Friday, March 17, 2017

A quick summary of our Skype sessions and our Skypeathon

The map of documented Skype calls currently looks like this:




Documented calls from our Skypeathon - March 16-17 2017:

Call #1:
The first connection turned out to be Sara Gunneriusson, an English/Biology teacher at Bäckängsgymnasiet - due to the snow storm that hit the eastern coast of the USA - our original call was canceled and the next best thing was our own shining star Mrs Sara. With lots of vivacity she engaged the students and set a great standard for the calls to come.

Sara Gunneriusson and students - call #1

Call #2:
Marine geophysicist Dr. Kelly Hogan at the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge, UK, was our second call and she quickly gave us a lot of information about her research and the state of the polar ice and glaciers.

Kelly Hogan, call #2





Call #3:
Our third call went to Melanie LeJeune and her students at St. Louis Catholic High School in Lake Charles, Louisiana. My students were very happy to talk to students their own age and they got many informative answers to their questions. We hope to do something more with these students in the future.
A photo from the Louisiana side of things....

The students at St. Louis Catholic High School in Louisiana on the screen in the background, call #3




Call #4:
Jennifer Nolan greeted us from a wintery Maine and we were quickly drawn into her enthusiastic way of stressing the importance of the oceans and sea animals. Great call.

Jennifer Nolan, call #4


Call #5:
After a few trial calls with technological mishaps, we were happy to see everything working like clockwork when connecting with Dee Stonis and her students at Michelle Obama School of Technology and the Arts in Park Forest, Illinois.


Dee Stonis and students, call #5



Call #6: 
Nathan Doerr, at Wyoming State Museum, welcomed us in an entertaining and educational Mystery Skype manner which we took to heart.

Nathan Doerr, call #6


Call #7: 
Next thing on the list was to visit Dan Horton and his students at Broadway High School in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

Students in Virginia, call #7


Call #8:
At 5 pm it was time to focus even further west and we connected easily with Vicky Trevino and students at Colegio San Patricio in Monterrey, Mexico. It just happened to be a Twin Day for them (during Spirit Week) so some students were dressed up in similar outfits. They sang their national anthem and persuaded us to do the same. 






Call #9: 
Chrissy Gregg was nice to escort us around the World War II Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana. She showed us planes and war memorabilia while being very hospitable during this Q&A/Virtual Field Trip-session. Thank you! :) 







Call #10:
Next up was a Mystery Skype and the students quickly understood that we were dealing with the USA again. Questions back and forth until we had pinpointed them at North Plainfield High School, North Plainfield, New Jersey. Kelli Beard was teacher in charge on the American side.
New Jersey students on the screen, call #10


Call #11:
My American colleague and fellow teacher Rick Bleemel was helping us out and let us touch down with him north of Dallas in Texas. He revealed that he is cheering for Notre Dame in College basketball and (I think) they actually beat their opponents in the latest game. Yay! One student asked what his favorite historical era is (he is a History/Geography teacher) and I believe he said "the American Revolution."


Call #12: 
We turned a little east for the next call with friend Kelly Fykes and students in Vero Beach, Florida. We played a Mystery Skype version and it took a little time to find them on the east coast of FL. Great questioners and answerers. Always a pleasure Kelly! :)


Students from NA16F were in charge of this call, call #12.

Call #13:
I had arranged a session with Debra Erdmann and her students and today Veralice Estrada helped out in actually going through with the activity. We could find the students at Oxnard High School about one hour's drive north of Los Angeles. Excellent questions were asked on both parts, with special focus on political systems, and it sure was fun to be able to get an insight into the differences between the schools.

A look into a classroom at Oxnard High School in Oxnard, California.

Call #14: 
You could tell that Yellowstone ranger Greg Malloure was used to educational and informational sessions with students telling us about the importance of the national parks and Yellowstone in particular. The students learned that Wyoming is the least populated state in the US with around 600,000 inhabitants.





