The Fragments of Olivia

(Or Pieces from Olivia…)
Miguel Ángel Mendaro Johnson

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© From the text: 2011, MIGUEL ÁNGEL MENDARO JOHNSON © Design from the cover: 2011, MIGUEL ÁNGEL MENDARO JOHNSON

A summer storm in June 2013. The sun is setting, it is 8:33pm

I am searching for a star in the heavens, one that possesses an exceptional luster and that has not yet been discovered. I am using the telescope that I made with my own hands, with much love and that I am tremendously proud of. It is not conventional, no, it is not; it spirals into itself like a giant sea snail that, when stretched out, measures three hundred and twelve point seven hundred and forty five kilometers long. But if it is stretched out straight it is useless. What makes it unique is the spiral. Defying all scientific laws, this spiral permits me to see, in real time, what is happening in all of the secret corners of the sky. Just like that. What I see, is. Anyone who happens to look through a normal telescope, binoculars or anything else will just see a photograph. If the sky was a window on an Internet navigator, it might be enough to press the F5 to update it. Too bad it’s not that simple! Everyone knows that if a star is twenty nine light years away and disappears, it would take us twenty nine years to witness the event. An authentic step backward for this gentleman in love! Especially when one wants to give, as a present to his loved one, a nebulous or a star so striking it would equal her beauty (as though that were possible, Darling) so that it could justly carry her name. I have been trying for months to offer Olivia a star, but the idea of giving to her a 29 year old image just doesn’t convince me. I thought about giving in and giving her this ordinary gift but warning her first: Olivia, I will give you this star, but you must know that it is a portrait of what it was one hundred an thirty years ago. You will never live long enough to see what it looks like today. I know this would make her sad, and therefore, my dear Olivia, I love you so much that I have wound up physics in a big snail shaped… The storms calmed. It smells like rain and this fragrance soaks my bones; between the clouds there are openings, the sky is cleaner than it has ever been. And there it is! The most beautiful star…it is so worthy of you. I searched through my files to see if someone had already found it. I introduced the coordinates and… I don’t believe it! It has already been discovered…! But it has a horrendous name! It is just a mere and sad number. The amateur astrologer who discovered it was named Alan and his last name was German and unpronounceable.

The most recent image does not have the aspect that I can see through my spiraled telescope. But of course, it is seven light years away. And what they see is not what is… Olivia! It is as beautiful as you!

The first leaf falls, it is amber. Autumn of 2013. I smell coffee, it is 10:22am

With these short and simple words I got in touch via electronic mail with the owner and discoverer of the star that was so worthy of Olivia. The very night Alan discovered it he gave it its name (numbered as 1.23331C). In words you could not imagine the delicious aroma that storm gave me. Or yes… Dear Alan, I happened to stumble across one of your stars as I was wandering through the heavens. I see you have not given it a name, only a number. Would you be willing to change its’ name for a noble cause? I wish to give it as a present to my beloved wife Olivia. I hope we can come to an agreement from one gentleman to another. Sincerely, Finally, after three moths, I received his reply: My dear Colleague, Please forgive the tardiness, but work is consuming me. But of course, beginning today the star will be named Olivia. Your romantic gesture is, without doubt, very inspiring. I attach with this letter a PDF file, where you will find the certification of this change. Greetings

The night I gave a broken star to Olivia. December 2013

We walked together to the garden. We walked amid lightning bugs through an extraordinary evening. I kissed Olivia and placed her hand on my heart. I asked her if she could feel how it beat uncontrollably. She nodded and I told her it was because of the nervousness I felt about giving her a gift that hung by a thread in the firmament. I knew how excited Olivia would be about this romantic idea. Soon after we had first met she suggested it. She always commented on how romantic it would be to give someone a star. The years went by and purposely I left that dream buried so that one day I could surprise her. After an arduous digging to find what had been buried, the night had come and I had a star in the sky for Olivia. I want to give you a star. She looked at me and then looked up at the sky with enthusiasm and made a face, as though she was about to cry, overwhelmed. A star that carries your name... I never forgot what you told me… would you like to see it, just as it really is today? She agreed, astonished after I told her all I had gone through to build the telescope and the process of making it spiralled. I told her about the speed of light and how an image can be accelerated by centrifugal force inside the spiral. I almost broke the romanticism so I decided to be quiet. There it is! She looked through the lens. When she saw her star she cried, then she gave me a hug and we kissed. It is the most beautiful gift you could have given me. It is so, so lovely… We laughed. You could say that the stars had aligned themselves for us and we didn’t want this moment to end, ever. We could live like this eternally… She wanted to look at her star again. I got up to adjust the telescope. When I found it I saw Olivia (the star) explode and disappear completely, everything became black in a matter of seconds. I rubbed my eyes and I reset the exact coordinates of the star and looked again. She wasn’t there, only a huge and desolate blackness. I had a lump in my throat and tried to swallow, sadly I tried to

remember how many light years away was from us. I suddenly remembered she was only seven years and ten days away… Olivia, in seven years from now, we may vanish just like the star did… Her face changed radically. She stood up, her eyes were full of tears and she went walking through the garden, making her way through the lightening bugs.

