It’s too cold to walk home but the taxis all seem to have their lights off. Carly snuggles into me, her beanied head nudging into the crook of my shoulder, and we stand on the edge of the pavement unsure of what to do. No buses are running and we have no one to call for a lift.
‘I want go home,’ Carly says.
I nod my head. We huddle off to the side of the theatre entrance, sheltered from the worst of the wind and out of the way of the patrons filing out. The night sky above the Stratford streets is a clear, HD image.
I consider the Moon drifting away from the Earth at the same rate as fingernails grow. One day, far from now, it simply slips off into space. At the end of its life, in about 5 billion years, the Sun will fuse helium into heavier elements and swell up, ultimately growing so large that it will swallow the Earth. It will spend a billion years as a red giant before collapsing into a white dwarf. The cooling off period will be something like a trillion years. To avoid confusion between the short and long scale, that’s a one with twelve zeros tagging along behind. Ten to the power of twelve.
‘You look tired,’ Carly says, looking up at me from her headrest at my shoulder.
Her eyes glitter slightly with the reflected light of the street lamps and I want to kiss her.
Instead I say, ‘I was born at the wrong time.’
Her brow is furrowed, but I can’t tell if irritation or concern sits behind the expression. I take her hand. She lets me keep it. I tell her about the moon. She squeezes my hand.
‘Is that true? About the Moon?’
I decide not to mention the sun.
‘Why the wrong time?’ she asks.
‘I miss the era of free love by a decade or so and exit puberty just as AIDS shows its face.’
‘Our parents unleash massive amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere and we get hit with the job of decreasing emissions.’
She stops laughing and with a delicate hand points my face at hers.
‘You worry too much,’ she says and kisses my lips.
‘You don’t worry enough,’ I say and she kisses me again.
I reach for my phone. Dial a cab firm.
‘There’s one on the way,’ I say.
With any luck, in half an hour or so, we’ll be home. Carly will pay the sitter and together we’ll check on the kids. We’ll watch them sleep and smile and feel better about pretty much everything. We won’t think about the millions of things that might go wrong. Instead we’ll go to bed, possibly make love and fall asleep exhausted. With any luck.