Once Upon A Time

By Joe Labriola


Once upon a time,

a young child bought a science kit.

He had a school assignment to,

“Make a product of your imagination,”

and so he decided to tinker with his toy set.


The box came with all of the necessary tools and rules.

He set the star in the middle of the dark void,

and with a spin, he set the sun spinning like a self-sustained dreidel.


The child followed the directions,

pouring the chemicals into the glowing box.

He watched as the bits of gas and pebbles whirled around and around,

until they began to condense into more uniform rocks and spheres of gas.


While this happened, the child noticed how the box’s black edges reflected no light of the sun.

Instead, the rays went on, fading into the abysmal darkness on all sides.

In a spurt of artistic creation, the child took a paintbrush wand and dabbed billions of tiny white dots along the walls.

It was a much prettier box now.


Class day came.

The child displayed his project to his mentors and classmates.

They were impressed by the system in place.

So precise. So randomly varied.

By now, most of the debris had coagulated.

Some of the rocks spinning close to the sun sizzled with heat.

The big gassy blobs farther out were much cooler, or sustained by their internal heat.

One stony sphere happened to be placed specifically enough where water had settled on its surface.

The warm moisture yielded some green mold and simple cells.


Cute project.


The child took his project home and forgot about it in his closest for a while.

But the sun still shone, and the rocks still spun for a long while longer.

And all that while,

the child had no idea of the life that he had bloomed, and doomed, in his box in the dark.



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