It was a strange feeling, but for how vast the universe was, it seemed wrong for its inhabitants to feel alone. So much space, surely the musical pulse of life must exist elsewhere. Ivan was old. His life had wearied him early on. He had companions, once, other meteors that skated beside him, slipping across the twinkling stars to the tune of their own life. Beside his aura of radiant violet, a trail of purple following in his wake, his sisters of icy blue and midnight swam the starry seas.
But after so many days of collecting the music of starlight, their happiness together dwindled. The three became separated, and in his distressed state Ivan was distracted to the hazards of the universe. Crash after crash left him cracked and tarnished, but his radiant amethyst light continued to glow, too stubborn to be extinguished. Sometimes Ivan wondered how much easier it would be to lead a- relatively- stationary life, rather like the hazardous asteroid belts, not destined to traverse the inky black eternity.
Then, his loneliness came to an end.
As he soared through the cosmos, a sudden bump diverted his course somewhat. A brilliant orange meteor had knocked into him, preventing him from skimming beside the stars he so loved to graze. This meteor was Alfred, a celestial being not yet tarnished by the deadly wonders of the galaxy. Ivan felt himself bristle, the violet light sheathing his being pulsing with renewed energy. Who was this newcomer to challenge him and steal his stars? Just as this Alfred was about to turn another star to his own vivid orange shade, Ivan pushed him firmly aside; the star instead trilled to the tune of deepest purple.
But Alfred was stubborn. With a playfulness Ivan had long forgotten, Alfred nudged him aside in favor of collecting more stars. Their whimsical tune filled the dark void, the sounds of their collision acting as a bass to set a rhythm to their competition. Back and forth it went, Ivan equally determined as Alfred to paint more stars his color. With each nudge, an invisible heart beat out their new existence together. This proceeded until- Ivan felt dread fill him- more asteroids loomed ahead. He was so tarnished already…more collisions could mean truly lethal damage. Unable to slow, Ivan merely braced himself for impact.
It never came.
Ivan could not have known initially, but Alfred had noticed his damaged state, and knew the consequences of further harm. Alfred did not want his travel companion to be hurt. He had been alone for so long. His old companion could have been described as transient at best. It became easier to expect solitude as he sailed the starry seas. He respected Ivan for enduring as much as he had- but he would not have to deal with this if he did not have to. Alfred placed himself between his new friend and the impending peril-
Alfred had never experienced something so jarring in all his existence. It shook him right to his core. As the rubble cleared, a large crack was now visible across his surface. But behind him, Ivan was safe, his aura of violet as brilliant as ever. Through the pain, Alfred felt relieved.
Ivan was stunned. Never in all his years would he have expected Alfred to do that. And now a horrible fissure was marring that sunny being. More twinkling stars were nearing. Ivan gently veered off course, allowing Alfred easy access to them. The vast nothingness rang with the music of Alfred collecting the stars. They were approaching more still. This time, Alfred flew beside them, showing Ivan the way. Ivan understood. A tail of purple shimmered behind him as he grazed across the lovely little lights. The deed done, Alfred pushed playfully at Ivan and Ivan pushed back, knocking each other into the paths of stars or leading each other toward more of the shimmering prizes. Their gentle collisions pulsed to the rhythm of the cosmos. The music grew. Their cooperation was making a far more beautiful symphony than their rivalry had ever achieved. Alfred was the brightest thing in Ivan’s world in that moment, as the most tunes echoed around him. It was the music of friendship, it was the music of eternity.
It was the music of love.
Even in the overwhelming enormity of space, though, all things must come to an end.
A planet was growing visible. Alfred and Ivan both knew what this meant. Their course was leading them close to its gravitational field. All they could do was fight with all their might, help each other, and hope.
The pressure came soon. Alfred felt it tug incessantly at him, trying to draw him in. Beside him, Ivan fought the same power. His entire world became pulling, tugging, light, brightness, too bright, a roaring noise, wind, heat, too hot, pushing, nudging…nudging?
He was being pushed repeatedly away from the planet. The momentum gave him just the edge he needed to wrench himself free, free from the pull of gravity, and with one final flash of light, Alfred was back in outer space.
There was no Ivan with him.
No violet. No playful soaring.
Ivan had taken the brunt of the pressure, and for his sacrifice, he had been pulled down to Earth. The fire in Alfred suddenly felt dimmer. He now knew what it must feel like, to be a tiny flame in a container with limited oxygen, fighting the inevitable. Everything suddenly felt…so…silent. There was no music, no echoing booms as they bumped against each other, no lovely tune as they painted the stars together.
Slowly, very slowly, Alfred came to a stop. Pure momentum was all that drove him on. And soon, even that ceased. Ivan had saved him so Alfred may have more time in the home he so loved- in outer space. Alfred would do just that. From his stationary position, Alfred would be able to observe the galaxy’s eternal wonders, and remember when a streak of violet graced the dark seas dusted with starlight.
For even during the end of them, Alfred knew Ivan would want Alfred to know it would always be…