The almond tree is in blossom Spring of 2016 I smell flowers… 9:46pm

Olivia in the sky has changed, even though she doesn’t exist since December of 2013. There she hangs, shinning and fooling everyone that looks at her. She emits white light and this evening she stands out on the horizon, with a scarlet tone and greenish glimmers on the vertices and she begins to look just as beautiful as the first rainy night I discovered her after the storm and rain in 2013. Those bright colours must be an omen of her imminent end… I don’t know! When I saw the star disappear I sent off a warning in an official communication. No one, absolutely no one paid any attention; everyone thought I was crazy and I lost all of my credibility. The truth is, I didn’t really care. My heart was breaking into pieces and Olivia had become so distant to me that I almost lost her. She has always been so close… but after the evening we saw the death of the star she spent months hundreds of light years away from me. There was a terrible reason for this. We could be in the same bed sleeping and not feel each other. We left the words that could judge us beneath out pillows to drown them with tears. How bitter it is to drown your sadness on a sheet! I tried to get close to her. I caressed her tenderly searching for understanding but she just pushed my hand away from her body. Ever time I tried to kiss her cheek she would move away. Olivia raised a shield and I was unable to understand it. Olivia, don’t do what the star I gave you did! If our love has stopped burning and died, don’t wait seven years to tell me so! This silence is going to do me in! What can I do if you won’t even speak to me, Olivia? How did I recover Olivia? I remembered the last happy night we spent together surrounded by lightening bugs, the night that her star burst and her eyes filled with fragments of it. I remembered our almond tree. She loved that tree. When it blossomed, I took her a number of branches and held them to her chest. With my eyes full of tears and hardly able to speak, I asked her, Olivia, what is the matter. It is as though you are disappearing, you are growing farther and farther away. Don’t do this. Let me be close to you again. At last I saw her smile. It was a very tender smile nevertheless, suffocated in sobs. It is the idea of dying and disappearing… she told me as she smelled the flowers, to be separated from you forever, to not be able to smell more Spring times… I nodded and caressed her cheek tenderly. I told her that it was only a theory but, that perhaps we didn’t die at all… that everything was still to come and we would always be there together. But she was talking about another kind of death, one that only affected Olivia and would take her briefly.

She said that the uncertainty was killing her, that I should never separate myself from her, that please, I had to be close to her forever… I embraced her. Oh, how I embraced her.

Popcorn is popping, summer of 2020 Fragments and pieces of Olivia

It is not easy to chew and digest the idea that you are going to die. I always have told Olivia that in the same way you chew and digest it, I would love to be able to defecate it and get it out of our lives. We have spent seven years and ten days in a race with death. At this moment, life is winning as Olivia has not surrendered. She is still here with me, as I am here with her. We wait with eagerness and fear on this last day. The best thing that could happen is that the effect of the explosion would sweep us in pieces throughout the universe. We have spent seven years and ten days waiting for our death. After loving each other with an unknown deepness, we have decided to wait for our end eating popcorn. We fell in love eating popcorn. Eating popcorn is what we want to do as we disappear. I could hear it popping as we prepared two lawn chairs in the garden. I had never imagined an ending like this but, looking at it coldly, it is a privilege to die with the person you love. I can smell the delicious popcorn Olivia is making, with a touch of butter and salt that only she can prepare. The smell chased away the idea about the moment when the explosion reached us. Will it hurt? Will it be fast? Then another terrible idea came to me. Perhaps nothing happened and I would have to spend the rest of my life without Olivia. It is two thirty in the morning. I could never have imagined such a peaceful ending. There was no panic or chaos. We looked at the sky. Sometimes we embraced, sometimes we sat alone. Olivia the star began to turn a vivid and brilliant colour and then went out, just like a light bulb. At the same time a soft rain of light beams began to fall. I took Olivia by the hand and we looked at each other. The moment had arrived. Her delicate features began to disappear little by little, as though she was a statue made of sand and the wind was taking her away. I want to tell her how much I have loved her and how much I love her and that I will always love her… all of this before we disappear. But I am not disappearing. Nothing has changed. The lightening bugs are still here in the garden, but Olivia is not… I have lost Olivia.

Thunder in the distance Heat lightening The summer of 2027

Oh how these fragments of Olivia hurt! It has been seven years since she disappeared. I still cannot understand it all. She vanished like smoke in front of my eyes. I can smell rain, although the smell no longer soaks into my bones, more like breaks them. I sit and watch the sun set every evening waiting to die, turn to dust, vanish and shake off this heavy load. Olivia, I miss you… it has been seven years and ten days since I lost you… the years just keeping going by and by… The purple sky shows me a timid and blinking light, a star that wants to be born, trying to make a space for itself in the vastness of the firmament. I could swear that there, in that exact spot should be the star that I gave you. This can’t be, this can’t be! I uncovered my telescope and introduced the coordinates where Olivia, in a distant past, had once shone in the evening sky. Nervousness overtook me. I was observing the birth of a star, something that had happened seven years and ten days ago. I aimed my telescope and saw the real image of what was happening in that corner of the sky, a beautiful star. Worthy of you. Who would have imagined, a star just kissed me. Olivia! I will wait seven years and ten days for your kiss.

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