Imagine something of substantial mass—I mean, such a huge mass of such great incomprehensible density—this unthinkably, unbelievably dense and substantial mass of a size we can't even think of it and how it draws everything in with all its gravity, so much gravity like a waterfall, like you're floating along down the river and you hear the rush of the water and there ahead of you the river starts going, starts really moving, starts getting sucked over the side, over a cliff, and you have no choice but to float over into the swirling miasma of the water below except here, here in this black hole, there isn't water but rather this mass, this sickly but strong force of mass, the gravity of which sucks in and crushes everything too curious not to explore its vicinity, its twisting, swirling mass that defies all of what we think we know of physics—that time gets turned on its head, past becomes future and future past, that even light cannot escape, it's so gravitationally dense in there, that even light is collapsed and sound is unmade, words unspoken into this dense mass of light-crushing dark—except in the news today there was a story that maybe black holes aren't all what we think, that maybe not all gets crushed; that there's some evidence, some proof—proved I don't know how; I guess by observation and mathematics (because in what other way does anything ever get proven—by feeling or sense or intuition or wanting, which all tend to fail from time to time, each in its own ways, in the past?)—of cells surviving the suck and collapse, of making it through—which suggests a passage of some sort, through to another world or universe or time or dimension, something we can't now apprehend, something we may never know without trying it ourselves, without passing ourselves into this density and through with a hope (or is it faith?) based in anything other than, what, mathematics and observation maybe?—which is all to say I woke early this morning in the bedroom of our house next to the railroad tracks and I heard the train idling for hours outside our window—which you'd opened in the night, I guess, because the inside air wouldn't move, just collapsed there on top of us, and I woke later with the horn and the brakes' screel—and I went downstairs planning, I don't know, to yell to the conductor maybe or to turn on the television or open the Internet to see what was the matter but I only made it as far as the porch and I bent down to grab the morning paper—as tightly rolled as every other day, bound by one of those red rubber bands we've started to collect—and I held it between my hands, held tight to this rolled-up paper that seemed pristine in its own quaint and unread way, this paper that hadn't yet reported on the man who, in the middle of the night while we slept, climbed the dirt embankment next to our house, stepped onto the trestle that crosses the creek and cuts into our backyard woods, and laid down on the tracks to wait for the 5:45 to Chicago.
Matthew Fogarty is the author of Maybe Mermaids and Robots are Lonely, forthcoming from George Mason University’s Stillhouse Press (2016). He has an MFA from the University of South Carolina, where he was editor of Yemassee, and he is Co-Publisher at Jellyfish Highway Press. His fiction has appeared in such journals as Passages North, Fourteen Hills, PANK, Smokelong Quarterly, and Midwestern Gothic. He can be found online at www.matthewfogarty.com and on Twitter at @thatmattfogarty.