Our planet has but one sky. When we look up at night, barely removed from the safety of our homes, we see more stars than there are houses in our village. The stars form shapes – supposedly, seven stars in particular represent an ancient hunter. The main square is designed with this legend in mind. Funnily enough, no one has ever cared to call it anything else than ‘The Square’; no one knows what the hunter’s name was. Our whole village is laid out like that, shaped like things we are familiar and comfortable with. The way houses seemingly slither up the hill where the mayor has their residence, I wonder what the astronomers opposite the sky would call it. We just call it ‘serpentous’.
Our houses are all shaped differently. The shape of my house is familiar and comfortable to me. It’s a place I enjoy to return to. It doesn’t have a roof, nor does anyone else’s. We are all astronomers here, you see. Everyone is an astronomer – how can you not be when the sky is above you and beautiful? We think of our favourite shape, then go to sleep. While we sleep, we dream of our favourite shape. Those in the village who find their perfect shape, become that shape. These are what we call houses. My house is shaped like love.
The sky is filled with one planet by day. We share the same sky with the astronomers living there, but they are a bigger part of our sky than we are of theirs. What they do up there, we can all see from here. When they leave the house, which all have roofs, they don’t rush to the top of the hill like we do. For astronomers, they don’t seem to be interested in looking at the sky much! They wear strange headgear and walk in chaotic streaks. They don’t say hello and tell one another what their favourite shape is when they pass each other on the street – streets that are all shapeless. Nothing they do has a shape, nothing they do has any real meaning.
During the day, we go to the mayor’s residence on top of the hill and use their many telescopes to look at the sky. We’re supposed to look at the stars to find new shapes to dream of, but I often look at the shapeless astronomers. I peer at their covered heads and nauseating movements. How unpatternedly they walk. Fooling me into thinking they can move in a straight line before twisting and churning their blotty bodies to avoid colliding with another. I imagine their speech is burbled and terrifying.
They speak in seventy-five different tones per minute and cannot think about anything but repulsion. Their astronomy is slamming a pencil onto paper and scratching crude approximations of circles into their own skin. They are shapeless in every sense of the word. The mayor tells me nothing good can ever come of them. The mayor is right. They visited us once.
I was young when the astronomers opposite the sky came to us. They came in something we had never seen before. No shape we knew compared to it; it was vulgar and nauseating. Some of them emerged from that migrainous stain and started doing things to the village. Those actions in particular truly had no shape to them. People simply fell over.
The other astronomers turned them into something none of us had ever been before: shapeless. My mother held me close as one of them walked up to us. The way she held me, it reminded me of my favourite shape – love – so I went to sleep. When I woke up, the astronomers and their formless vessel had disappeared. I also had a house to call my own.