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Black Holes by Tom Levy

2021 Pushcart Prize Nominee


Mom. “So how was school today?”

Lily. “Instead of science class we had a lecture about space. Did you know there are stars bigger than the sun? And that when they die they can become black holes?”

Mom. “Not at all, actually. Will you tell me about it?”

Lily. “There are big suns, ones that make our sun look like a tiny button next to a… An elephant! And those big suns, when they die - and they do, mom, because all things must at one point or another - they collapse into themselves and create a black hole. It’s called like that because their gravity is so strong it attracts all the light, so it looks like a really dark hole.”

Mom. “Wow, that sounds scary!”

Lily. “No, that’s not scary at all, it just sounds like it. When you’re pulled into a black hole you feel like you’re stretched, like you’re turning into spaghetti, or like gum you pull as much as you can. It’s not nice, but you see around you all the stars in all the universes and you see all the people and aliens above and around them, and you realise you’re not actually alone. All this time you’re still stretched very hard, but after that it stops. After, you’re suddenly somewhere you know you should recognise, but you don’t, because you were never there. And all your memories of before start to feel weird, but you still know generally who you are, and then you meet new people at this new place and keep on living there. It’s not scary, mom. It’s even fun.”


Mom, hesitantly. “How do you know all these things, Lily?”

Lily. “I just do. Do you know those things that you just know?”

Mom. “Well, yes, but…”

Lily. “Don’t worry, mom, even if I could come back I wouldn’t have wanted to. I’m nine, not eighty. There are many things I have to learn about this place before I can even think about going back. We’re only at the beginning.”

Published in Issue 4

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