[Intentional misquote for title]
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “An Extreme Tale.”
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
Gina liked to recall quotes from novels while staring at the images and data gathered from the satellite telescope. To look at that vast expanse of space, pulled into points of light and bleeding off into pitch-black swaths of bubbly malachite, and to transfer onto it some kind of moral causation. That was her real passion.
“Every one suspects himself of at least one of the cardinal virtues, and this is mine: I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known.”
She imagined the words echoing out into that void, catching in places where the person uttering them had been, had hung their hat. They tinged obscure solar homesteads where the speaker had eaten warm meals and then later been cheated and betrayed, had loved and lost; they jetted across vast cities of seemingly unlimited vice; governments dictated by greed.
“There is not one big cosmic meaning for all, there is only the meaning we each give to our life, an individual meaning, an individual plot, like an individual novel, a book for each person.”
All those tiny white specks were vast stars, separated by billions of light years. The sense of isolation one could read into images of the universe was incredible, Gina thought. Was there really other forms of life out there? To be an island of one, to have the strength to stand up against the profound scale of it all and not simply dissolve into the icy blankness, that was something. It was something guarded by the high-streets and arcades, fashion, delicate buttons, jokes and hot coffee.
“There is neither happiness nor unhappiness in this world; there is only the comparison of one state with another … It is necessary to have wished for death in order to know how good it is to live…..the sum of all human wisdom will be contained in these two words: Wait and Hope.”
Gina kept smiling to herself as these thoughts passed through her mind. And she glanced sideways at the data she had to compile in her report. Pages upon pages of numbers charting small shifts in different parts of the universe. Like PI or binary code, it had an insane quality about it – completely meaningless to anyone who didn’t know how to apply it. But with that, a majestic beauty. She looked again at the blurry black and white image, she imagined someone out there somehow making an impact upon what she saw. Some kind of message.
“Not all those who wander are lost.”