Kaleidoscope

They were all alone. Their voices had died like echoes of the words of God spoken and vibrating in the starred deep. There went the captain to the Moon; there Stone with the meteor swarm; there Stimson; there Applegate toward Pluto; there Smith and Turner and all the rest, the shards of the kaleidoscope that had formed a thinking pattern for so long, hurled apart…

I’ll burn, he thought, and be scattered in ashes all over the continental lands. I’ll be put to use. Just a little bit, but ashes are ashes and they’ll add to the land.

He fell swiftly, like a bullet, like a pebble, like an iron weight, objective, objective of all the time now, not sad or happy or anything, but only wishing he could do a good thing now that everything was gone, a good thing just for himself to know about.

When I hit the atmosphere, I’ll burn like a meteor.

“I wonder,” he said, “if anyone’ll see me.”

 

The small boy on the country road looked up and screamed. “Look, Mom, look! A falling star!”

The blazing white star fell down the sky of dusk in Illinois.

“Make a wish,” said his mother. “Make a wish.”

 

-From “Kaleidoscope,” appearing in The Illustrated Man, 1951. Ray Bradbury. (August 22, 1920 – June 5, 2012)