|And so you tell me. And I wait. And I try to understand.
Outside the glow intensifies, and some of the revellers move away from the boulevard and over to the viewside. I look to you for a moment, and you give a shrug, and then we go too.
I feel like I should be hurting around now. I feel like I should be feeling something.
We reach the viewside, and I could have told all these tourists what was happening. I've seen it a thousand times before. I would think that you have too, although perhaps not here. There are a few gasps, and someone says "beautiful".
The comet has brushed the grid, and one side of it is peeling away, perhaps a million chunks of ice the size of ships slowly tumbling apart into dust, the gases swirling in those corkscrew spirals as the fields tug at them, and the light from Gravus is refracting through the whole mess and adding a rainbow sheen like a wash of every colour at once.
I think how I probably can't see half of the colours. I think how you probably can.
One little girl is standing mesmerised, her arms hanging at her sides, her mouth gently working, miming silent words. There is no one with her. She is stretched looking, a low-gno for sure, and maybe from past Luscona, judging by her garb. You'd know. If I asked.
I look at her eyes, so close to the viewside that the azure blue is sweeping back off them and illuminating the glass in two needlepricks. She looks as though she's forgotten to breathe, but she'll have forgotten this by next year. Just another gawp.
Are you bored? I don't want to look at you. I look outside, past the silent destruction of a billion year journey and onto the mainland, clearer than crystal, green and purple and dark blue, almost black. I'll be down there, then, maybe in a few hours, or maybe tomorrow.
I've been here before, and it won't be a problem. In a week or two, gone. I look past the crest of the planet and at the stars. Countless glints against nothingness. Where I come from they used to think they were eyes - the eyes of the sky. We took a while to catch up. You used to rib me for that.
They're not eyes. Eyes you stand and look into, but these, the nearest ones, are thousands of hundreds of light-years away, and behind them there are more, and more, and more. It never ends. That's where you're going.
Okay then. It's over, and that's not a problem, but then some part of me that is definitely not me grabs a fistful of my brain and holds it up to my mind's eye and says, look, you loved and it was no different than before, but right now it's fresh, so LOOK:
I'm on my back and it's silent and I wonder if I'm dying and I think is this what it feels like? A creeping cold that starts in the lungs and heart and spreads outwards like a cluster of voriful, until I'll just be stone. And then at the edge of my eyes something moves, a figure. And I'm not even aware I've moved before my hand is resting on cold, cold plastisteel, and my eyes are staring at my reflection in a green visor surrounded by red. There were only my eyes then, but when I first saw you suitless I never forgot where your eyes were, and every time I looked at that visor from then on I could see them blazing like twin stars, as though the visor wasn't there at all.
Then I was lifted from the ground and it all went dark.
Was that it? Says the other-me. No? He grabs another fistful of brain and pushes me closer.
This time it's dark. No, not dark. Dark suggests there is little light, but here there is none. Around us the ship hammers and clangs and whirrs. Outside it's silent. In here I breathe in the scent of your skin and sweat, and even though I can't see a thing I can still see your eyes looking straight back at me. In a billion cycles this will all be dust and nothing will know we were even here, and the Universe machine will grind on and on as it always has, but we'll still be here somehow. This is infinite.
What's the significance of all these eyes? Only 3% of life has eyes. All these eyes around us now, fixed on the comet dust.
It's OK. I'm going now. I've been in this situation before and I've said I'm OK and I haven't been, I've had a pain in my chest like that lasbolt, right through me, and I've taken years to heal, but this time I really mean it.
I don't turn to look at you, and I doubt that surprises you. I walk back to the boulevard across the metal floor, and in a few seconds I'll melt into the crowd and be gone. In a billion cycles this will all be dust, and no one will know we were ever here, and even if they did, they wouldn't care.