I am a hydrogen atom. You know, one proton and all that.
How did I come to be? Well, there was this big bang, and before you know it, poof! There I was!
I am immortal, but I have no voice. I am officially a teenager today, it is my thirteenth birthday. Thirteen billionth that is, so as a gift, the Universe granted me storytelling privileges, just this once.
The cool thing about the vacuum of space is, the speed I was shot out, that’s the speed I kept. There is a lot of blackness out there, but so much beauty. Hydrogen atoms are kind of obsessed with each other, and as soon as I came in contact with another hydrogen atom, we were glued at the hip, so to speak. We traveled together for millennia, twirling and dancing, sometimes streaking along the edge of gravitational planets, bouncing off at the last minute, and continuing on our way.
We came upon a planet with a blue haze, and were instantly grabbed up by wonderful, affectionate oxygen atoms. What a party! All the hydrogen and oxygen atoms grabbing each other and dancing together. That was my first time as a water molecule. We became vapor, and lived in the troposphere of planet Earth for a while, until so many of us joined the party that we became a giant water drop and fell towards earth. We quickly evaporated, and like a roller coaster we zipped back and forth, falling, flying, falling again, until one day we turned white, and became a most glorious crystal, flitting and floating down, down, until we landed on a soft brown hand, and a little girl with a chilled nose put us on her tongue.
What a rush! Down the esophagus, stomach… we all got split up. I was absorbed into her blood stream and redistributed to her lungs, wet and pink. Lots of my oxygen friends were there, and some of them grabbed me and we flew out of her lungs, out her mouth and into the frosty air as a soft mist. I rested for a while with my friends as a pile of white snow. When the weather warmed, a lot of my friends waved goodbye and evaporated, but I was close to the brown earth, and a tree root absorbed me. It carried me up, up, through its sap, until I was sky high, and I became a part of a pine needle. I met many carbon atoms, and there were strings of atoms called esters that smelled fresh and sweet like a forest.
I was very happy. Everything was supple and green and fragrant, but after a few months, the tree was cut down. The esters still put out a pine scent for a long time, but my carbon friends started breaking apart, and the little green pine needle turned brown, and the oxygen drifted away until I was alone.
A big boot stepped on me, carrying me to a town with concrete sidewalks. I got stuck in a blob called bubble gum, and there I sat until a man with a shovel tossed me into a waste receptacle.
Lots of my aromatic ester friends were there! But they didn’t smell like pine trees, they smelled more pungent. I was grabbed by some oxygen and hydrogen party friends, and we ended up in a sweet apple core full of carbon buddies.
Eventually, a rat grabbed the apple core and ran us across the street to a warm house. A big man startled the rat, and the apple core was dropped on the lawn. The carbon atoms started breaking apart until the apple core became fertilizer for the lawn and I was evaporated along with my oxygen friends. Along came the man, just in time to breathe us in, but I never made it to the lungs. I got absorbed into his bottom lip, and he walked in the house and gave his wife a kiss. I know I am just an atom but I felt that kiss, and I felt like I was a part of something important. At first, I didn’t understand, but as I was transferred to the woman’s lip, and absorbed into her bloodstream, I was transported to a heart. But—not her heart. It was a second heart, growing in her womb. That is where I am now, on this, my thirteen billionth birthday. I have traveled the universe, but I have never felt such peace and love. If the Universe will grant me one more wish today, then I wish to stay here, and be a protector, a shield, a guardian. I, a hydrogen atom, am immortal. An atom cannot die. But there is something in a child’s heart that is immortal too. Perhaps it is the soul. I do not have the answer, I am just an atom. Perhaps on my fourteen billionth birthday, the Universe will let me know.