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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group

Little Universes

Heather Demetrios

Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)





It wasn’t a Nobel-winning astrophysicist who made this discovery, but a Norwegian jazz musician named Jon Larsen. A completely random human who’s into the cosmos and got to thinking.

His experiments led to the observation that these micrometeorites are EVERYWHERE—gutters, yes, and in our hair, the tops of cars, on the rosebushes in your front lawn. Stick out your tongue long enough, and perhaps you can SWALLOW THE STARS.

In case you didn’t know, these micrometeorites are older than the planets themselves, some of the oldest matter in existence. Some of them are older than the sun, even. One hundred metric TONS of stardust crashes into Earth—Every. Single. Day.

And it’s just raining down on us, all the time.


My mom has this book called Acorn by Yoko Ono and, I’m warning you right now, if you read it, you will never be the same again. It should maybe come with a warning label.

Say her name to yourself, softly: Yoooooh … kooooohhhhhh.

Mom says Yoko’s presence in the world is the universe’s way of reminding us all that we don’t have to spend our lives wearing business casual. Or sensible shoes.

Spend our lives. Minutes as currency. It’s like we’re paying God, handing Her our time in exchange for more breath: Here’s a minute, here’s another minute, another. And sometimes I want to be like, Can I have a refund? Or maybe an exchange. A new life. A new me. Because I’m only seventeen and I feel broke. Like I spent my life already.

Do you ever feel like your skin is a little too baggy, like a pair of jeans that you should probably get rid of, but can’t bring yourself to because maybe you wore them the night you lost your virginity or they’re your good-luck charm on test days? But you really want to get a new pair. Or some days your skin is too tight, like all of you got stuck in the dryer too long?

And that’s where Yoko comes in. She is the great reminder that It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way.

Yoooooh … koooooohhhhhh.

Whisper with me. Come on.

Do it.

I’ll wait.

The sound of her name is just like these wooden wind chimes my mom keeps on our back porch. The wind comes in off the beach and bumps them around, soft wood clunking out poetry. Sound medicine. An incantation.

Good word. Incantation. Almost as good as Yoko.

Yoko fronts her own rock band even though she’s a senior citizen, and she sees the truth of the world and writes about it and draws about it, too, and one time I got to see her art for real, and it made me cry, it was so good. Most people only know about Yoko because she was married to John Lennon. You know, the Beatle. He’s the imagine all the people guy. I’m a George girl, ’cause he’s the silent, sexy one who’s all enlightened and plays the sitar, but even I have to admit that John is the man.

People say Yoko broke up the Beatles, but that’s just dumb humans blaming a girl for boy problems. The thing is, people change. You know? You love someone, you make things with them, and then you realize you don’t fit anymore. And that’s what happened for John and Paul. They understood that it wasn’t working. No matter how good it was. Before.

In her book Acorn, Yoko has all these suggestions that she writes down for people to do. Like in “Connection Piece I”:

Whisper your name to a pebble.

Sometimes late at night I sneak out of the house and walk over to the beach. I go past the boardwalk, past those iconic Cali lifeguard huts, and the homeless guys and stoners, right down to where the water kisses the shore. I pick up a pebble and I whisper my name to it. Then I throw it into the ocean.

Maybe it will tell the crabs or jellyfish or dolphins my name when they come by.

Maybe someday the whole ocean will be whispering

Hannah. Hannah. Haaaaaa … naaaaaahhhhhhh.

I always have a Sharpie in my pocket, and when no one’s looking, I write my own acorns. They’re not like Yoko’s. They’re more like secrets I whisper to the whole world. Or just thoughts I want to share, but have no one to share them with because if I did they would give me that blank look they always do when I say things like what I write down with my Sharpies. I say stuff like that and Dad goes, “Maybe we should make an appointment with Dr. Brown,” and then I say I don’t really need to sit in her stupid paisley chair and talk about my problems and I walk out before he can start rattling off statistics about adolescent junkies, though he would never use that word. Neither would I. Because I’m not one—a junkie, no matter what they say in group. Mom tries to sweeten the deal with some Reiki from her friend Cynthia after the Dr. Brown appointments, to balance things out.

There isn’t enough Reiki in the world to fix me, but I don’t tell her that.

I wrote this on a stop sign a few days ago, after my first week of senior year:

i am invisible.

Mae would say this is a scientifically unsound assertion, but she doesn’t understand that some things are true even if you don’t have proof.

I don’t know why I do them. The acorns. It’s weird, I guess, to leave little pieces of yourself all over Los Angeles and never go back to pick them up.

Copyright © 2020 by Heather Demetrios