Nothing special ever happened to Alina. She was born to two good, stolid parents who dressed in dark browns and grays and spoke under the volume of the radio that played instrumental music, not songs with words.
Alina tried to make her life stand out more. She put silver nickels in her loafers instead of copper pennies. She cut her peanut butter and marshmallow fluff sandwiches into hexagons, and drew scaly snake designs all over the spines of her brown grocery-bag book covers. She wanted, so wanted, to have something big happen to her, so her life would fill up more space. Her world felt claustrophobic—she slipped through the atoms of daily existence, hardly brushing against anything of lasting impact.
Her parents received comfort from routine, and every weekend flowed along in the same way. Saturday was for errands and chores. Alina was given the choice to either help her father trim the boxwood and forsythia bushes, which never stayed in their proper shape, or to help her mother shop at A&P and dust the furniture at home. When Alina shaped the boxwood, she tried to cut the edges less square, and when she dusted with an old tube sock, she rearranged the German figurines. But then her father resquared the greenery and her mother returned the bisque tableaus to their permanent, posed positions.
Sunday, Alina climbed into the back of the Volkswagen Bug and watched the world pass by as her parents drove her to church.
Then on this one Sunday, during a morning summer storm, simultaneously with a bright flash, something crashed through the windshield, showering glass on her parents. In an instant, it ended its journey beside her. Something worth talking about. A hot rock the size of a fist, melting the vinyl and giving off a sulfuric smell.
Alina wouldn’t let anyone take the meteorite away, and she refused to leave the car. At the church, her science teacher told her that every day, tons of space matter rains down on Earth, but as tiny particles of dust. But not today, Alina replied with assurance. For on this day, landing next to her in the backseat like a molten miracle, was proof to everyone in the churchyard, who peered into the window with awe, that the universe had finally acknowledged Alina.
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