“Oh it was a great time we had,” reminisced Eħĝ, scratching behind the ears of Lucifer, his cat, purring on his lap. “A bit uncertain at points, but what childhood isn’t filled with bouts of ambiguity? The universe was a giant void and we had to walk a very long time until we saw the first light. It was my sister Aja who noticed it, just a faint twinkle off to the left. My brother Pux said she was just seeing things.
“By things I mean something that wasn’t nothing, which is what we were calling the darkness in those days. Beyond that there wasn’t something to see. We couldn’t even see ourselves, for we were still just voices. But Aja insisted we stop and try to gather our focus. Being a girl, her vision was much better than Pux’s or mine, and after a few minutes (a unit I use now as a frame of reference for you, as there were no minutes back then…) of squinting, we saw it too.
“This was exciting for a number of reasons, most of which would be unfathomable for you, even if I were to explicate them, but like all children we were drawn to investigate an anomaly. Being the eldest, I was a bit skeptical. Just because we saw something didn’t mean there was something.
“I said so, only to be ignored. Seized by their curiosity, Pux and Aja darted off at a clip I found difficult to maintain. They sang and laughed in the distance ahead while I huffed and puffed to keep up. For a long while the light appeared to grow no larger and several times I called out to them, suggesting that perhaps what we were seeing was merely a kind of mirage furnished by the vacuum, and that wouldn’t it be a grand disappointment to go on running if it was all in vain?
“To be sure, I hated to be a party pooper, especially since they were having such fun, but it wouldn’t have been the first time that one of us had seen ‘something’ and then, caught in the fervor that seeing can bring about, shot off in the direction of the point only to find more nothing.
“Being younger (and no doubt irritated by a lifetime of my supervision) they pretended not to hear me and (as it seemed at the time) increased their pace. For a long long while I ran with my eyes closed, which was now discernible from having them open, and navigated by following their banter ahead of me. I envisioned myself as a bat in pursuit of two moths, and this helped to pass the time.
“When I next looked I could see that a fair distance had been crossed, making it impossible to harbor any further doubt further about the existence of light. It was light, which is what my siblings and I had decided was what we would name something, if we ever found it. So there it was, this thing that wasn’t nothing – this something – that we called light.
“By the time I arrived they were dancing around it, jumping and waving their arms (not unlike the moths I had pictured them as). I joined them straightway, it was impossible for me not to, because we could now see that we had bodies, and were not just distended voices, as we had previously believed. What’s more, light was warm. (What we later called the sensation that permeated our new bodies, for previously we had never considered that there might be a way of experiencing feeling, which up until this point had only existed conceptually.)
“There’s no way of telling how long we celebrated the light, but later when we woke up in a pile it was still there, warm and glowing. We were so overjoyed that it had stayed and not gone elsewhere, had not tired of us, that we burst into song and dance all over again. How long this carried on is inconsequential (especially for those of you still trying to grasp the fifth dimension), but lets just say it took a while before we grew tired of it.
“Sitting there, warming our hands on its heat, it was Pux who suggested we give our light a new name. I was content to continue calling it light, but he and my sister were in cahoots. They said it needed a proper name, for somewhere there may be another light – more something in the nothing – and how would we distinguish this one from the other?
“Having the advantage of hindsight now, I’ll admit my siblings were operating on a superior level to me, for I suggested calling the other light ‘something’, thereby circumventing confusion between this one and the other. Light would be here, something -the other light – would be there, and where there was not light or something, there would be nothing.
“This failed to satisfy them, and I still remember feeling ashamed at the way they smirked. I was getting old they said, losing my sense of innovation, imagination. We had to embrace and utilize our discovery. Little benefit would come from it if we didn’t first ascribe it a proper nomenclature. I could see the wisdom in their idea, and felt a bit sad, not for my own shortsightedness, but because they were growing up so fast.
“Naming our light proved more difficult that we anticipated, mainly because deciding the method by which to name it took so long. We thought of any number of approaches, none of which we could agree on. Finally, after a very long time, it was Aja who took my hand in one of hers, Pux’s in the other, and told me to start walking around the light (she never could go very long before insisting on moving).
