She was in space.
Of course her mind spit out the thousand ways she should be dead. Hypothermia. Explosive decompression. Boiling blood. The air around her felt pleasantly cool, about the same as at home. She was breathing.
“PRETTY, ISN’T IT.“
Space was made of black strings and bright strings. If she pulled any, would the air around her pop like a balloon?
“EVEN I DON’T TOTALLY KNOW WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I PULL THE STRINGS.” The god sounded amused.
In that moment, Miranda would have pulled a string that would have destroyed this whole universe and the god and her with it.
“NOTHING CAN DESTROY ME.” The god laughed. “I’M FOREVER.“
She still contemplated pulling strings.
Then the strings were gone, all of them.
“NEXT LEVEL POWER! IT’S ME ALL THE WAY DOWN!” Stars in the distance formed into a grin.
The strings must still be there, just hidden from her. So the god couldn’t do everything.
“YOU’RE SO CLEVER. I LOVE THAT!“
She went limp. She was powerless, even while it was sleeping. She couldn’t imagine how powerful the god would be if it was awake.
“NO, YOU CAN’T.“
She was done. Exhausted, and lost, she thought about Mom and Cindy and even Bill, Tom and John. It made her smile to imagine their faces. Mom would say, “It’s okay. You did your best.”
“I LOVE THAT FEELING YOU GET WHEN YOU THINK OF THEM.“
Miranda’s breath hitched. “Me too.” Mom must be so scared.
The thought dawned on her slowly and without shock. She looked up and realized a light bulb had appeared above her head. The old fashioned incandescent kind.
She swatted the bulb it till it disappeared. “Want to play another game?”
She could feel the god pause to think.
Miranda floated in the nothingness. The longer she waited, the more alone she felt.
Minutes passed. So many that she realized there was no way to tell time.
She started to panic. What if it left her out here forever?
“YOU’RE TOO MUCH FUN TO ABANDON.“
She grit her teeth. “What kind of god takes that long to think?”
Mom’s exercises came automatically. She felt herself calm down a little. She felt the first glimmer of hope that she’d felt in … she didn’t know how long. As her breath slowed down, strings started to appear around her.
Lightly, she held strings to hold her thoughts close.
One of the stars below her expanded into the cluster of holes. Each one was a universe.
“I made up another game.”
“A GOOD ONE?“
She took a breath and hid her thoughts. She couldn’t trap the god.
But she could hide.
The string to her world felt familiar in her hand. The controlling strings to the god felt like electric wires. She didn’t let herself think of what she doing, she just yanked at the burning string. She didn’t have the power to close a universe, but maybe she had the power to nudge the god to do it for her.
The string to her world practically pulled her arm out of its socket. It dragged her like a jet stream. The cluster of worlds raced at her. The earth’s portal expanded just enough to pull her through. The air practically slammed into her as. Her first thought was how much she’d missed the smell of her town.
The god’s string vibrated in her hand, hot like a wire, stretched like bowstring. She yanked the earth string and the portal shrank down to a black round window. She looked down.
Mom, Cindy, and Cindy’s dads were thirty feet below.
She let go of the god’s string. It snapped through the portal, back to the god. As it passed through, a wave of power hit her like a sonic boom. Her world ripped free from the god.
“YOU’RE THE BEST DAUGHTER EVER.“
The portal fell in on itself.
“I’LL MISS YOU!“
The window popped out of existence. All the strings around her disappeared. Gravity tugged her down.
The god was gone.
Her universe still existed. She pumped her fist and let out a joyous scream.
Her body slammed into the street so hard, she bounced.