Distant Worlds

I was on my way to the kitchen, crossing the dark foyer, when Peter came downstairs to find me. It was early, maybe around 6:30, but already dark as midnight. I heard him from the shadows as he called my name, said, "You have to see this."

His vague shape with its familiar angles disappeared quickly around the bend in the stairs. There were no lights on in the upstairs hallway, no lights on in our bedroom or in any of the rooms branching from the hall. There was nothing but the moonlight from the second story foyer window casting its bluish light - movie dark.

I knew Peter had slipped into one of the bedrooms. I must have seen his shadow dart through the open doorway, although I became less sure at the top of the stairs. "Peter?" I called as I walked down the hall, then followed his reassuring reply from the room just ahead.

When I entered, there was no one. The room was empty. The curtains over one window were thrown wide apart. I was about to call again when a movement from the deep black brought his silhouette to briefly obscure the edge of the dark glass. "Look."

Stepping forward the blackness became a dark landscape. Blue-black sky above black-blue trees, car headlights flashing between the branches and tiny dots that were airplanes twinkling above.

"Do you see them?" His voice was close, above and behind, trailing past my left ear while his right arm came to rest around my hip. "Those two bright lights that look like planes?"

I saw them. Two lights shining straight ahead, one atop the other in a nearly direct line. They were brighter than planes, closer, but stationary. Peter's left hand reached forward to point from one light to the next.

"Venus," his finger hesitated near the first before trailing to the second, "and Jupiter."

I looked at them, these small lights that were brighter than stars. I blinked, feeling for a moment as if I had stepped out of my own time. Unable to put the feeling into words.

"They look so close," I said at last, though it wasn't enough.

"It's amazing," Peter agreed, "that we can see other planets, right there with the naked eye. Amazing when you stop to think about it."

"Yes," I nodded, knowing what he meant. For an instant, the perspective became clear. The planets around our own sun, the true distance of the other stars, the possibility of other planets around those stars, of other life, somewhere, gazing out at distant specks of light.

There was nothing else to say.

We went downstairs. We turned on the lights, made dinner, and went on with our lives.

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