Earth in True Perspective, it promised. It was just another meme I clicked while eating breakfast, another instance in the history of fingertips finding meaning among unknown stars—Sirius and Pollux, Arcturus and Betelguese, Eta Carinae and Nebula—and with each click, the scale image of Earth was reduced to a gemstone, then a pinprick, then just the word and an arrow pointing to nothing.

“I’m feeling overwhelmed,” I said when my wife walked into the kitchen, my eyes fixed on my computer screen. She had recently accepted a job in another state, and while each logistic of our impending move loomed large, the pressure of selling our house dwarfed them all. My stomach felt like a tetherball being pulled from the pole.

“Anyone else feel that way?” I asked my class later, frowning and patting my stomach. Several students raised their hands. I clicked through the meme on the projector screen and Earth vanished for them among a field of Technicolored trilobites like it did for me that morning.

“I just can’t comprehend the enormity of the universe,” I said, and “It makes me feel better,” one student responded, and “It’s about death,” added another. I nodded in agreement and clicked.

Everything is relative, the screen declared.


I took another bite of toast and clicked through the online auction—Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 2, Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World—the images of these well-known games vanishing as I clicked through image upon image of unknown games, from Abadox: The Deadly Inner War to Zanac.

For sale: every single game and system released from Nintendo between 1985-2000. $164,000.

“Instead of moving, let’s sell our house and buy this,” I said, turning my laptop toward my wife as she spooned cereal into her mouth, her eyes fixed on her own computer screen.

“Do any of you have a collector’s impulse?” I asked my class as I clicked through swathes of video games and systems, of controllers and arcade sticks and powergloves and powerpads in a kaleidoscopic montage of limited edition colors. Several hands went up.

I’m not looking to break this collection up, the screen proclaimed.

“That makes sense,” one student replied, and “Completeness is about control,” added another and I nodded, because possessing a beginning and an ending and all points in between is to comprehend finitude. It’s about death.


“You are not alone,” my wife said, pointing toward her screen as she carried her empty bowl to the sink.

Full Moon with a total Lunar Eclipse! This is an intense and highly emotional time that will trigger and push everything to the edge and beyond, her screen announced.

“Do you think celestial bodies affect how we feel?” I asked, clicking through the horoscope for my class. “My astrological forecast is always accurate,” one student declared, and “We’re all made of star stuff,” quipped another. I nodded, my stomach tethered to the moon.

In the aftermath of the eclipse, move yourself away from old patterns of security and comfort, the horoscope instructed and that night I did, clicking to a channel outside of my television watching routine. I saw our Milky Way Galaxy alone at first, then joined by a second identical Milky Way Galaxy, then four more and sixteen more and sixty-four more, the legion of Milky Ways receding into a paisley pattern as they crowded the screen.

“We are part of an infinite multiverse, where all possible histories and all possible futures are real and exist and are occurring simultaneously,” the narrator’s voice declared.

And in the infinite multiverse, every meme is meaningful and no meme is meaningful and I click and I do not click and I invented the Internet.

And in the infinite multiverse, I own every video game and video games never existed and I live in Wyoming and I ride a dinosaur.

And in the infinite multiverse, I write horoscopes and I am made of star stuff and I rearrange the firmament with my fingertips.

And in the infinite multiverse, this is about death and this is not about death and I am dead and I am the most alive I’ve ever been.

“At least we’ll sell our house in the infinite multiverse,” I said to my wife and didn’t say to my wife.

“Everything is relative,” she replied and didn’t reply as we stared at the screen and didn’t stare at the screen, my stomach feeling tethered and untethered ad infinitum.


Stephen J. West has published work in The Baltimore Review, Fugue, PANK, and Zone 3, among others, and he has been a featured artist by Ninth Letter for his artist’s book, DIY View-Master: Intimate Space. He is Writer-in-Residence at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, NY, where he lives.

Photo by Heather Kresge