The Search for Life in Distant Galaxies
He installed a chalkboard on a wall in the entranceway to his apartment where a mirror had once hung. This would be useful for his work, he thought.
In the past, he drew pictures on the chalkboard of constellations that he could observe from his rooftop or images of newly discovered planets, or the dates of oncoming comets, or meteor showers, or mysterious looking galaxies that he copied from science magazines—or just dreamed of—ideas that he wanted to keep fresh in his imagination.
Over the past few months, something had happened, and these images of a fantastic cosmos had given way to seemingly ordinary drawings of floor plans of places where he had lived over the years; of places that should have been all too familiar but were now becoming more and more difficult to remember. It troubled him that there were gaps in his memory, places that were simply blank. He thought that if he tried to recreate these floor plans by drawing them on the blackboard then he would remember the missing parts that eluded him. But each plan he drew became covered with clouds of eraser dust and smudges where he had unsuccessfully tried and retried to visualize what had been there.
Some pattern, some strange logic must be at work, he thought, a reason for this emptiness, for his forgetfulness.
He tried to understand this space that seemed lost, blank, inaccessible—yet was still present like the blackness between the stars—this dark matter that now seemed to possess an uncanny hold on him and on everything around him.
But the floor plans were gone now too, had been erased along with the pictures of ancient galaxies.
He left the chalkboard hanging there – in all its beautiful singularity.
The chalkboard had become his daily reminder, a large To-Do list.
And every evening after he brushed his teeth, he erased the things that he had accomplished and wrote a new list of things to be done when he awoke.
That evening he wrote on the blackboard: 1) Get more boxes from the Packing Store… 2) Find a place to live…