The world awoke one bright morning to find that the Sun was gone, replaced by a circular cardboard cut-out that looked just like a child’s drawing. The cut-out was roughly coloured in by a yellow pencil, with some of the colouring straying beyond the circumference of the disc and staining the blueness of the sky.
Short cardboard rays were coming out of the rim and a smiley face was sketched inside the circle. After mankind recovered from the shock of losing their beloved star, urgent plans were made to locate it and put it back in its rightful place. Great rewards were offered to anyone who could provide information or clues as to its whereabouts. Police forces around the globe allocated their best men to try and pinpoint who was most likely to commit such a heinous act.
Crime organisations were pressured to reveal if this was their doing and, if so, how much did they want for the Sun’s safe release. The most prominent clairvoyants and psychics were called upon to use their extrasensory abilities to help find where the Sun might be held against its will. Despite these exhaustive efforts, the Sun remained missing, although many continued to cling desperately to the hope it would still be found alive.
With time’s passing, the pain of losing the Sun became less acute. The world slowly grew accustomed to the substitute and even began to appreciate its benefits. People understood how lucky they were that this impostor gave out the same amount of warmth and illumination as the original star. The physicists were pleased that the replacement exerted an identical gravitational force, so that Earth’s orbit remained unchanged; the workers were relieved that the stand-in did not increase their hours of labour, and the farmers were thankful that the cardboard disc provided an equivalent quantity of light to nourish their crops.
Eventually, it was seen as quite appropriate to have a bogus Sun up in heavens, given that so much else was phony in society: fake tans; artificial noses on artificial faces; feigned smiles and laughter; fabricated, unnatural foods; living counterfeit lives on the computer. Many believed the substitute was put in the sky as a sign of the divine approval of humanity’s false ways.
Consequently, it was concluded that unauthenticity is the true nature of man. Centuries passed and there was nobody left on Earth who had experienced the glory of the original Sun. The crudely coloured cardboard disc with its cardboard rays and smiley face was now the only sun this world had ever known. Lovers swooned under the warm beauty of its radiance; artists, imbued with inspiration, painted masterpieces of luminous colours depicting the circle in all its vibrant glory; composers wrote symphonies dedicated to the perfection of its proportions; poets extolled the elusive enigma of its smile in their sonnets and religious worshippers thanked their Maker for gifting the Earth with such a miracle of nature—the Substitute Sun.
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Boris Glikman is a writer in Melbourne, Australia