When Life was just a child, she tugged on Death’s sleeve and asked, “Brother, why is the sky so dim?”
Death turned his gaze towards the universe and looked into the dark abyss. Devoid of breath and being, it was filled with naught save for a faint light far in the distance. He turned to his young sister, still millions of years younger than he, and replied, “Sit down, and let me tell you the story of our creators.”
Always eager and curious for knowledge, Life rushed to sit beside her brother. She buzzed with energy and excitement while Death, ever solemn, recounted the tale of the universe with a stern air.
In the early years, there lived three beings: Light, Darkness, and Eternity. They were fierce companions with good wills between them. They traversed across the universe creating and planning with no reserve. Light would shape planets and galaxies with colors so vibrant that all three would stop for periods of their journey to admire the spectrum. But Light was so radiant that without the aid of Darkness, such colors were indiscernible in her bright glow. As for Eternity, he sustained the beings that Light birthed. So astounded by her creations, he made sure they flourished without end and for a while, the universe brimmed with vibrance. In their wake, the three left behind solar systems, asteroid belts, galaxies, and even black holes.
One day, while Light and Eternity walked ahead, Darkness looked upon Light and came to a realization. He found that he no longer followed behind her just to enjoy the view of her colors, but to experience the infinite joy he wrought by simply being in her proximity. So magnificent and so necessary was she to him that Darkness soon fell in love. Now, Darkness was no fool. He knew that in order for Light to thrive, he had to give parts of himself each time. But he did so without cease, and without fail.
Light, too, took pleasure in Darkness. In moments reserved for rest, they danced between the galaxies she created and chased each other around the planets. They played without end. She marveled at his power, both equal and opposite to hers and knew in the core of her being that they were two parts of a whole. So easy and natural was their friendship that their bond gradually blossomed into a mutual love. So dedicated was she to him, that Light gave Darkness a piece of herself which he planted into the very center of his being. And not long after, from their love came their first child. Death.
Eternity was delighted by this change at first. He was thrilled his two friends had found happiness and now had a family. But as young lovers are wont to do, Light and Darkness often abandoned Eternity and focused most of their attentions on their offspring and on one another. They began creating without Eternity, and his joy turned to ire– their exclusions turning him bitter. Angered by Darkness and Light’s desertion, he grew an envious heart. No longer in bright spirits, he walked away from the family and encased himself in an empty corner of the universe. Darkness took notice of Eternity’s grim mood and spoke to Light.
‘There is hatred brewing in our friend and I worry that he will not overcome it.’
To this, Light replied, “Perhaps he is lonely and wishes for a family of his own.’
Darkness thought for a moment, then answered, ‘Then let us find him someone to cure his sorrow.’
Thus, began their millennia long search. Eventually, Light and Darkness met Time.
They introduced her to Eternity and were overjoyed to see that the pair were settling into an strong companionship. For a while, all was well. Time and Eternity shared an intense affair. She gave meaning to Eternity and he gave Time stability and permanence. But Time was a fickle lover and grew bored with Eternity. He, too, became tired of her impatience and constantly changing nature. Unsatisfied with forever and unwilling to share a family, Time left Eternity and he spiraled into another fit of anger and bitterness.
Unaware of this sudden occurance, Light and Darkness paid a visit to their old friend to inform him of their second child. A child whom they named Life. Eternity, already in a untempered state of hatred, lashed out at the two and forced them away.
Feeling the stings of rejection and betrayal, Eternity thought to himself, ‘Why should they have love and not I? What gives Light and Darkness the right to a family, to happiness, while I have naught but this empty corner of the universe?’
Hatred consumed him and he turned his hands towards Light’s creations and took away his gift. No longer wishing to sustain them, he watched them crumble one piece at a time. Stars burned out, planets collided into one another, and inch by inch, the universe rapidly wound itself into chaos.
Distraught by the end of her creations, Life confronted Eternity. When she saw that her pleading for compassion was in vain, she assailed him with all her strength. Angered by her audacity and still awash with pain, he fought back even harder. They fought with all the strength in their beings until Light grew so tired that Eternity, in a fit of impulsivity, consumed her and soon she was no more. Beside himself with regret and melancholy, Eternity fled and hid himself in a place no one would find him.
As for Darkness, forlorn and overcome with a terrible grief, he settled into a great depression that no other being could rouse him from. No longer able to care for himself nor his children, he fell into a deep sleep he wished to stay forever in.
Life stared at her brother, enraptured. “Where is Eternity now, brother?” She asked.
“Alas, that is a question I have no answer to,” Death said.
“What about the beings that Eternity did not destroy?”
“With absence of Light, the few civilizations in the remaining planets have frozen and stopped. The universe is at a stand still and Darkness consumes all.”
She sat up straighter. “So they are still present?”
