They learn about black holes in school today.
Dave nudges John from under the table, pulling out a messily-scribbled doodle-- his latest masterpiece, the most recent installment of his fairly popular webcomic.
John ignores him because he actually likes science class. Or maybe he just doesn't want to fail. From across the room, his sister, Jade, is also rapt at attention, eyes glued on their pale, shiny bald teacher at the front. The teacher in question is wearing his usual color palette-- white jacket, white pants, white shoes. Lime green button-up.
Dave thinks that he could really give Mr. Scratch a few pointers in the way of fasion. Maybe he'd get extra credit for it.
"To begin with, what is a black hole? Put your hands down, I'll go ahead and explain. A black hole is a region of spacetime, in which the gravitational field is so strong, it prevents anything from escaping."
Dave lets out a hot breath of annoyance, shoving the paper back into his binder. He knew all about spacetime, from that project he was assigned to with Jade. Unfortunately, she had bore the brunt of that project. He helped her pick out the pictures sometimes.
Who the hell cared about the vast workings of outer space, when none of it really mattered? They're stuck on Earth and could never get to actually go any of these places, their lifespan too short to witness most of the phenomena for themselves.
Dave really dislikes it when John ignores him.
At the front of the room, a hand shoots up. Rose is awfully on the ball today. Then again, she always is.
"Yes, Ms. Lalonde?"
"You said anything. I'm assuming that this includes even... light?"
"Hence the blackness of the black hole. Very good." He gives a slight nod in her direction, and she practically glows, as if she herself was light. Dave tries not to scoff at how she's flaunting her "teacher's pet" card so soon today.
"We'll start at the beginning," their teacher says, picking up a piece of chalk and turning to the board. He scribbles out dusty block letters.
THE LIFE CYCLE OF STARS.
Dave slinks lower in his seat. He shares a private moment of enjoyment, thinking of one of his friends, and how she would fuss over the fact that his teacher only had one color of chalk. What a waste, to have a chalkboard and only white chalk.
"Stars are created in stellar nebulae. A stellar nebulae is, you might say, a nursery for stars. If you want to be quaint."
He's scribbling stuff on the board. Dave takes the opportunity to poke at John with the rubber end of his pencil, and then, when that doesn't get the desired affect, the pointed end.
"Through a series of events, the star gradually passes through many stages of its life-- over trillions of years-- until it reaches the end of its life cycle. If a star is very large, when it dies, it may collapse into a black hole."
"You mean, like a supernovae?"
"Exactly so, however, I'd appreciate it if you didn't call out next time, Miss Lalonde. A supernova is made when the center of a very large star collapses in on itself."
John pushes Dave's pencil away with a muttered annoyance, and Dave starts to eye Rose, only a few rows away. He contemplates how easy it would be to wad up a sheet of notebook paper and lodge it in her perfect bob of blonde hair.
"Now, as for the actual properties of a black hole..."
And that's when he stops listening completely. Deciding to forgo the easy shot at Rose's head, Dave slumps a little more in his seat and closes his eyes from behind his shades, preparing to zone out entirely for the next period. He's done it plenty of times before.
Later on, he'll follow John home and sprawl himself out on the carpet while they talk about nothing in particular, John's eyes on his computer monitor, Dave's on his phone. They'll occasionally pause to plink a gooey blue Gusher into one another's mouth, Dave complaining about how disgusting they are, John agreeing with him (even if that doesn't stop them from demolishing several packets).
"Hey, what's that?" Dave will ask, glancing at the Google Images search John's conducting on his computer.
"Black holes eating stars. Weren't you paying attention in class today? Wait, let me answer that, dummy. A big fat nope! Too bad, it was actually pretty interesting."
He clicks on one, enlarges it, and Dave grudgingly admits to himself that it does look pretty cool.
"Weird, huh? To think that your entire world-- that your sun-- could go down the drain like this, and there's nothing you can do to stop it. It even kinda looks like it's going down a drain."
Dave don't answer right away, jaw working on the sticky rubber cement of the snack in his mouth. He sticks a pinky in his mouth to try and work some of the resindue out from between his teeth.
"You're a huge dork who actually thinks paying attention to Mr. Scratch's boring old lectures are cool. At this rate, we're gonna have another Lalonde on our hands," he snickers eventually.
John elbows him in the ribs a little harder than he normally would, and Dave shoves him back.
"Oh, shut up."
In another lifetime, the alternate versions of themselves disintegrate in silence.