Call #15:
Our first (and only this time) visit with Canada came true through Dean Vendramin, teacher at O'Neill Catholic High School in Regina, Saskatchewan. I sent over a few questions from my students to his last week and earlier this week we received answers in a flip grid. Next week I will make sure my students answers with flip grids of their own. Thank you helping us out, Dean!

In between sessions this happened:





Call #16:
Is a canceled call still is a call? Well, if it is then we connected with Hampton High School in Hampton, Nevada. But, we really didn't, because our call wasn't picked up. :(

Call #17:
Kerri Thompson is wonderfully creative teacher that I come back to now and then since she is so committed in using digital tools. Her colleagues Alastair and Debbie joined in while we played Mystery Skype/Q&A with students at Tamatea Intermediate School in Napier, New Zealand. Love their uniforms and manners!

Students at Tamatea Intermediate, Napier, NZ. Call #17


Call #18:
Brian Johnson is also a teacher that I have come back to, because we share a common interest in digital tools and collaborations. He graciously answered my students' questions and gave us book tips (he's also a librarian). Brian lives in Arkansas, USA.

Brian Johnson, call #18


Call #19:
As March 16 turned into March 17 we connected with Richard McLaren and his students at Shirley Boys' High School in Christchurch in New Zealand.
























Call #20:
Juneau and Alaskan resident Sam Jordan answered many questions about life in that part of the USA. We saw a snow-covered landscape behind him and learned that he moved to Alaska a few years back, from New England. This summer Sam and his family will tour Scandinavia and visit Sweden for a few days. Therefore, he asked what kind of food dish he should eat while here and the answer was a quick "meatballs!". What to avoid? Fermented herring.

Sam Jordan in Juneau, Alaska. Call #20.

Call #21:
Call #21 was another call that never really became a call. This time confusion about the time and other school activities hindered us from connecting. Melbourne, Australia would have been the destination but this time it was a no go. Unfortunately.

Some singing occurred when a call didn't go through:




Call #22: 
At 2 am we called up Daniel Parsons in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii for a tour of the battleship USS Missouri (aka Big Mo), involved in the attacks on Iwo Jima and Okinawa among other things. The virtual field trip was very professional and we could tell that they had lots of experience in conducting educational field trips.



Call #23:
My old-time friend Désirée Harton Gold agreed to help us out with a vacant slot in the middle of the night. It was 9 pm in St. Paul, Minnesota, where she lives, as we connected and got talking about her life as a pastor, American values and the political climate. We have been friends for about twenty years but it was fifteen years since I heard her voice and got to see her "live" again. So thankful for this opportunity Désirée!



Call #24: 
St. Mary's International School in Tokyo, Japan was next. But somehow there must have been confusion about the time because they thought we would call an hour earlier than what we had planned for. So, this time no Japanese connection but we hope for a rain check.

Call #25:
3 x Olympian aerial flyer Emily Cook called us up at 4 am and despite being utterly tired my students managed to ask her interesting questions about her life. Emily was in high spirits and we felt so lucky to be able to meet her like this. Emily told us about how to persevere and not give up even when the going gets tough as an athlete.




Call #26: 
Malaysia was our next Mystery Skype and we connected with Kidurong High School in Borneo, Malaysia. Maggie Muuk was in charge of the call. Unfortunately we experienced some technical difficulties and had to call back many many times after the connection broke down. Still, we felt lucky to have added Asia and Malaysia on our virtual world trip. Thank you!



Call #27: 
The Mitahato Education Development Fund was in charge of this call where we got to learn more about Kenyan Food Culture and recipes. Kiambu, Kenya was the place we connected with and they were two hours ahead of us. Corn flour is a staple in Kenya and we compared that to the wheat flour status here in Sweden.




Call #28:
New Delhi, India was the next place and this call became short and I have to say that we had some problems understanding each other and energy was really lacking at this point in time. Still, my students managed to pull through - great effort!

