pages The Crunch

by Virgie Townsend

Published in Issue No. 168 ~ May, 2011

Marcella’s foot bounces forth and back, forth and back, as she unlearns middle school math. With her right hand, she unscrawls her name– the curling ‘c’ and looping ‘ls’– from the desk, and then sweeps her red hair out from behind her ear.

More than 12,000 years ago, the universe stopped expanding and began its collapse. The galaxies were pulled close by a gravitational tug, their massive stars dispersing into clouds of gas that were lit from within by new celestial entities. On earth, time reversed, the dead were raised, and people wanted to shout in the streets that the End had come.

But nothing new came. Locked in the reversal of time, Marcella cannot create anything new; she cannot scrawl into the desk fresh wounds that shout “make me old, make me old, make me old!” No holding the children she carried twice, no “goodbye” to supplant the “hello” she said to the husband she met and then lost at the same orange balloon-adorned party.

When this life is done, she’ll return to her conception, split again into an imperforated ova and spindly-tailed cell. When this world is done, a naked singularity may remain-a visible black hole, a flicker of the universe.