Next to me, Argel had amassed a large pile of bright white stars. He began tossing them into place. I glanced at the small pile at my feet and began slowly creating another yellow one. Mine were always smaller than his.
“How do you make them so big?” I asked. It must have been hundreds of times by now.
“Without hesitation,” Argel replied. His arms glinted powerfully as he tossed another one out.
Again, I tried to make one like him. I put everything I had into it: brilliant wander eyes restless heart torn seeks and wound uncovered in shock, found again rift pain ripping unbearable wanting–
–and it was too much. My star imploded within my hands. Argel heard my whine of disappointment and turned in time to see me quickly brush the dust off my lap. He laughed brightly. I was embarrassed.
“With restraint,” he added chidingly. He finished tossing out his last star and stood up for a stretch. “Hah,…just a short break,” he muttered.
I decided to give up and started on another red one to console myself. Argel wandered around, stopped in the direction of something and looked out into the distance. I finished a few more and tossed them out, then noticed he had not moved from his watch post. Curious, I got up to take a look.
“No,” he said, turned to me when he noticed I came over. There was a dark look on his face. He gestured for me to return.
“What was it?” I asked.
“The Living satellite,…again.” He sighed before returning to work, angrily began making large blue stars.
I remember the first time looking down there. I thought I had discovered a treasure: a satellite with liquid water and growing organisms covering its surface. Argel and I decided to call it the Living satellite. We had never seen anything like it. I was excited and began to watch it closer in fascination. Around that time, I also began to throw out rocks with my yellow stars in hopes that I could recreate the effect. Slowly I began to notice the satellite changing. It grew dusty and spewed out loosely formed, strange, partially fused material into the space around it. We looked closer and saw its creatures destroy amongst themselves, creating foreign shapes with their bodies and then tearing themselves apart with them. We were horrified to see them turn black upon collision and be swarmed upon by more of their kind, so much unlike our stars which are able to grow to millions of times their initial brightness. Then, long after seeing its first gruesome implosions, I could not concentrate enough to create any stars. The only objects that left my hands were crude grey smoke clouds, small, unorganized and hardly bright. I cried and cried, and Argel tried his best to comfort me by showing me pretty stars and their colourful satellites. But every time I would turn to the living satellite and cry some more, until Argel outright forbade me to look at it. Eventually I was able to create real stars again. Argel, though, he looks at the Living satellite once in a while. It irritates him. I know, because he creates the brightest blue stars after looking, ones that are so unstable, they barely last after being thrown and soon implode in great, terrifying flashes of light.
But even blue stars require some restraint to make. Now, I know what he creates when he is truly angry. I once caught sight of them in the far distances beyond my reach, dark lightless objects, so dark I could barely perceive them, and frighteningly still. I asked him about them once. He replied to me in a threatening voice.
“You are too naïve. Do not ask again.”
So I return to making my red and yellow stars. I do wish I could make stars like Argel, but I am terrified of knowing what thoughts they must require to create.
Argel showed me to be proud of one thing, at least. My dull, little red stars burn longer and more steadily out of all the stars we have ever made. One time, both of us were tired and decided to try counting our stars. Of our oldest stars, the ones still living were all red, stubbornly glowing with what little they had in them. Argel told me once:
“You have small hands, well-suited to this work.”
It was true. I asked if he could make a red star. He tried, and it came out yellow, nearly white. His large hands were suddenly clumsy in creating such small balls of unwavering thought. I laughed in relief when I found out, and he snapped at me. But later he answered my question, why there are two of us when there could just as easily be one.
“You keep making your simple-minded little stars, Clares. I make my grand, majestic ones.”
Argel and me, we make stars. Together we have lost track of when we began, and how many we have made, the new ones mixed with the old, the ones that have died then reborn in our hands. As long as we are together, we will make stars to fill this universe. That’s what we are here for, Argel and I.