Call #29:
Early Friday morning we turned our attention towards our own country, Sweden. A Mystery Skype was on the agenda and it sure was fun to see how the Swedish students reacted when they found at that they were both in Sweden. Borlänge was the town, Hagagymnasiet the school and Annika Karlin the teacher in charge. Great fun!
Students at Hagagymnasiet in Borlänge, Sweden. Call #29.


Call #30: 
Our next call, scheduled at 9.30 am, was with the Swedish minister for Upper Secondary School and Adult Education and Training (such a short title!) Anna Ekström. Some students felt an added nervousness in talking to a member of the government but the questions they asked were well thought through and the minister gave them good and comprehensible answers. An added bonus was that the minister's political advisor was Marcus Strinäs, a former alumni of Bäckängsgymnasiet.






Call #31
Anders Jacobsson, writer of many very popular Swedish tween books connected with us at 10 am on Friday morning. The students in SA16M had been fortunate to get to read his new unpublished manuscript and this was an opportunity for them to connect and give him some feedback on that script before it gets published.


Anders Jacobsson talks to the students, call #31.

Call #32:
As some of my students are prospective writers and journalists I thought it would be a good idea for them to speak to a well-known journalist. As luck would have it, I was happy to get hold of Håkan Steen, free-lance journalist/music editor at Aftonbladet and at 10.30 am we reached him for a 20-minute interview. He was a wonderful interviewee as he explained his career path and music interest to the students. His favorite artist? David Bowie. Best concert? Probably Håkan Hellström.

Swedish music editor and journalist Håkan Steen.

Call #33:
Tobias Rosvall, digital manager at Bonnier Broadcasting, works with sports in Stockholm. He got the students to talk about what his job entitles and he Skyped with us from C more's tv-studio.




Call #34: 
The final call of the Skypeathon was to Brighton College in Brighton, UK. Richard Grice talked about his previous experience of working with nuclear weapons and how he changed his career into teaching physics. A great way to end our 24-hour Skypeathon.










Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Student short story about love and overthinking - inspired by the art of Alice Pasquini

A short story about love and overthinking things, inspired by the art of Alice Pasquini, written by my student Hares Waseeq.




Love and Overthinking: A Short Story


Photo credit: http://www.isupportstreetart.com/we-all-swim-in-the-same-waters-by-alice/


Jack is your typical teenage boy, bearing long, blonde hair, and blue eyes. His most distinguishing feature is his height, reaching up to about an incredible 7 feet tall, making him an oak among sticks. 

Even though he is a whole lot taller than other boys, or even men, he is still just like everyone else inside, an apple of the apple tree.

Because of his height, he has always been pushed to play sports like basketball, or other activities where he can utilize his amazing height, although he hates playing sports.
Jack has always been lazy, but for a reason. He is far too skinny to hold up his height healthily, which means he gets tired a lot easier than other kids his age, which means height is not his only black duckling feature.
Something he does like, however, is something we all do, but do not see as an actual favorite hobby. Thinking.

He loves to think deep thoughts, questioning this and that, wondering why and how…
Because of these factors, he does not have many friends, as most boys don’t prefer the same cup of tea. Therefore he sees himself as his own best friend, and prefers to keep away from the bunch.

Even though he prefers to be alone, there is one person who catches his eyes, who makes him prefer not to be alone for once.
Her name is Mary.

Mary is just like Jack. She is tall. She is lazy. She prefers to be alone and does not have many friends.
She is also beautiful. She has short, brown hair, and big, brown eyes which you can get lost in for hours.

Jack snaps out of it. ”I don’t like her”, he tries to convince himself. ”I don’t like her”, ”I don’t like her”, ”I don’t like her”, ”I like her”, ”I love her”.
Butterflies start flying around in his stomach, tickling him up to his chest. He doesn’t want to have feelings for her, as he is certain she would never feel the same way.
”I’m not enough”, he thinks to himself.

He asks to go to the toilet, and when given permission, he gets out of the classroom, and goes outside to get some fresh air, to cool down his overthinking mind.
She’s there, outside, sitting on the bench.
He has no choice but to sit next to her, so he does so. He has to let her know what’s on his mind, or else he will always be swimming in a sea full of grief.
Jack decides to leave that sea, and fish in other troubled waters.

