Was this what the moment of creation was like, a first kiss? Bella had been dreaming of it and the Big Bang her entire life, how everything in the universe aligned to make this happen. Here. Now. Could this go on forever? How much more could the universe expand?

It became slightly less than infinitely hot the moment after her singularity of loneliness exploded. The universe cooled quickly as the two young physics undergraduates broke their lips apart, but stars exploded into existence as their matter was unable to resist the infinite reach of gravity. A whole new cosmos is born out of hesitant touches and reticent glances until their mouths reached across a void.

Bella and Byrce drew themselves back slowly like a dual star system trying not to collapse under its own attraction. Cosmic butterflies sailed on solar winds in Bella’s heart while Bryce’s eyes tried not to flush with warm dihydrogen monoxide. Bryce lowered his head, shut his eyes and grinned.

“I’ve wanted to do that since the moment you answered Professor Ranjee’s question about the Doppler Effect,” he said.

“I know,” Bella answered though reddened cheeks. “I saw you turn around and give me that look.”

They sat crossed legged on the university lawn with their hands on each other’s hips. Electromagnetic radiation cascaded down on their heads on this cloudless day. The laws of physics, or perhaps it was more the laws of biology, saw them move towards each other once more. Their atoms were close enough now to elicit a spark between their lips though they had not touched yet.

Then Bella coughed. It was a light sound but distinct, like the lining of her throat had gone dry and peeled away. The redness in her cheeks receded at the speed of light. She withdrew her celestial body.

“Five minutes and twenty seconds,” she wheezed.

The universe is harsh and cruel and doesn’t care; Bryce loved saying that. But now, at this moment, his words were so prescient he tried to recall exactly how many times he’d said it so he knew exactly how much to regret it. This was the ultimate ‘It’s not fair’ moment. Only his love for Bella could restrain his rage. With time fleeting, Bryce laid it out.

“Bella, I love you. I love you and I will always love you and I will never forget you,” his voice cracked. “Quick, kiss me! You can die here in my arms!” Bryce hastily reached out to pull Bella into his orbit.

Bella pushed him away like a magnet of the same polarity. Bryce’s face turned green, not understanding. Then Bella pulled her shirt over the top of her head. She reached around her back and unclasped her bra. Anticipating her trajectory, Bryce watched her hands slide her khaki capris right off.

“What are you doing?” He put one hand out in a halting fashion while leaning back on the other. His head spun from side to side and counted the other students who forming an asteroid belt around them. “Bella, are you crazy?”

“Bryce!” she shouted in a feral voice. “I am about to die. But I am not going to die a virgin!” she explained tossing her black undergarments into the wind. “Get. Your. Pants. Off!” Now it was her turn to lunge.

“Bella, everyone’s watching!” Bryce informed her as he tried to wrestle her hands away. “Don’t fight it! Just lie here in my arms, please!” Physicists were romantics, not exhibitionists in his mind.

Not in Bella’s. She finally managed to wrangle his jeans off while he tried to back peddle. He looked like an antelope in plaid boxers trying to escape a lioness. Some of the students surrounding them broke out their smart phones and started to take video. One young man, blue dress shirt buttoned up proper, phoned campus security.

“If you love me, have sex with me! Hurry! There’s no time! Come! On!” Bella grabbed Bryce by the arms and with a force so strong it’s usually found only inside the nucleus of an atom, pulled Bryce on top of her.

Unfortunately, Bryce was a virgin, too. Worse, he performed terribly under pressure. The other students laughed as Bella and Bryce’s quantum entanglement looked more like noodles flailing in a bowl. The poor boy had gone from the throes of the most enigmatic but irresistible force known to man to the coldness of space at the end of the universe in Plank time. As he wrestled with Bella, he caught the constellations in her eyes and mustered all his sexual frustrations to pin her wrists down. He turned his head to the sky and squeezed his eyes shut so hard they would have turned carbon to diamond.

“Everyone, stop laughing! She just had The Cough! She’s about to die!” His guttural cry drowned out the sirens closing in. The students stopped laughing. Bella stopped struggling and lay still underneath him.

“Do you really love me?” Bella whispered.

“Yeah, Bella, I do,” Bryce answered and his eyes fell back to Earth. “That’s why I can’t do this. I want it to be special. I want it to be special because I think you’re special.”

“You’ll never know for sure, now,” she laughed. The sound was like a single particle popping into existence out of the vacuum of space, then quickly being annihilated by its anti-matter twin.

Bella saw Bryce smile thanks to the reflection of certain wavelengths of light. She felt his grip on her wrists soften.

“There are no certainties in the universe,” Bryce reminded her, “only probabilities.”

Bella weakened and her skin began to reflect all the colors of the spectrum. Her eyes turned opaque and her soul, if she had one, left to escape the laws of physics.

“It’s true what they say,” Bryce breathed. “Time is relative.”

He sat over her naked body and looked at her as though she were still electrified by the spark of life. All the while he could hear the quiet murmurs of the other students and the wail of the campus police car stop. Security crushed grass underneath their feet. But they were now and would forever be outside of Bella’s light cone and never get to see her the way he did. It was a few light-years later an officer finally pulled him away from the dead star.

When questioned about the incident later, the young man was truthful. He told the police about The Cough. They understood; incidents like this weren’t uncommon anymore given the recently discovered deadly virus.

“You know, there are a few ideas about how the universe will end, if it ends,” Bryce said in his official statement. “One theory thinks the universe will expand forever, growing cold after it loses all of its energy. Another thinks the universe will collapse upon itself and time will run backwards, giving us a chance to live all over again. Sort of, anyway.” Bryce nodded to affirm this idea. “I hope that’s what happens. Yeah, I hope that’s what happens.”


All Rights Reserved © February 2017 John J Vinacci

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