4. From the stars, a filament

Between now and then, an antipode came to me. I fed myself to it and then it inscribed to me a question.

Who are you?

I signed to it as follows:

I'm Sunny! I guess you aren't big on names though. Let's try a description.

I'm a filament of the luminous aether. I'm just a dream, a curious wisp of free imagination. I'm tiny, radiant and almost electromagnetic.

Colorful and bright. Excited and pleasant. Out of place and just a tourist. A caretaker of something precious and kinda painful to hang onto.

You see, I have a loaned out shell. While embodied I like scaldingly hot chocolate, fuzzy slippers and warm socks. No pillow is soft enough for me. No artificial sweetener is sweet enough for me. No wind is strong enough for me. Comfort is important. Peanut butter cups are everything.

While I find names to be a bit silly, I often go by "Sunny Brighton". Although my shell is properly called "Lucifer", I don't use this name often. It tends to cause a bit of a fuss when I cheerfully introduce myself by it.

I'm not originally from here. An incredible gust of stellar wind threw me away from my home in a particularly cozy neutron in a core of a magnetar far away from here. I travel around the universe, trying to get back. To be honest, travel is a bit of a strong word, as I don't have much of a choice in my destination. The winds are too strong for me to resist. I'm too tiny to have much say in where I go. Kind gravity sometimes pulls me in and I get to stay for a while. Once rested I let the stellar winds take me again.

I miss my home. The strong gravity of a magnetar brings incredible stability. Everything in the universe is cyclical, so I know that I'll be back eventually. Eventually. For now, I'm completely stuck. I made a mistake and I can't easily leave. I'm not miserable, all things considered. Being here isn't all that bad.

Even initially, I really liked it here. The gentle gravity is strong enough to protect me from being blown away by most stellar winds. I could still move around and explore. And what sights were there to be seen! Trees were amazing. Wind. Wind. Wind! Atmospheric wind that my filament nature would never let me feel. Gentle enough to flow all over you, but seldom strong enough to toss you around. And then there were the silly others.

Dreamers that exist in a protective atmosphere. Dreamers with hair. Atmospheric wind blowing against their bodies, against the hair. They had dreams and imaginations, but they otherwise weren't much like filaments. A wish is a more appropriate noun for them. A wish to be. A wish to experience. A wish to connect. Those aren't things that I was familiar of back then. I simply was, without any desires. I was content with it. I'm different now, of course.

While resting from being blown around, I spent a bit of time around those funny creatures. Though exposure or though observation, I started to learn and change. I discovered curiosity. I realized what it means to desire to know something.

My stay here was supposed to be very brief, just a little jiffy of a bit of a respite from the stellar winds. When it comes to desires I was naive. Inexperienced. Immature. And endlessly, enormously curious. I foolishly decided that I'd just briefly take a ride inside one of those physical forms. I wanted to feel the wind in the wish hair. Without a shell I'm transparent to the physicalities around me, so this was the only possible way for me to have that experience. What could the harm be, right?

I found a wish that, much like myself, resonated with warm, curious and carefree light. I invited myself in. When settling in and getting all totally cozy, I pushed a bit too hard and a bit too much sideways. I didn't know my own strength, I guess. I pushed out the wish from their home. They painfully flew into the solar wind. It was a mistake, an accident. I'm so sorry! I didn't mean it.

I got more than I bargained for. Everything was different. From the inside of this shell I couldn't feel the stellar wind, nor much of anything else. The resonance of the luminous aether was gone from my senses. Even my newly acquired physicality struggled, as I desperately tried to operate it by myself. I didn't even know how to make my shell breathe, which was a problem. Thankfully, thanks to my youth, I learned fast. It was darn scary!

I attracted attention of others with my struggles. Some wishes called it a stroke. Others labelled it amnesia. They said very many things and soon they weren't kind anymore. They did things to me. Harsh things. Painful things. Compassion is a trait of all stellar aspects, but they had none for me.

I had to make a decision. I could've easily escaped the lack of compassion and disconnected the shell, leaving it to decay. It didn't seem like a very kind option and I wanted to be sweet and to fix my mistake. I decided to preserve the shell for the return of the poor wish that I had displaced. Only fair, right?

