for anon, who requested—humans have lights in their skin (kind of like fireflies) and they look a bit like the stars in the night sky

They call it the Kindling, when the faint sheen of prepubescence catches alight, and burns with all the brightness of adulthood. Girls of thirteen stand around bathroom mirrors, examining their faces for bright spots, looking for stray molecular clouds in their nail beds. At seventeen, the boys’ voices crack, and their skin flickers on/off like broken neon signs. All of them are in love with the astrophysics teacher, whose stellar wind sends flickers of light across the lab tables.

Late at night, they lie in bed tracing the spiral arms of their evolving galaxies, and dream dry dreams of neutron star collisions hotter than blue hypergiants.

You are in love, they say, when you find the person whose constellations fit with yours.

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