There were two skies that night, and both were filled with stars. The one above—static and reassuring—and the one below—a fluid and uncertain reflection, destroying itself and reforming as it crashed against the Corinthian cliffs.
“I couldn’t save her,” the weary man said.
“I know,” said the woman in the flowing robes. Her tattered garments danced in the wind, giving her an appearance as ever-changing as that of the sky below. “But you can do nothing about that now.”
“I need answers, Pythia!” the chiseled and bearded man demanded. “I must know why.”
“You are not asking the correct questions, hero.”
“I don’t care. I have to know. Why would the gods give me all of my strength—surpassing that of any other man!—and make it still not enough?”
“I am but a guide for the way forward. I am not an interpreter of history.”
The man sat silent. As he looked up, a comet flew passed a galaxy. In the sky above, its tail was a clean and confident arc. Below, an aimless line tossed at the whims of black waves.
“I’ve been told that I will be among the stars someday. Is that true?”
“It could be,” said the servant of Apollo.
His eyes fell slowly below the horizon, and the bearded man examined the ambiguity of the sky below as he ran his fingers—thick and calloused with violence—through his curly black hair.
“I killed her,” he said quietly after a long while.
“I know,” she whispered.
“I don’t know how or why. But I did.”
Tears began to run down his cheeks in torrents that glittered with the images of stars.
“I couldn’t control it. I don’t remember all of it, but I do remember not being in control. I know it happened. I know it was me. But somehow…”
He wiped the back of his hand across his face and looked up at the woman in the flowing robe.
“Somehow I know it wasn’t my fault.”
The man looked at the sky above. Photons bounce off his retina that came from a star that had died before the world was born.
The man looked at the sky below. He felt the cool salty mist against his cheeks as a nebula exploded into a billion droplets against the cliff.
“It’s your choice,” said the woman. “You may remember.” She motioned to the sky above. “Or you may find what lies ahead.” She motioned to the sky below.
He stood and removed his clothes.
He breathed in.
He breathed out.
He dove off the cliff.