The Stuff Dreams are Made Of


nce, a well-known Nobel Prize winner – a Portuguese writer – , when asked what, having won all the major literary prizes in the world, he could still ask for, said: “Time. All I wanted was time so I could write more stories.”

For at the age of 653 years old, he was dying.

It turned out that the Portuguese writer had a very rare condition called cancer, caused in part by the same cellular division that renews our bodies. Every time our cells divide, the telomeres (regions of repetitive DNA at the end of the chromosomes, which protect them from deterioration) shrink. But, when they get short enough, our cells can no longer divide and our body stops making these cells. Over time, this leads to aging and death.  As a cell begins to become cancerous, it divides more often and its telomeres become very short. If they get too short, the cell may die.

Fortunately, due to the enzyme telomerase, which rebuilds telomeres, this was not a problem for most people. Death wasn’t unheard of, but it was so rare that people often forgot it and lived like immortals.

That was for the best: if burdened with thoughts of mortality, how could humankind have united and conquered the empty spaces of their home planet first, then go to the Moon and Mars? The colonization of the solar system was in full expansion now, and the Portuguese writer was craving the opportunity to go and see Uranus and its moon Miranda.

(He had met the Bard in his youth; it would have been nice to meet him again and tell him the satellite was called that because of one of his plays. But now he would never be able to go. Besides, he thought, Shakespeare was dead and so would he be in a matter of months, and there was no such thing as an afterlife. Who could believe in stuff like that, anyway?)

All in all, it was a good life, the Portuguese writer thought on his deathbed. If too short.

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  1. Time to write more stories…. isn’t that what we all want? :)

    Thank you for this story, Fabio. And it was entirely too short. :)

  2. Thank you, Berit! Yes, it all amounts to that in the end – and what untimely ends we all have, alas. :(

  3. :3 this is a good one, EVEN NOW. STILL. After all this… time ;D

    (no really, lovely piece)

  4. There is NEVER enough time to write all our stories. Not even 653 is enough, because the longer we live, the more stories we have.

    Your story is short but succint and concentrated. Amazing how much information you’ve packed into seven paragraphs! Really enjoyed this.

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