She pushed her things into a bag and slammed out of the door. I ran after her down the path leading to the jetty and grabbed her arm.
‘You can’t go like this.’
‘Let go of my arm,’ she said and she looked out to sea where the boat was approaching.
Two months ago we arrived on Flanna, as excited as children. At last, our dream of life together began. I gave up my job in London and she came from New Zealand to be with me. The island seemed perfect: remote, beautiful and just the place for us to work. Jo was a writer and I was an observer for the Astrophysics Society, plotting the movement of the planets.
The boat called every two months and neither of us looked for company. We had each other – and the stars.
Yes, the stars. People tell of the brightness of starlight seen from the Atlas Mountains, but they cannot imagine the commanding sight of the Borealis as it swoops and dances over Flanna. Your skin tingles, your eyes are filled with light. Every nerve is on fire and your breath is stifled.
When we first arrived, I tried to show Jo how strong the attraction was.
She laughed and said, ‘You’re becoming hypnotised. It’s only the Northern Lights.’
It was an absurd remark. Surely, anyone can appreciate the power of the starlight?
Two weeks later, I stayed out all night to record the movements. She complained.
‘You can set up the cameras to record, you don’t have to be there.’
I didn’t reply. How was I to tell her that the starlight radiated its power on me, demanding I should be there? When I returned at dawn, my skin purple with the freezing night air, I noticed her expression of disdain. I went silently to bed, alone.
She spoke to me the next day.
‘James, let’s try to do something together. Can you look at my script and tell me what you think?’
I smiled to humour her and pretended to scan her writing. It was hopeless. The words meant nothing to me, just scribbles on the page. I made some anodyne comment to appease her but I saw the disappointment in her eyes.
I wanted to grip her and shout, ‘Jo, the stars are the energy of the universe, can’t you see? We must absorb their power to survive!’
But I felt her psyche resisting me. I said nothing.
The Society began to be troublesome; they demanded regular reports. I logged the movements of various nebulae but they wanted more. They had no understanding of real cosmic influence; they only recorded data not the power of the universe.
I stopped sending in reports. What was the point? The real work had to be harnessing the energy of the Borealis to increase one’s own significance.
I found a way to do this. Each night, leaving the croft, I stood on the highest point on the island. Above me the whole of the northern sky poured its radiance down on me. The core of my being absorbed the mighty power of the stars. I shouted and screamed with delight. At last I had true union with the universe.
I begged Jo to come out and feel the transfiguration on the mountaintop. She shook her head and kept to the house as if it was some shell or carapace to protect her. I left her to it.
Now, the weeks pass and I find my life becoming focussed. I need more time to intensify the energy. You need to concentrate and trivial matters like food and sleep, drop away. She never understood this; I tried to explain but she looked away and spent her time writing in her stupid journal.
Then the next boat was due. I watched on the mountain as usual during the night, while she lay wrapped in a blanket indoors. At one point, she came out into the night air and called to me. I heard her voice but the radiance of the stars possessed my spirit once again. I shouted for her to join me in the ecstasy of true light but she never came.
The next day, she left. I tried to talk to her but it was useless.
I miss her presence here on the island. It is lonely during the day. I am fading slowly into the atmosphere, like a jet of flame burning lower each day. Soon I will be a spirit at one with the stars. I am waiting, I am ready.