Chapter 1: The Wild, Cosmic Beginning of All Beginnings 1. The Wild, Cosmic Beginning of All Beginnings
EVERYTHING HAS A beginning. And I’m not just talking about things like the shop I ordered my moonstone necklace from, or where it was made, or where the stone itself was quarried. Though that is lovely to think about, isn’t it? Perhaps it’s from some deep, wild cave pebbled with lakelike stones of moons.… But no, that’s not what I mean.
I’m not even talking about me, or my twin sister, or yuck, the birds and the bees. What I am talking about is everything. I mean, everything in this whole wide, wild universe has one beginning. One place where everything, all of matter, converged into a speck one trillionth the size of a period. Let me repeat that, because I can scarcely fathom it myself.
Everything that exists in all the billions of galaxies, including Earth, with our salty, whale-skimmed seas and herds of elephants strewn on the horizon like gray beads and piles of electronic junk gathering here and there since, what, the eighties? And blue-trimmed plates of arroz con pollo and the nearly fuchsia slices of smoked salmon over a bagel and all the smooth and metallic skyscrapers and the billions of microscopic organisms in a teaspoon of dirt, everything—every last atom and electron and scoop of strawberry cheesecake ice cream—was once a fraction of a fraction of a period. I don’t know how scientists have figured something like that out with any certainty, but they have. I mean, if I’d kept reading Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, I might know, but I couldn’t, not after that sentence. I had to put the book away, and then next thing you know, my library loan was up, and I can’t bring myself to touch it again. It’s so overwhelming.
I mean, a period! A period! Probably font size ten, too, or something. Can you imagine how heavy that thing was? How, if you’d picked it up, it would’ve cut a hole right through you? Your mom might have been like, “Oh, Moon, what have you done now?” You know, if she’d cared. And you’d say, “Oh, yeah, just tried to see if I could lift this speck of All-That-Is. I’ll be okay.” You know, as if she’d care.
Sometimes I think, what if I could go back to the beginning? What would I do? I could try to touch it, that molten-hot little speck, just to say I’d tried. Or maybe I’d look at it, at this beginning of all beginnings, and ask it, Why the heck do the women in our family still have La Raíz? You know, the whole reason why I’m the unwanted, ugly sister. I may allow myself another related question: Why, why, why didn’t I leave La Raíz in the carved milk jar, right where Mom banished it, on the windowsill in her bathroom?
I can still picture the moment. Despite Mom warning us, with one hand on her Bible and the other basically on the graves of all our ancestors, to never, ever, ever touch the milk jar, I got on my tiptoes, grabbed the white bottle, and pulled the top off. And released all the yuck back into our bloodline, apparently. Like a little Pandora-in-training. Of course, nothing happened at first. I spent years thinking Mom outright lied to us.
And then I had sex for the first time.
But that’s another beginning for another time.
You know what, though? This whole beginning is super important in the context of, like, my whole freaking life. So…