We met in the cool of the morning, stopped at a crosswalk light. I was thankful that you had paused in your running rather than running in place while we waited, and as we stood there your skin steamed lightly, exhaling softly into the frosty air. In the dim glow of the cloudy creeping dawn your smile looked like aspartame, but I figured that was only because you were tired.
I can't say for sure what it looked like in the outer atmosphere and farther when we started lighting up our world bright enough to see from satellites, but I have a pretty good idea. We had already managed to alter the daytime landscape, but then, daytime landscapes already alter themselves frequently and with little thought for asking permission. Mountains and rivers and lakes and deserts have been blooming and dying for much longer than we care to consider. Except that then we invented our lights and brought them all together, slowly at first, in clumps and small spidery projections, in defiance of the darkness. And that changed our landscape from far away in a manner that only we could have done.
When we're gone, that will be the first to change back. Dark will be dark from the farthest corners, and passing by new visitors would never know that we had ever been around.
Yesterday I watched a mouse crossing the street, and though there were no cars around I still found myself holding my breath, willing the tiny thing to make it all the way there.