The projector’s clicking eyes hold the only dust he’s not to touch. Powdered soap clouds the water bucket like the Milky Way the sky as he mops the aisles. Ten years have taught him which levers to pull to starlight vacuum, lemon wax to the throb of pulsars. Occasionally he naps, trusting the Big Bang to be his alarm. Once he awoke too early sensing something wrong—galaxies blinking off, on like the end of the world he’d face if the projector were broken. His sighed relief (and the swat of a newspaper) echoed throughout the universe when he discovered the flittering moths. One night, high on a ladder, dry-mopping ceiling cobwebs (supernovas, white dwarfs at his elbows) and listening to how his body’s atoms were born in stars, he closes his eyes, imagines the auditorium packed, the speckles that bathe him claiming what’s theirs. His bones begin to glow through his clothes, veins set skin afire till children cry out, old men gasp and he finally explodes awhirl—the constellation he always was before.
This is a reprint of work originally published in Spoon River Quarterly.
David Henson and his wife have lived in Belgium and Hong Kong over the years and now reside in Peoria, Illinois. His work has been nominated for Best Small Fictions and Best of the Net, and has appeared in numerous print and online journals, including Eunoia Review, Pithead Chapel, MoonPark Review, and Fictive Dream. His website is https://writings217.wordpress.com. His Twitter is @annalou8.