“’You stay here,’ she told Pux.
“We did as she instructed, and she followed me, her left hand in my right, her right in Pux’s left. As we walked I realized that our light was larger than I’d initially understood, and when I slowed to rest a bit, she coaxed me forward.
“’We’re not there yet!’
“I realize now that she was the sharpest of us, in those days at least, for had she not come up with this idea we might still be arguing about how to name the light. Anyhow, after walking a while further, she slowed down.
“’Keep going until you see Pux,” she called from behind.
“She eventually stopped, while maintaining a firm grasp on my hand as I kept on, the light ever shining on my right, warming me with its cheer. After a while I came upon Pux, whose right hand was halfway up his nose. He dislodged it to greet my approach, and I refused to take it until he wiped it off.
“Now that we were joined we formed a ring around the light, shadows dancing about our new faces.
“’OK,’ yelled Aja from her side of the ring. “You run towards Pux, Eħĝ. Pux you run towards me, and I’ll run towards you, Eħĝ. We’ll run as fast as we can and whoever yells the first name, that’s the one we’ll use.”
“Pux and I could see this was a clever plan and on her mark we all set off in a mad dash to the left, one sprinting after the other in a wide sweep around the light to our right. Runners know it is a simple truth that the mind clears in movimento, becoming as open and frictionless as the universe itself. We ran hand in hand, each in lucid exploration for the best possible name to give our light. I think after a while I closed my eyes and just ran in a perpetual arc, one with my siblings, yet dually autonomous in my thoughts.
“Aja, the fastest of us, began to pull on Pux, who in turn pulled on me. I compensated by running a bit faster, trying to give my little brother some slack and my legs began to feel hot and springy. Worried that I might falter, I quickly contrived a system of communication (a kind of piston-powered Morse code) via squeezes in our hands, for to utter any words was to speak the name of our new light.
“I adjusted the grip of my left hand so as to convey to Pux that he could speed up just a touch, while through the pressure of my right hand I told Aja to dial it back a notch. Pux confirmed this by increasing his pace, but Aja misread me and started to come up from behind. Pux must have relayed to her the message I had given him, thus causing her to interpret his message as mine, which while being the case, was the opposite of what I intended.
“We were moving at such a tremendous speed, a whirl really, rings of shadow around the light, that my legs began to go all melty. Not wanting to end our run, but simply to decrease its rate, I again signaled to Aja to please slow down, while giving Pux, really just a baby at that time, a squeeze to communicate that he was doing fine and need not adjust his pace.
“To my relief Aja slowed, which in turn checked Pux’s momentum, and I was able to achieve a tempo that would allow my legs a chance to recuperate. I remember thinking, ‘Let’s just keep it here for a while.’
“But no sooner had I become comfortable than Aja sped up again! I know now (having hashed the story out millions, possibly billions of times with my siblings) that Pux’s left hand had sent his sister’s right hand a message that she interpreted as ‘Go!’, (when in reality what he had wanted to convey was ‘Good!’), but at the time I had no knowledge of this. I only knew that as my right arm went slack, my left arm stretched to its very limit.
“What happened next was as abrupt as anything else I’ve experienced in this universe. I was snapped by Pux (whom Aja was pulling) like a rubberband, and shot forward wildly off balance.
“’Son of a…’ I yelled as I fell, landing hard, with Aja coming crashing onto me from behind, and then Pux atop of her. I have no regret now that I couldn’t keep my mouth shut, but it took several eons for me to get over my disappointment. Of all the words I could have said… Still, we had to abide by Aja’s rule.
“I admit that the name has grown on me… everybody seems to like it just fine…but at the time I was terribly upset. Nonetheless, it works I suppose. And we have found so many others that nowadays it makes more sense to use numbers as names.
“Aja and Pux have long since moved on. My sister went to do volunteer work in another dimension and started an NGO. Pux, ever the rambler, leads tours around the galaxy and sends a postcard from time to time. I on the other hand have chosen to stay in the neighborhood. I like to sit here in my breakfast nook with the morning newspaper and a cup of coffee, warmed by the rays of our first light.”