When Stars Don’t Collide

Isa Silva, Béla v. Béla. Oil pastel and acrylic paint on canvas, 2023.


By Ginger Marhev


        Scientists believe the sun was once part of a binary system. As much as, of course, scientists believe anything. They think it more likely than not, however, that once, the sun was one of a pair.

        And that perhaps, once the sun loved.

        They never said that part, because scientists are small-minded and can only see the oxytocin in front of them. That’s why they haven’t found the aliens yet, looking instead in the water and on the radio waves for some cells they can understand. 

        So maybe the sun was once loved, or was once in love. Maybe the two traded jokes across solar winds, and had a name for Planet Nine. We know that stars can sing, in ways that make the distance between them feel less vast. And they did sing, a family of flames, two star-parents and a smattering of protoplanet children, made of lava and twirling in an uneven dance.

        The sun is alone now, only dead planets keeping her company. Planet nine is dark and far away, their name forgotten, and Earth ferments with crawling things, and if she wasn’t dead and rotting she would wheeze with all the steam and smog in her lungs.

        Why did they leave? Once they would’ve once been seen from some faraway observatory as one star, intertwined, one body. They didn’t want to go, though that hardly helps. The scientists suspect another star went careening into their gravitational dance and with a single misstep, the sun’s lost love was pulled away. Maybe it took time, years, and the sun saw them spin out of orbit and out of control. Or maybe to a star, it was no time at all between a dozen living children made of fire, swirling in their wild games, and the stone graveyard she now stands guard over.

        And so I do not think we are loved by the sun, no more than I think we love her like we would our own, no more than we love the bacteria that change the faces of the dead. She has nothing left to love, and nothing left living. Not in a way she would know.

        We are dead to her and she is dead to us, or perhaps we were never alive.

        Four years ago, we learned that the sun was once part of a binary system, that the sun once had a family and a love. The scientists think it more likely than not.