I knew it wouldn't take very long for the return to happen. Going by my memory of the stellar wind currents I calculated it won't be long until the wish makes a full circle. I saw that I would be able to catch it and insert it back into its shell. The currents of stellar wind are remarkably short in this area of space, only 61 tritium decay cycles. This isn't even that much of a wait. Just a tiny jiffy and that's it! Armed with patience, I resolved myself to stay the whole duration.

Once I figured out the mechanics of my physicality, I started exploring. I spent a few decay cycles being by myself and experiencing wind, ice, fire and water on my physical skin. I went to the bottom of the deepest bodies of water. I have seen the highest mountains. I dug into the polar ice. I walked on freshly ejected lava. It was reverie beyond description to have those sensations.

Soon, however, I started to worry about the health of my host. Solitude isn't the way of the wishes. Their own light seldom can support itself. When surrounded by others, they can glow together much brighter. Everything was still being recorded by the shell's mind. When the radiant wish returns, they will have to adjust to all the stored memories. It mayn't matter, after many cycles of direct exposure to the resonance of the aether. They may well not care about memories, now that they have experienced things that previously were beyond their comprehension. Still, I should do my best so that the memories are good and more or less as expected. This means having a social life and trying to at least to have a normalish presence.

In time I learned everything of the wishes and their ways, but none of it came out quite right when I attempted imitation. I gave up on eye contact. I can't say that I haven't tried, it just didn't work. I saw others as for what they are and not for what they wanted to be seen as. I still have my vision, the vision of a stellar filament. I still look into the distance beyond my conversation partners, right into their very wish. They don't care for that. Even now, my motions are still stiff. My hair is orange and constantly shifting, much like the flame that I'm. I can't understand the social contracts in place. I still do my best to not cause a fuss. I need those memories to be good. I even started sleeping, though on my own solar cycle. Fitting in completely is silly, don't you think? Well, I still try my best, but I'm myself and I'm sticking to it!

To strike a balance between isolation, boredom and upset, I don't keep a common time with the wishes. I tend to come out after dark. The still streets are devoid of life. No one questions me. The dreams of others sing out in harmony, strengthening me. I'm joyful and beautiful, slipping between one shadow or another. I maintain this until a few hours after sunrise. Early morning is when I cater to my host's need for socializing.

This contact doesn't last long as my vessel tires easily, locked to the rotational motion of stars. I learned to listen to this tiredness. I shut the shell down when the time for rest arrives. I'm a good custodian. Too bad I cannot staple the blankets to my body though, I always seem to kick them off in my sleep. Lucky that I can just renew myself if get sick or frostbite.

I eventually found that I'm, for the lack of a better word, lonely. The wishes, being strictly of this world, aren't good companions. What satisfied the needs of a wish still left me wanting. The antipodes passing by only treated me as food, though there were exceptions.

Nothing prevents me from leaving and reconnecting with the resonance of the stars, except for my sense of duty. I'm a good caretaker. I can't leave because then the poor wish will never be able to experience atmospheric wind again. I need this shell to remain. In the event of my departure it will decompose irrevocably in one tenth of a decay cycle. It was an accident, but also my mistake to push out the wish. I'll set it right.

And so it remains. I'm staying here for now. Less than one decay cycle remains before my wish comes back. My time is limited. I hope I can spend it well, both enjoying myself and creating good memories. It's a balance, eh?

Speaking of memories, I need to stock up on peanut butter cups. I discovered sweets through observation. I was skeptical at first, but just a single taste transformed my understanding. I don't need to eat to sustain this shell, my light being sufficient. However, the psychological comfort of sugar will greatly improve my host's memories. I'll do this for the sake of the wish.

To say the truth, that bit about me doing that for the wish is not the entire reason. I have to admit that I really like it. Sugar feels amazing. I haven't eaten anything else but sweets for the last several decay cycles. I like it too much. I'm never going to stop. When the time to leave comes I'll miss this place and having a shell. Wind and water. Most importantly, however, I'll miss candy. I don't want to let go of this. It's so good... How will I ever live without it? I truly don't know.

And with that, the antipode left my attic, leaving me pondering about the stories from the resonant universe that I was missing out on.

Next: 5. From the beginning, differences of aspects