He turns to her, and sees that she’s already looking at him. His heart immediately started beating faster when he saw her big, brown, beautiful eyes, staring right into his.
Mary then breaks eye contact and looks down like the shy girl she is, and Jack could do  nothing but admire how cute she actually was. It was like sweets for his eyes.

But then, he started to wonder. Why did Mary look at him in the first place? Why was her expression so adorable? And why did she look away out of shyness?
”You have a cute thinking face”, Mary says out of nowhere, with a smile on her face.
Jack didn’t know what to answer. He was simply too astonished, and was fighting the butterflies in hopes of stopping himself from getting too worked up. Jack isn’t the best at keeping his calm, to say the least.
”Don’t worry”, Mary adds, ”I’m just like you, I get it”.
She turns her body towards Jack, and lets off a gorgeous giggle. Jack immediately falls in love with it, and smiles.
”You’re thinking face isn’t your only cute expression, is it?”, she says with a gentle voice. It was more of a statement than a question.

Jack can do nothing but to try and keep calm, as the feelings are too much for him. He refuses to ruin this chance to get everything off his mind.
But is it really the best time? What happens if it ruins the relation between the two? And what if these are all false signs?
Jack clenches his teeth and fists, realizing he is too weak to stop overthinking.
His favorite hobby is his biggest weakness, his biggest flaw. Every upside has its downsides.

Is it worth it? Does she really show true signs? Will she hurt me? Will I hurt myself?
Jack snaps out of it once again, this time feeling uneasy and nauseous.
He grabs a hold of his blonde, long hair, trying to calm himself down. Mary is still turned towards him, but now with a confused and worried look on her face. She looks as if she wants to ask him what’s wrong, but doesn’t want to go fishing in troubled waters.

Jack can’t contain himself anymore. He has to leave.
”I’m sorry”, he forces out of himself, and gets up, walking away fast, getting as far away as possible from the beehive. He couldn’t do it, and now has even more to think about, making him feel worse and worse, like more and more salt on the wound.

Mary watches him walk away, until he is no longer visible, and then dries her cloudy eyes. She has no idea what she did wrong. Did she say something wrong? Was she not pretty enough? Or was she simply not good enough?

Mary realizes she’s overthinking, not knowing Jack was doing the exact same thing.
All she can think about is his beautiful smile, even though she doesn’t want to.
”I don’t like him”, she tries to convince himself. ”I don’t like him”, ”I don’t like him”, ”I don’t like him”, ”I like him”, ”I love him”.

Thinking can be good, it can change your mind for the better, it can do a lot for you. But it also has its downsides, as thinking can also hurt you. You might think you’re not enough, while you’re someone else’s world. Some people think more than others, but those who think the most are the ones who are affected by it the most.
Therefore, even if overthinking can be a bad habit, one should never let their own brain be their own undoing. In other words, don’t pull the trigger to your own death trap.


We all swim in the same waters, but that doesn’t mean we should drown in our own thoughts.

Student poem - inspired by the street art of Banksy

Here another student, wanting to be anonymous, presents her poem inspired by Banksy's art. 

Photo credit: Getty Images




















A Heavy Heart 

Her body was overflowing with happiness
With a heart as light as a feather
Sparkling eyes shining brighter than all the stars combined in one
The sun threw its heat to the surface of the earth forcing the spring to bloom
The laughter and singing of playing children outvoted the buzzing of the city
Children just like her
Glowing smiles 
Free of worry
Dreaming of their future lives 
Pretending to be doctors, musicians and teachers

Waking up to the real world 

Dreams of a future she was never able to grasp, slipping out of her hands
Aching limbs and muscles
Her world instantly turned upside down
Love replaced with hate
Laughter overturned by screaming cries of sorrow
The howling wind echoing over empty streets 
Filling people’s hearts with colorless dust
Forcing out every good feeling that could possibly be left
The sounds of screams and murmuring streams of blood replacing the music of laughter