“Yes, but they are frozen. Useless and enshrouded by Darkness. Even I cannot see them.”
Life’s brows furrowed. “Why is that when there is light far out into the distance?” She pointed to the tiny speck up ahead of them. “Is that not Light herself?”
Her brother sighed. “No, my young one. That is merely a tiny piece of Light that Darkness keeps within himself. A part of herself that was freely given. It is too meager to be useful. It would hardly warm the palm of your hand.”
Life jumped up, restless and unbounded by the pessimism that shadowed Death. “How can you be so sure? Yes, it is just a speck, but so much is started by a simple spark.”
Death sighed. “You are still too naive and your hope is a character of your youth.” He kissed the tip of Life’s nose and smiled down at her. “I am both gladdened and saddened by it. But enough of this. We can resume your infinite queries another time.”
But Life could not stop thinking about Light, Darkness, and Eternity. Hours after Death left her, she laid down staring at the faint light and pondering the lost lives frozen by Eternity.
Unwilling to stay still and give up, she gathered her bravery and traversed across the universe. She traveled high and low, not stopping until she stood before the only light that glistened within the darkness.
Up close, it was even smaller than she imagined, barely the size of a fist. But it was bright and when she touched it she felt a part of her come alive.
Enraptured by the tiny ball, she grasped it in her hand, turning it this way and that. Life thought deeply about the ways she could use such a modest specimen to enliven the beings of the universe, but nothing she came up with seemed adequate enough.
“Maybe Death was right,” she sighed. “How can I bring breath and vibrancy with something so infinitesimal?”
As if he has been awaiting her, Darkness awoke from his slumber and answered his child, “What is it you have come here for, Life?”
She answered without hesitation, “I wish to give back what was taken. To renew the hands of Light.”
“And do you know the cost of such a deed? You will be responsible for all creation– for all their growth, their failures, successes, and actions.”
“If that is all it takes, I am willing.”
Darkness scoffed at her audacity, but reveled in her likeness to Light. “You are willing to leave the comfortable dwelling and live in places you’ve never been? You are young. There is much in this universe that will terrify you.”
“If there is fear, then there is something worth achieving.”
Seeing that she was undaunted, Darkness then asked her, “What of your beloved brother? He will be out here in vast expanse of space while you will be confined by the planets, the moons, various asteroids and their civilizations. You will not see him again.”
At this, Life paused. To give up the only being she knew and loved was like losing an integral part of herself. Was she willing to give up her teacher, her friend, her sole family? Death would grieve surely, if she said yes. But if she refused all that Light created would never again flourish.
Growing impatient by her silence, Darkness answered for her. “It is evident that your answer is no. You are not willing to give Death up. Thus, I am unwilling to give you the sole light in this universe.” Though his tone was deep and sure, disappointment was hidden beneath its depths.
Life, discouraged by Darkness’s refusal, bowed her head in sorrow.
“Ah. There is an answer you have not yet introduced to her, Darkness.” The voice came from behind her and Time revealed herself.
Darkness averted his gaze to her and replied, “What might that be, old friend?”
“There is one thing I am willing to offer Life and that is myself. In this universe, Eternity is nowhere to be found. But should there be a limit to the life she creates, there must be a collector for when they reach their end.”
Darkness then asked, “What will be gained from taking away Eternity?”
Time answered without pause. “Meaning.”
Life turned to Time and said, “What does this mean of Death?”
“It means that just as you sow, I will reap,” came her brother’s reply. Knowing that she would be unable to deny her curiosity and would pursue the path of the light, Death had followed close behind Life on her journey. “If this is the path you have chosen for yourself, then I too will choose one for my own.”
Darkness smiled in the abyss and asked of Life, “Though your brother will be confined to the planets, moons, and all where civilization lies as well, know that you still will not be together. Where there is life, there cannot be death. I shall ask you once more. Are you willing to sacrifice for a world you do not know?”
Life gazed upon Death, who nodded slowly. Though his countenance was solem, his eyes reassured her. She turned to Darkness and said, “Yes.”
“Then take the light, my child and warm it within yourself. From your essence you hold all that is essential to this universe.
So Life did.
And from her grew a radiance so bright than even Darkness happily gave himself to bathe in its warmth. From her breath, all that once was frozen thawed and gave way to movement. Plants resurrected from the earth, amphibians then mammals began their evolutions. Humans took their shape and the various wonders of Life gave the universe a reason to dance once more.
She would breath life into her creations and together with Time, they would watch as her beings lived then passed on into the hands of her brother.
Though she never saw Death again, she knew he was there. For each time she gifted her creations to him, he would weave their energies into stars so radiant that the entire world would look up in awe. And in the darkness, she would sit around life and gaze up into the universe knowing the stars were made especially for her.