The Origin of Gravity


“What is it?” The boy’s father whispered.

“Why do we stick to the ground?”

His father chuckled. In the dark of the tent he could not make out his boy’s face, but he knew the question was in earnest.

“Ahh,” said the boy’s father, “you are asking about Aelah.”

“Aelah?” Said the boy.

“Well, you know her today as Earth.”

“Earth? You mean the Earth was a person?” Said the boy sitting upright, a lone strand of moonlight falling across his face.

“No, not a person, son. A titan. Another being entirely, one that came before human beings.”

“I didn’t know there was anyone besides us…”

“Oh yes, many, but Aelah is who we know best. She was the strongest of the titans, and the wisest. She discovered the essence of life itself. It resided within her, within all of the titans. It took her centuries – millennia, some say – , but she found a way to temper that life force, and with it she gave birth to the first human.”

“So… I came from a titan?” The boy asked as a cool breeze rolled through the tent.

His father laughed. “No, you came from your mother—and don’t forget it. But decades, centuries, /millennia/ ago, the first humans—our ancient ancestors—came from the titans.”

“How?” The boy asked.

“Hard to say. The details get fuzzy over such a long time. The legend is that we were made from the titans own body, broken bits of dirt and clay fashioned into people, but no one knows for sure.”

“Hm.” Said the boy.

His father continued: “Aelah had many sons and many daughters, just as all the titans did. Her children would swarm around her as she soared amongst the stars.”

“You mean, humans could fly?” The boy asked, looking up at the twinkles of light poking through the canopy of leaves above.

“Yes, long, long ago we could. But one day, Aelah became sick. Her body shivered uncontrollably as a deep cold set upon her—”

“The Ice Age!” Interrupted the boy.

“Yes, son, the Ice Age. Aelah knew she would not survive. She felt worn down, tired from years of creation. The life force that resided within her began to fade. She looked around and saw her children surrounding her. They had brought her such joy over the years, and true companionship in a dark, empty universe.

“But she knew they were fragile. For years, she had kept them safe, shielding them from the flames of suns and the ice of comets. She knew they could not survive on their own, that they would fly off into the darkest corners of space with nothing to guide them.

“As she drew her lasts breaths, her final wish was to protect her children, to prevent them from wandering too far and losing themselves in the cosmos. So, using what little remained of her life force, she placed a curse on her own body, one that pulls all nearby objects toward her, including her children. She let out her last breath as her children fell from the sky and landed amongst her vast oceans.”

“So, gravity is a curse?” The boy asked.

“It is, son. To protect us, so we don’t fly too far from home.”