Being the Universe’s First Molecule Was Kinda Lonely

Being the Universe’s First Molecule Was Kinda Lonely

(Image: © NASA/SOFIA/L. Proudfit/D.Rutter)

I know it sounds glamorous. But trust me, it was hard, being the first. Before me, there was just hydrogen and helium. it was too hot for atoms to combine. But about 13 billion years ago, it cooled sufficiently for me to form — helium hydride.

Of course, I was made fun of.

“Look at him, he’s not helium and he’s not hydrogen,” they said.

“He’s not even lithium!”


I wondered off into a dark corner of space to live by myself for eons and eons.

It was OK. To pass the time I read science fiction books and watched speculative stuff on TV like The Hundred or that other weird one about half the world disappearing for no reason. I liked that kind of thing. I listened to atmospheric music like Brian Eno. I didn’t really like music with singing or words. I just liked spacey, weird shit like Adana Twins.

But when I turned twenty million, I kinda outgrew my emo phase and went looking for something else to do.

I found that there were tons of other molecules that had formed while I was away feeling sorry for myself. Even some of the other atoms who had bullied me joined up with me now and I became part of more complicated molecules. And then one day I looked around and all I could see was a bright light.

“What’s happened to me?” I asked the molecule sitting next to me.

“You’ve become a star.”

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