“He’ll never set the world on fire.”
Supermassive Black Hole
He’ll never set the world on fire.
Kevin blamed it mostly on that incident involving his first attempt at making Ramen on his own in his college dorm. After spending three hours in the snow, in his boxers, at two thirty in the morning with fifty of his newest enemies set him off from fire and anything flame-related. He even got a little jumpy around his birthday cake.
But even more than that, Kevin never really felt the urge to do anything that required a fire extinguisher to be close at hand. And it was never like he had any dreams of grandeur. He had spent too much time just trying to get through the day without getting cut in line at the bank or getting hit by a bus while crossing the street that he didn’t have much energy left to think about being exciting or wonderful or any other adjective other than ‘visible.’
And that was something Kevin was working on with his shrink. When she remembered that he had an appointment.
Because that was Kevin’s problem. He was normal. Forgettable, really. When he was a baby, his mother had forgotten him five separate times in various parking lots, and had once even packed him in the trunk with the groceries. His father had left for a weekend-long father-son fishing trip without him, and hadn’t realized that Kevin wasn’t in the truck when he was packing up to return home.
Kevin had gotten used to being invisible and really didn’t want the attention anyway.
Until he saw her for the first time: Miranda Philomena Oliviette Cassandra Jenkins. The girl with too many first names, too much eyeliner and fire-engine red hair. She waltzed into his nine a.m. astrophysics class exactly thirteen minutes late, stomped the snow from her Doc Martins and slid into the empty desk next to him neither acknowledging nor ignoring his presence. She started picking at the purple nail polish on her thumb, flicking the chips onto his meticulous notes, and cracking her gum.
She was a transfer, he found out, through careful eavesdropping. She was an enigma wrapped in a thin casing of mystery who only slept two hours a day, the rumor mill delivered. She went to every party every weekend, and could shotgun two beers in under a minute, he heard through the grapevine. She only spoke in riddles, and had a challenging twinkle in her eye, someone said. She was a quiet, thoughtful, beautiful girl comprised of personas and masks, who pulled everyone toward her with certainty and confidence, he discovered for himself.
For eight weeks, Jenks sat next to him in her absurdly bright-colored clothes and dark makeup, flicking nail polish of the week chips onto carefully drawn star charts and calculations of the gravitational pull of Sagittarius on objects of varying size (including a bowl of petunias). And for eight weeks, Kevin contemplated the best way to ignite her world with the strength of a thousand burning stars.
Two weeks before the end of the semester and two days before he was ready to pull her out of her seat in class to somewhere far more exciting – an environment more suited to her – she was gone.
In her wake she left a gravitational singularity that pulled him apart like a supermassive black hole devouring a star, tearing it apart into its components, scattering stardust across the universe. He fell into the center of the space she formerly occupied, and suddenly became the center of the galaxy.
nt - 2/13/10
*Prompt taken from The Write Brain Workbook: 366 Exercises to Liberate Your Writing by Bonnie Neubauer