Interstellar Reddening

By Natalie Schriefer

You are starlight—a beautiful blue, a deep sapphire like ice. You’ve travelled years from your home star, unencumbered until a cloud of cosmic dust hazes the horizon. No matter, you think. Not for light as blue as you.

The cloud shimmers as you enter. You squeeze past debris, and a sliver of you refracts. It hurts, but you filter forward—right into a smear of radiation. Another azure layer sheers away. That’s when you notice: your blue is reddening. Purpling like a bruise. You want to stop, turn around, and return to the brilliance of your mother star, but light is as linear as time. The only way out is through.

And on the other side? You’re red. Scarlet. You were wrong about so much. In the distance, pulsars twinkle and nebulae glow, and you can see it now, the expanse of the universe—everything breathtakingly beautiful, breathtakingly strong.

Natalie Schriefer, MFA often writes about outer space and coming of age. She loves asking people about their fictional & celebrity crushes (hers is Riza Hawkeye from Fullmetal Alchemist). Find her on Twitter @schriefern1.