The world, a cruel place

Snatching the happiness of an innocent child in the blink of an eye
The bitter blast of a bomb buried her hope at once 
Erased the smiles on people’s faces
Opened up the doors for disaster and suffering 
Why would this little girl, out of every person on the planet, experience this hate
This lack of love and liberty

The taste of hate in the air makes the girl on the dusty streets shiver
The absence of peace is making itself reminded
When demons haunt their minds and bodies
When blood spills and tears fall
The life in the war zone is difficult 
Will it ever change? Will the life of the little girl ever go back to how it was before?
Before she was stained with blood
Before the tears were crawling down her cheeks, making marks in the dirt
Before the streets were drowning in dust and again dust

She closed her eyes, slumbering into a sleep that she hoped would last forever



Friday, March 10, 2017

Snapshots from today - Skype session with Flower Mound, Texas, USA






Today we were fortunate enough to be able to join Melissa Rhoades and her students at Lamar Middle School in Flower Mound, Texas, on their Skypeathon. We found out that our call was their 16th Skype session for the day and that they were awfully tired, the time also being 5.30 am in Texas. We learned a few new things about Texas (top picture), among other things, that the state animal is the armadillo. Thanks Melissa and students!

Student poem - Creative writing inspired by Alice Pasquini

Here student Aphinya Kam-Asa presents her poem, inspired by Alice Pasquini's "Deep Tides Dry."


















The Abyss 

Falling into the cold dark abyss, into the emptiness of his heart
The stars that were close to me were now too far apart
The things he told me were merely figure of speech
He gave me the half of his heart but yet it was far from my reach
Now I’m waiting for the darkness to devour my soul, waiting for the memories to swallow me whole
The moments I spent up there are not to be told
Secrets are kept and kept until old 
I will not forget what once was the truth
and the stars will sing for him and forever preserve his youth
He was the stars, the dust, the moon, the light
He blew me away into the darkness of the night
Now he shines brighter than the sun
Those who can reach him are; none
I waited for him, I opened up my heart
and the moment I saw him; I knew that he had me from the start
He played me like a cello, with every stroke I sing
He played me until I broke but still I call him my king
Words can not describe him, he was the wings on my back
Now he has left me and my wings have cracked

I’m now falling, falling and infinitely falling into the black

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Student poem - creative writing inspired by artist Alice Pasquini

Poem inspired by Alice Pasquini's art, see below:











Flickering lights 

The first warm tear left her eye and found its way down her red cheek.
Slowly, like a snake finding its way through a landscape, 
leaving a trace of black like a tail. 
Soon the lonely teardrop got company 
and the tears began to stream down her face in black lanes. 

She tried to wipe away the teardrops with her hand 
and felt her dry skin scratch against her cheek. 
When her fist was soaked and started to ache like salt in an open wound,
she gave into the waves of sadness rolling over her. 
She tried to breathe normally, 
but every time a wave crashed, 
it felt like someone put a hundred stones on her chest, 
making it hard to breathe. 
A cold hand of panic grabbed her heart, 
it felt like she didn’t get enough air, 
causing her pulse to race and beat like a sledgehammer. 

Her attempts to calm down by counting to ten felt worthless, 
the only achievement was not losing control over her whole body. 
She still had a part of her mind 
and she used it to dream away. 
Letting her thoughts drift away in the right direction to calm her mind, 
picturing her family, 
best friend, 
the cute guy in school, 
school, 
exam, 
failure. 

No, wrong direction. 
Her thoughts bounced like balls, 
and the monster from the deepest part of her soul slowly crawled out in the light. 
It fed off her biggest fear, 
failure. 
And now it was feasting in her dark thoughts and insecurities. 
The black shadow spread in her mind like sun rays in the morning, 
hitting everything visible and affecting it. 
Her body reacted immediately, changing her pulse from human to rabbit, 
as fast as a lightning striking a tree. 
She had to start all over with the counting to ten to handle it all. 

