The tiny cube’s screen pulsed her spectrum: a ribbon-like stream of color representing SDSS J010657.39. Accompanied with the sonification of its energy, Yelda had no trouble falling asleep most nights. She’s found that she wasn’t so interested in the synchronous gauges like the ones in her father’s office and her mother’s zen room. She liked to sync herself to her star in her mind without the stress of trying to control her own pulse. That type of gauging was surface level to Yelda. Synchronizing her thoughts with SDSS J010657.39’s steady rhythm meant a lot more to her.

People gauged with stars like it was just another routine in their day. That’s why Yelda liked the cube. It wasn’t invasive. It could serve as a night lamp or a television, always reminding her of the wonder that was so far away.

She’d met Jansen on her bike ride to school two months before. It was immediately obvious that he was born in a lab. His face was strikingly symmetrical and soft. He was matched with Alnitak, a huge star in Orion.

Yelda saw chemistry between stars the same way she saw gauging: just because there wasn’t a physical component that paired Alnitak and SDSS J010657.39 didn’t mean that a spiritual component didn’t bind them together. Afterall, the universe was once just a tiny ball of matter. For their stars to have cascaded so far from one another and then found each other again was beautiful.

But her parents didn’t see it that way.

“You are part of a binary system with such strength. We’ve tracked your sister star. Why won’t you meet her?”

“Jansen’s is my sister star.”

When Yelda’s mother was challenged, she immediately forgot all of her zen practices and lashed out like a child. “That’s ridiculous Yelda. Go to bed. You’re nineteen, you don’t know anything about love.”

A few days later, Yelda returned home from school to a stranger in the dining room. It was a woman who looked to be around fifty years old. Her posture was intense and she wore a shirt buttoned all the way up, making Yelda feel claustrophobic herself.

“This is SDSS 100003.3. You’re going to spend the evening with her. I think you’ll get along well.” With that remark, both Yelda’s mother and father left the table.

The woman looked at Yelda and smiled. “You can call me Lucy. Let’s go get something to eat.”

They got in a fairly recent car model and drove most of the way in silence. When they pulled into the parking lot, Lucy put her hand on Yelda’s leg as she was about to open the door. “I think we could be very happy together. I can support you. There’s just such a strong pull between us. Don’t you feel it?”

@2015 Kayla Lewis