The Life of an Electron

This is a story told from the perspective of a sentient electron that is part of a copper atom buried deep underground. The copper is then dug up and reacted with fluorine. In this reaction, Fluorine gains an electron, making the atom very stable.


Time fades away when one can remember the beginning of forever. The seconds, the minutes, the hours, and the years all blur together. Time means nothing when its intervals are not marked in any way. For me, time had started at the same time the universe was born, the day I was created, but was lost somewhere in the heavy and infinite darkness that surrounds me.

The darkness is all that I have ever known. As my small body, an amorphous being of mass and energy, floats through indeterminate space, I feel the strong current of forces guiding me down a predestined path. After the initial explosion of matter and energy, the rhythms of the universe were able to place everything into patterns, shapes, and spaces, which is why I am here.

I’ve heard whispers of the concept called “life.” It seems like a fantasy, a product of one’s wildest imagination. I cannot fathom what it may be like to have complete influence over one’s actions, to determine one’s future. I’ve heard that it happens on a massive scale, that creatures the sizes of which I simply cannot comprehend possess powers that I will never be able to understand. These monsters are able to see something that is beyond empty space: they see objects that are not defined by the particles that make them up. I can sometimes feel the insane rush of life as it attempts to take full control of the universe and as it reorganizes and redistributes matter in all the ways in which it can. But I know, at least, that I am one small piece in this greatness, so float around in my assigned energy level, content. I somehow know that without me an imbalance will occur, which will tip the world off of its axis forever. I am so insignificant that I am almost not real, yet my purpose is monumental.

Sometimes, while drifting through nothing I experience a repulsion from a body that feels so familiar to me. It is one of my kind, I can sense. Yet the laws of nature will never allow me to see my brethren. I also feel an attraction towards a large and dense pocket of something so completely different from what I am, but I know that I’ll never be able to see that, too. So I float around, being pulled in different directions by opposing forces, yet always going somewhere.

The calming lull of nothingness is shattered suddenly as a new type of energy enters my realm. A new type of force embraces me as the darkness escapes and is replaced by something so completely different. It is magical: a bright and blinding absence of nothing. As my body is permeated with energy, I go down paths that I have never thought I would. The predictability that I had been born into is suddenly ripped away from me. I am scared. I sense the presence of other matter. A force of indescribable magnitude rips me away from all that is familiar, and, all of a sudden, my existence takes on a new meaning. Eventually, a sense of peace pervades. Some indefinable and hidden desire within me had been fulfilled, I understand now. Something had been missing, a sense of belonging, a need for stability. I’ve found it now.

Something large may exist out there in the great unknown, something so big and powerful that I may never be able to understand. Massive creatures may be able to control the universe and perceive the world in magnificent and breathtaking ways, but an underlying force that strives for microscopic stability makes all those wonders possible. So I exist here, in my own little world, fulfilling a purpose as old as time and as big as life itself.

19 thoughts on “The Life of an Electron

      1. I think because we pay so much attention to atoms/electrons/molecules we start to humanize them. I think this happens across many different areas of study. For example, I know someone who studies art history and talks about paintings as if they are old friends.

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      2. That makes so much sense, Kat. Such a large portion of our brains seems to be dedicated to dealing with people, it would only make sense we would turn nearly anything into people as a way of dealing with it.

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      3. I wonder if that might be an evolutionary human trait. Maybe recognizing humans in nonliving objects makes it easier for us to interact with our environments. It’s interesting to think about.

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  1. This is a great piece, featuring the most fascinating narrative I’ve come across in some time. I especially enjoy the illustrations between insignificance and necessity placed upon the cosmic scope. Keep up the wonderful writing!

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    1. Thank you, Tylor. Writing from a non-human perspective is new to me, but I really enjoyed it. Delving into the mind of an electron made me realize just how similar they are to humans. Both of us are insignificant in the grand scheme of things, yet unique and important in our own way.

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  2. I enjoyed this story immensely, Kat. Another home run. Your writing recently has evolved to a new level, like your electron. This is excellent story telling in a unique and captivating way. I grant sentience to all things in my life. It’s possibly my ancient Greek heritage. Before the philosopher Democritus explored the building blocks of all matter and gave us the name atom, we conjured all manner of fantastical explanations of what was or was not life. Scientists are now proving what we have suspected in the entire course of human existence. Recently, we proved that plants have an intelligence and react with other living things purposefully for the good of the living plant community. The difference is they have no brain and so we must now figure out how this intelligence we are discovering in plants and animals includes or excludes humans. Aren’t we all just the sum of our atomic structure and aren’t the results reliant on how those structures are arranged? We know that the building blocks of life come from black holes. They are the recyclers of our known universe and gakaxies. Is a blackhole the mother of her galaxy? In all things is the energy that our lonely electrons provide. As the electron, so are we. Wouldn’t it be strange if dandelions cursed humans for their ignorance and lack of respect for their lives, seeing us as the lesser being? Now there’s a story waiting to be told.

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    1. Thank you! The question as to what defines life came up many times while I was writing this. If everything in the universe can be reduced to electrons, protons, neutrons, and the forces between them, what combination of them produces life? There really is no correct answer to that question, but looking at life from the perspective of something nonliving offers a new and highly interesting perspective on life. And if plants have feelings and the ability to control their actions in some way, maybe the superior cognitive abilities of humans aren’t even that impressive after all? When I started writing this, I had no idea that a simple electron could offer so much insight into humanity, but I’m glad it did. Writing about the thoughts of a dandelion seems exciting, I’ll put it on my list of potential writing topics. I really wonder what a flower could teach us about ourselves.

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    2. Oh, and in comparison to the giant, powerful, and utterly mysterious black holes that exist somewhere out there in the universe, we are just electrons. Maybe humans actually are electrons, just with more confidence than for our own good. Another interesting thing to think about.

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