3. The Universe Hates Vacuums

by thanklemons


Sudden movements create a void in their wake. I move my arm swiftly, displacing air, leaving a hole in the atmosphere for something else to fill. The movement of the world is like this: motion breeds emptiness, but stagnation provokes a fungus-like growth, mold that latches on to a patch of space and will not let go as time passes.

Rolling stones gather no moss,  my mother has always told me wisely.

She and I hiked the winding curves of a mountain town one summer. The faster we walked, the stiller the wind seemed. Air is thinner up high; your breath will catch as you try to draw it. When we stopped to look out over the valley, I climbed onto a wooden bench and stood looking over the haze of the towns built into the mountainside below — whole civilizations that looked like they might tumble down the slope at any moment.

I could feel something holding me to my place. Inertia. But staying here was pointless. Eventually I would roll down the hill with everything else on this slope. A vacuum would form in my wake, an empty space that needed to be filled.

We wandered further through dust-covered streets, searching out a familiar house on the hillside. The roads spiraled round and round, up and up, and we followed, obliging the path they laid out. I thought, The world is like this— a cycle of motion and voids, space displaced by action and filled in by whatever follows. When the town tumbles down the mountain, I thought, the water will flow up and fill in the space. The universe hates vacuums.