I narrowed my eyes, not sure what to think about him. I could see his badge, the only mark he wore that hinted at his employer, and I knew he could fine me and test me and arrest me and whatever else the laws said, and that I should have been trying to think of excuses and defenses, figuring out the patrolman's soft-spot and how to take advantage of it, but my infuriation was being pulled away, and my thoughts abandoned as foolishness. I did want to look at the sky again, I realized, and so I did, and of my own free will. The light was several times stronger than the brightest stars. The clouds shifted again, and it seemed ridiculous to me that something so small and local should block something so huge and universal.
"It's been there since last night. Cosmologists think it's the largest event ever witnessed in this galaxy: a nova so large that it affected its entire region of space, its light strong enough to cut through the vacuum and be seen at a distance greater than anything we've known. And by the naked eye, at that."
"That's amazing," I said, as if the one standing next to me were a lifelong friend. "It makes you think about how we're all made of stardust, you know?"
"Does that thought impress you?"
It took a moment for the question to catch up to me. My sight fell again to the Earth. "Of course it impresses me. Long after I'm dead and cremated, the stars'll keep shining. That's impressive, isn't it?"
The man looked off as if thinking about a puzzle. "It certainly sounds impressive, but there's a limit built into the statement. It's like..." he bent down and picked up a handful of sand, "it's like saying: 'Wow, I can hold grains of sand that look just like all the other grains of sand on the beach.' Does that sound like a life-changer to you, Brandon Dauphin?"