With her hand pressed against her stomach to slow down her breathing, 
she tried to escape the terrifying monster of darkness again. 
This time her soul floated like a butterfly through the dream world, 
built of clouds, rainbows and valleys filled with flowers. 
Containing animals playing around her in the green grass and she imagined the feeling of their soft fur against her hand. 

But especially she dreamt about the stars, 
oh how she wanted to see the burning lights in the sky. 
Looking so weak with their faded, flickering flames, 
yet so powerful. 
Millions of lightyears away, 
still their light cut through space, 
finding its way to her. 
And maybe they knew, 
maybe they didn’t. 
That their flickering light had saved her life. 

Suddenly she felt it in her bones, 
like wolves’ instinct to howl at the moon. 
She heard them screaming her name, and then she soared. 
She cut through the air like an arrow, 
feeling the wind dance in her hair and the cold tickle her body. 
Flying so high that she didn’t bare to look down, 
soon so far away that she slowly faded to a glowing dot on the night sky. 
Becoming a star in outer space, 
able to save someone else’s life with her own flickering light.


by Alice Helstad

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Student short story - creative writing inspired by art

Here Josefin Flyckt presents her short story "The Sun and the Moon," inspired by the art of Alice Pasquini.


Alice Pasquini "Arethusa and Alpheus"

The Sun and the Moon

Once upon a time the Sun and the Moon ruled the world together in harmony. Side by side they ruled Earth, the Sun always shining in the south and the Moon glowing in the north. Eventually, these two fell in love, and they loved each other so much that every night, the sun and the moon tore themselves from their place in the sky to dance on the pale dunes of the Sahara Desert, the wild oceans of the Atlantic, the deep jungle of the rainforest and all the other beautiful places Earth had to promise.

So when the night came, when the humans were fast asleep in their homes, and the night was silent as ever. The Sun and the Moon came down to dance once again. They wandered between the human homes, the Sun swirling the Moon in and out of his arms, whispering softly in her ear and making her giggle like a silly schoolgirl. They danced all night and when the morning started to yearn for sunrise, the couple came to a stop.
“I guess it’s time to say goodbye for now”, the Moon said, already missing the sun so much it hurt. The Sun took her hand before she could leave.
“We don’t have to leave. Stay with me, here, forever.” The Sun looked at the Moon with hope in his fiery eyes. 
“You know we can’t”, the Moon snickered.
“Yes, we can”, the Sun insisted, “I love you, and I would let it be night all the time just to be able to be with you.”
Touched, the Moon considered the Sun’s offer. Sure, she was tempted, very tempted, to just leave all her responsibilities behind and live with him on Earth forever. But could she really do that?
“At least think about it until we meet again”, the Sun said, folding his arms around her and kissed her one last time before the south wind swept him away.

When the Moon was back once again in her place in the sky, the Polar star, her dearest and oldest friend, appeared before her.
“You have to stop disappearing every night, what if the humans noticed you were missing from the sky? What if Pluto noticed?”
“Luckily I have you to cover for me. You shine almost as bright as me”, the Moon joked playfully. But the star didn’t appear amused. For he, as well, longed for the moon’s heart. If only she could see it, he thought. The Polar star, being the Moons closest friend, of course knew all about her hearts longing after the Sun and their affair, and he was not fond of it. If he could have it his way, he’d tell Pluto all about the moon and the sun. But he could not, for betraying his love and therefor lose her forever would be a far greater pain than to see her in the arms of another. The Polar star sighed deeply, once again facing the fact that he would do anything and everything to see the Moon happy, and if that meant lying to cover for her so she could see her lover every night and then return, so be it. At least he would get to spend the days by her side instead of the Sun.
“So, tell me”, the Moon said, catching one of the winds to carry her further up in the morning sky, “What has my other stars been up to?”
“Shining, of course”, the Polar star said.
The moon rolled her eyes at her friend.
“No, tell me what they have been up to.”
The Moon’s question was of course code for what the other planets had been doing and planning while she was gone. The other planets never really trusted the Moon, but the Polar Star, they trusted for some reason. The Polar star studied the Moon, from her pale skin, that shimmered in blue and grey and even looked a little white in some lightning, to her slim waist and short legs. He looked into her big blue eyes and, without even noticing, took a step closer to her. He leaned forward, so his cheek almost touched her white curls.
“Gossip, of course. Apparently, Saturn got another ring”, he whispered into her ear. The Moon giggled and The Polar star gave her a contented smile.
“Really?” She asked.
“Really.”
“I tell you, Polar star, that planet is too self-absorbed for her own good.”
“Isn’t that what’s fun about it all?”
“No!” The Moon said with a laugh on her lips, though trying –not especially hard - to look guilty about her comment. Talking bad about the other Planets didn’t exactly point toward good will, and right now, the moon needed all the good will she could get if she was going to keep seeing the Sun without attracting attention to her. Because the less attention they gave to her, the more freedom she got. Inhaling a deep breath, the Moon smiled and turned from her friend, for it was time to talk to Pluto, her “loving” mentor.

