by Alex Khansa
I pick up today’s paper. There’s a ring of light—bright and blurry—against a black backdrop. Headlines call it the first ever photo of a black hole.
I know he’d like it. He always had a thing for space, aliens, planets—all that documentary nonsense on Netflix.
When I see him, I hand him the paper—wait for him to react.
They tell me he doesn’t remember who I am. His eyes say otherwise.
They tell me he’s somewhere else—in the clouds, with the stars.
He brings his index and middle fingers to his lips, inserting and removing an invisible cigarette bud from his mouth.
And I wouldn’t mind offering him one—what difference does it make?
But they tell me I can’t do that. I can talk to him, they say. Sing to him, show him family photos.
In the article, they say the black hole is so dense it sucks everything in, but they don’t know how light escapes.
And I tell him, “It’s a mystery.”
I tell him, “It’s like the sparkle in your eyes.”
He smiles, and the way he does it, you’d wanna believe he’s smiling with you.
Then, the article suggests that the light is all the things being sucked in. Never to be seen again.
And here it comes again—that dull gaze.
So, I hold his hand. Grip tightly. Wait for that black hole to swallow us into the black pit of our next life.
Fajer Alexander Khansa was born and raised in Lattakia, Syria and Tokyo, Japan. He moved to the United States in 2005, where he completed his studies at USC. His writing has appeared in publications such as Tin House and The Normal School. He is a fiction reader for New England Review and a 2019 PEN America Emerging Voices Fellow.