Long ago and millions of miles away, two infant planets were born. The first was a boy named Saturn. He was an energetic, mischievous moon, easily recognized by the thin ring floating around his waist. The other baby planet was a girl named Jupiter. She was shy, well-behaved, and wrapped in great red and white swirling clouds accentuated by a big rosy spot on one side.
The two met while they were still young moons orbiting around their mothers. As their parents chatted and discussed boring grown-up things—the price of star-dust, the cosmic weather—Saturn would tease Jupiter by throwing tiny asteroids at her, seeing if he could get close enough to make her shriek. Jupiter's spot would redden with anger and, fuming, she would report his misdeeds to her mother.
But when she saw that tattling did no good, Jupiter began her own game. She would sneak behind her mother and hide until Saturn came looking for her with an asteroid ready to throw. Jupiter would quietly slip out of her hiding spot, creep up behind Saturn, and ambush him with a big wet kiss! Saturn would yell in disgust and outrage and chase after Jupiter, throwing space rocks.
However, as the two young planets grew older, Saturn began to like his rock-throwing game less and less and Jupiter's kissing game more and more. Before long, Saturn was sneaking up on Jupiter with kisses. Instead of shrieking, though, she smiled, and the two fell deeply in love.
One day after they had reached planethood, Saturn turned to Jupiter and, admiring her swirling clouds, said, "Jupiter, will you orbit with me?"
Saturn and Jupiter were married in a beautiful ceremony. A short time after the wedding, the newlyweds busied themselves planning their future.
"Where do you want to live?" Saturn asked his new wife. As a newly married couple, Saturn and Jupiter were expected to leave their home galaxy and live on their own.
They thought back to the beautiful galaxies they had visited as young moons on family vacations, now overpopulated and polluted with space debris.
"Maybe we should just set off on our own and travel until we find a galaxy we like," Saturn suggested.
Jupiter's eyes lit up. "Let's do it!" she exclaimed. " It will be such an adventure!"
"Yes," said Saturn. "Our first adventure!"
Their parents gave them tearful hugs goodbye, and the two set off with a nervous but exhilarated feeling. After a great deal of travel without seeing a thing, they came across a strangely shaped galaxy: it was a giant disc that swelled in the middle like a fried egg. Saturn and Jupiter had never seen such a galaxy.
As they drew closer, they saw a little gray planet in the distance and called out, "Hello there!" But there was no answer.
A little unnerved by the silence, the two approached with caution. When they were close enough to see the silent planet clearly, they realized the eerie truth: It was dead! Frightened, Saturn and Jupiter spun around to find that all of the planets in the galaxy were gray and lifeless. It was a graveyard galaxy! Jupiter and Saturn fled the spooky sight as fast as they could.
"We should go back!" Jupiter cried. "Don't you remember what our parents told us about black holes and cannibal planets? I don't want to be eaten alive!"
"Those are just scary stories to keep children from wandering off," Saturn said bravely. That graveyard galaxy was completely safe. Nothing there could have hurt us."
Jupiter began to gain courage. "Yes, you're right. And if we run into danger, we can always count on your asteroid throwing."
The explorers journeyed on. The next galaxy they found was big and bright, and they could see that even from a distance it was buzzing with activity. Saturn and Jupiter smiled at each other and approached the galaxy with excitement. But as they drew near, they were met with angry shouts from the residents.
"Hey! Who do you think you are? Get out of here!"
"What do you think you're doing?! This isn't your home!"
[. . .]
About Iowa Writes
Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.
In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.
Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.
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Eric Johnson grew up on a farm in Fairfield, Iowa, and is now a web programmer in Iowa City. He designs humorous and offbeat t-shirts in his spare time and is working on a second children's book.
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