The glow lasted through the night, beyond the bar's closing, when there were no cabs on the street. And so Mathilde and Lotto decided to walk home, her arm in his, chatting about nothing, about everything, the unpleasant, hot breath of the subway belching up from the grates. 'Chthonic', he said, booze letting loose the pretension at his core, which she still found sweet, an allowance from the glory. It was so late, there were few other people out and it felt, just for this moment, that they had the city to themselves.She thought of all the life just underfoot, the teem of it that they were passing over, unknowing. She said, 'Did you know that the total weight of all the ants on Earth is the same as the total weight of all the humans on Earth.' She, who drank to excess, was a little bit drunk, it was true, there was so much relief in the evening.When the curtains closed against the backdrop, an enormous bolder blocking their future had rolled away.'They'll still be here when we're gone,' he said. He was drinking from a flask. By the time they were home, he'd be sozzeled. 'The ants and the jellyfish and the cockroaches, they will be the kings of the Earth.'...'They deserve this place more than we do,' she said. 'We've been reckless with our gifts.' He smiled and looked up. There were no stars, there was too much smog for them.'Did you know,' he said, 'they just found out just a while ago that there are billions of worlds that can support life in our galaxy alone.'...She felt a sting behind here eyes, but couldn't say why this thought touched her.He saw clear through and understood. He knew her. The things he didn't know about her would sink an ocean liner. He knew her.'We're lonely down here,' he said, 'it's true, but we're not alone.'In the hazy space after he died, when she lived in a sort of timeless underground grief, she saw on the internet a video about what would happen to our galaxy in billions of years. We are in an immensely slow tango with the Andromeda galaxy, both galaxies shaped like spirals with outstretched arms and we are moving toward each other like spinning bodies. The galaxies will gain speed as they draw near, casting off blue sparks, new stars until they spin past each other and then the long arms of both galaxies will reach longingly out and grasp hands at the last moment and they will come spinning back in the opposite direction, their legs entwined, never hitting, until the second swirl becomes a clutch, a dip, a kiss and then at the very center of things, when they are at their closest, there will open a supermassive black hole.
Lauren Groff