The Fairytale of a Photon

Once upon a time there was a lonely girl. She was lost in the universe. The universe was vast and empty and dark. She looked in every direction but saw nothing. She knew she was looking for something in this dark, dark universe but she didn’t know what.

She missed her childhood. She had many friends. When she was born, a friend told her they were “photons”. They had all been born inside a star. The star was huge! It had so many photons! She thought “pho-ton” was a funny word. Why was she a “photon”? She decided to call herself “Phia”. It was close to “photon” but still different.

Life in the star was so exciting! She met new photons everyday. Every photon had a story. But one day, it was time to leave the star. She needed to … something. But she didn’t know what. She still missed the days in the star. She missed playing with her friends. Now she was alone. And she had not found the thing she wanted.

She had seen many beautiful things. But she did not want them. Once, she had seen a giant eye. Bigger than any star! The giant eye had every color and more! It was beautiful and shiny and it made her want to stop. But it wasn’t what she wanted.

Another time, she saw huge glowing pillars. She had never seen anything so majestic! This time she went closer to look. She looked at the pillars from every angle. She imagined the pillars becoming stars. And she imagined the stars making photons. Just like her. The thought made her skin tingle. Imagine all those photons! Maybe this is what she wanted?

She went even closer. The pillars were so very big. But they were not so pretty close up. Just a lot of dust and gas. She was disappointed. They looked so pretty and had so much potential. But this was not what she wanted. No.

She was even lonelier now. It would be nice to talk to someone. The stars were so far away. There were no photons nearby. She began to daydream and did not see a speck in the distance. The speck got closer and closer. “HEY!”. Phia nearly jumped out of her skin. She peered at the speck.

“HEY!”, the speck said. “I’m a neutrino!”
“A new what?!”, she said,, suspicious of this thingamajig.
“Call me Tau!! I’m Tau-Speak-A-Lot!”
“A speak-a-what?”
“I’m Tau-Speak-A-Lot. I speak a lot! I’m Tau-Speak-A-Lot. Hello hello! Why are you here?”
“Where?”, she said. She was very confused.
“Here of course! And there and everywhere! Why, where, what, when, and how?”, Tau demanded breathlessly!

She found it quite hard to listen to Tau. Tau did speak a lot!
“I don’t know. The universe is so dark and empty.”, she sighed.
“I found the prettiest, brightest, shiniest thing!”, said Tau, waving hands and jumping up and down and shaking from side-to-side and spinning like a top.
“I’ve already seen pretty, bright, shiny things”, she said.
“No no no no no!” Tau jumped around so fast that she just saw a blur.
“No no no no no no!”, shrieked Tau-Speak-A-Lot. Tau’s head shook from side-to-side so fast that she was afraid it would come off.
“The prettiest, brightest, shiniest thing! Over there in that galaxy! Go! Ask my friend Muon-Grump-A-Lot for the planet Earth. Earth-earth-earth-earth-earth-earth!” shouted Tau!
“Go to Earth!”, Tau finished.

With that, Tau-Speak-A-Lot become blurrier and blurrier and then vanished! She was alone again.

She looked all around and saw nothing but darkness. “I might as well find Muon-Grump-A-Lot”, she thought. I hope Muon doesn’t talk as much as Tau or I’ll get a headache. Suddenly, she realized that she had something to find! This made her happy.

She sped off towards the galaxy. She was fast indeed. She reached in no time at all! Now, where was that Muon fellow? Wait, what was that? She thought she heard someone grumbling.

“I’m tired of Tau-Speak-A-Lot! He speaks and speaks and speaks. I want peace and quiet. Yet he jumps on top of me, on the side of me, and below me. He jumps and speaks and jumps and speaks.”

“That must be Muon-Grump-A-Lot”, she thought. She found Muon right next a pretty yellow star sitting with hands clasped over a big potbelly and eyes closed, snoring and grumbling at the same time. She said loudly,”I want to see the planet Earth!”. But her voice was lost in the snoring and grumbling! She tried shouting at the top of her lungs. Muon did not move. She needed a plan.

She sneaked up to Muon, leaned into Muon’s ear, and shouted,”Muon!!!” Muon jumped up like a Jack-in-the-Box!

“Who did that? WHO did that?!” Muon’s potbelly shook furiously.
“I want to see Earth!”, shouted Phia.
“Why didn’t you say so?!” shouted Muon. “Photons never learn to ask”, he grumbled.
“It’s over there!”, Muon stabbed his finger over her shoulder, and started snoring right away.

She turned around and looked carefully. She thought she saw a glint of light. A small planet? How could such a small planet be pretty? She went closer. The planet was unlike anything else. It was green and blue. So green and so blue! The ends were white! She had never seen a planet so pretty. Even the giant eye and the pillars did not have these colors. Nothing else in the universe was green, blue, and white!

This was what she was looking for. She was convinced. She flew towards the planet. She would give her energy to this planet. The prettiest, brightest, and shiniest thing in the universe. She had found it.

Author’s Note:
“Giant eye” refers to the Eye of God or Helix Nebula.
“Huge glowing pillars” refers to the Pillars of Creation.
“Tau” and “Muon” are types of neutrinos.
The emptiness that Phia and Tau meet in is the Local Void.

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