I knew a girl who listened to space punk.
“What’s that?” I asked her every Monday. She always had a different response. Terry bet that she kept a list of random definitions in that thick notebook I mentioned she had tucked under her arm all the time. “She just wants to mess with you,” Terry assured me. Its cover had a picture of the galaxy taped onto it. She told me it was to remind us that space was always there, whether we could see it or not. Her name was Comet.
“It’s on my birth certificate,” she claimed. I believed her.
Terry asked me why I always talked to Comet. I told him because she reminded me of the stars. He furrowed his eyebrows and shook his head, but his response left me unaffected. He wouldn’t understand; he never met her, anyways. As I laid awake almost every night, thinking of Comet and the galaxy and Terry’s disapproval, I watched the stars and hoped they’d take me to a cloud. Maybe I could sleep there. Melatonin sure never helped.
The next Monday I asked her about space punk again, expecting a different answer. “You can’t hear it?” she questioned. “It’s everywhere.” My heart skipped two beats; she gave me that answer the first day we met on the city bus. She was bobbing her head to the music, each beat hypnotizing her soul and connecting her to the shining solitude of the moon.
“You told me that before,” I remarked.
Comet grinned. “I did.”
Terry was positive she was an escapee from a mental institution, but I wasn’t sure about that speculation. Her mind was Harvard-bound. She spoke of philosophy and abstract mathematics like it was child’s blabber. She told me about the origin of the stars and the moon and the sun with such simplicity a toddler could understand. The Earth is our mother; we get our emotions and human nature from her. “And if they could, Earth and Neptune would become one,” she taught me on our way back home from school. “Nothing is more alluring than something we can only see from a distance.”
One night, on a Tuesday this time, Comet stared at me with a beam on her face. It was as if the moon possessed her lips, its radiance pushing through to challenge the light of the sun. Her straight brown hair was doing gymnastics on her head. Each strand was in a different pose, creating a massive mess above her wrinkled forehead. She was elegantly insane.
“I’m going to the concert,” she announced.
She had never mentioned one to me before. “What concert?”
“Space punk.” She buried her face in her hands, the soft squeals emitting from her mouth and giving me chills.
“I thought space punk is everywhere.”
“Everywhere originates from somewhere. Can you come?”
I reminded her that I don’t sleep. She told me to meet her the next day at midnight near the school. The first minute of Thursday. According to her, I’d meet Saturn and Mars. I wondered what they looked like the rest of the day.
Comet didn’t come to school that Wednesday. She was preparing for the concert, I assumed. I went out and bought myself a galaxy shirt and black shorts the color of the darkest night. That evening, my fingers quivered as I made my way to the school. I was wide awake, about to hear space punk in ten minutes. If only Terry was invited.
Comet sat on the concrete ground ten feet in front of me. She looked so alone as she hummed along to the music. As I approached, she turned her head and acknowledged my presence.
“You’re here,” said Comet. “It’s time. Close your eyes.”
My eyes shut, revealing the pitch black underneath my eyelids. I heard Comet’s soothing voice whispering in my ear. “Feel the coolness of the stars and the heat of the moon. Get to know them and listen to the beat.” I did.
What I heard, in the thickness of my euphoric apprehension, was a sensational array of celestial rhythms and heavenly lyrics. The words were in a tongue only ones connected to the night could understand. Each beat — the ticks and the dits and the zooms — was followed by a different reverberation: meteors crashing, the destruction of supernovas, the loving words of the planets. Melodies striked my eardrums from every direction. Space was everywhere.
“I hear it. Space punk is beautiful,” I told her. There was no response. Comet had disappeared and so did the music. I didn’t realize until I opened my eyes.
Comet never came back to school. Terry guessed she was brought back to the asylum, but I know she was brought back to the stars, her mission of gifting me with the galaxy that cursed me of wakefulness fulfilled. Now when I close my eyes, the cosmic experience vibrates through my body and sends my mind to the skies. Space punk is my method of slumber. And when I lift my eyelids and the harmonies escape me, I admire the neverending galaxy. There, I can see Comet dancing in the sky, entranced by the infectious rhythms. It’s so alluring to watch from afar.
Worlanyo is a seventeen-year-old cinephile from New Jersey. You can find her absorbed in a classical movie, writing stories on her laptop, or gazing into the night sky long past midnight. She has been published on Voices of Youth.