©2019 by Variant Literature Inc.

The Most Outstanding Fact about The Universe

By Ishita Sharma

I once saw on TV

a scientist

who was speaking generally

about science-y things

and generally speaking

I am not a science person

and while I respect them

I have little interest in science things

or scientists

so I went to switch the channel

and at that exact moment

the presenter sitting across the scientist asked:

what,

in your opinion,

is the most astounding fact that you know?

and this stopped me

because I wanted to hear her answer to this interesting question;

after a pause

she did not look directly at the camera

instead choosing to look at the presenter

did you know

she said

that there are atoms in your body?

the presenter laughed

of course

what else would my body be made up of?

I did not have to look at the TV to know that the scientist was smiling

well

she said

do you know where they came from?

the presenter remained silent

the most astounding fact that I have ever known is not a fact, essentially

she began

but the story of every atom on the planet

the ones that make up the sand and the sea and the grass

they come from stars.

the presenter leaned forward and so did I

stars

continued the scientist

are mortal

like us,

they die,

and are unstable in their last few years

and a star's death

is much more dramatic than a human’s

the presenter smiled

is it now?

the scientist nodded, it is

the stars

I am referring to

collapsed and exploded a long time ago

and scattered themselves across the entire universe

and in that moment

I wondered if she was a scientist

or a poet

and then? asked the presenter

the scientist's lips quirked upwards as she replied

they become part of gas clouds

ones that condense will form

another star

which will lead to formation of another solar system

so, she smiled

where do your atoms come from?

the stars, the presenter replied

yes, the scientist replied

but I'll tell you something better

the universe is within us,

your atoms

my atoms

and the atoms of everyone watching us

came from stars

you're connected and relevant without even having to try

you are made up of stardust and essentially, the universe

and that

is the most astounding fact

I can tell you

the presenter smiled and the scientist smiled wider

and later

when I switched the channel

to something less scientific

I wondered if I should feel small,

tiny and insignificant,

and that is how my mother found me

sitting on the sofa

and when she asked me what was wrong

I said, I'm smaller than the stars

my mother is a very literal woman as such

and her natural response was

of course you are

and she left the room and it is years later but

I still think about the scientist and what she said

and I still think that stars are big

but now I think

they are in me

so I am big too.