths about the physical world, they secretly yearn for a companion who seeks to affirm them in the same way. With this story, I wanted to explore the idea that truths about friends cannot be determined like truths about the physical world can. Many times, and without ill-intent, the protagonist unknowingly miscalculates and misjudges his friend, and is even completely unaware of his friend’s final moments alive.