The morning seemed to rise even faster than usual this day.
“What’s the hurry?” Mars asked his older brother, the Sun.  
The Sun stopped to a halt and looked at his brother with pretended confusion.
“Hurry?” The Sun asked.
“You flew by morning as if death was hunting you? Has something happened?”
The Sun stood still, debating whether he should confide in his brother or not.
“I don’t know what you mean”, he finally said with an indifferent expression on his face.
Mars eyed his brother, taking in every inch of his expression, analyzing and turning and twisting it in his mind. Mars was the most intelligent of them all, after Pluto of course.
“You’re lying.” Mars accused.
The indifferent expression on his brother’s face turned into shock for less than a second, but Mars had seen it, and he would not forget it.
“Tell me”, he demanded his older brother. 
“There’s nothing to tell”, The Sun tried, but to no use. For he had let his façade crack for a short second, and now his brother would bash on it until it broke for real.
“Even though you’re the oldest you’ve always been a terrible liar, dear brother”, Mars pointed out.
The Sun gave his brother a tired smile as he turned away from him, facing the view of the universe.
“I suppose you’re right”, the Sun finally said, his smile fading.
Mars looked at his brother’s face, which had started to grow worried.
“What is it that’s troubling you, Sun?”
“Have I made a mistake, brother? Committing to this life?”.
“I don’t quite understand what you mean,” Mars said, frowning.
The Sun gave away a heavy sigh, rubbing his eye as if suddenly very tired.
“I mean, is there something out there that I should be doing instead of this? See the universe, search for and adventure… Fall in love?”
The Sun turned to his brother, his little brother, who even if he was young still was so wise.
“I suppose I’ve never really thought about that”, Mars said, starting to understand what was going on. “Have you?”
The Sun was quiet for a long moment, thinking of how to express his feelings.
“Lately I’ve started to wonder”, was his final words before leaving Mars to prepare for the meeting with the other planets.

“I hate her!” The Moon said when she once again stood in front of the Polar Star. As soon as she’d arrived at her chambers again after her meeting with Pluto, she had called for him.
“You and everyone else then.” The Polar Star joked, trying to lighten her mood.
“I’m serious!” She frowned, throwing her hand in an overdramatic gesture. “She’s the worst.”
The Moon open her mouth to continue her rant, but instead closed it and frowned.
“From one thing to another. Can I tell you something? A secret?”
“Of course, you can tell me anything”, he said, looking at her with a curios smile.
“Or well, it’s more that I need your opinion on something, an advice.”
The Polar Star nodded, encouraging her to continue.
“It’s just that you’re my best friend and you know I trust you more than anyone...”
“Get to the point.”
“I’m thinking about running away with the Sun.”
The smile on the Polar Star’s face turned upside down, like the gravitation itself had yanked it off his face.
“Really?” he said, sounding less salty than he felt.
“Do you think it’s a bad idea?” She asked, chewing nervously on her lower lip.
Yes! It’s a terrible idea, the worst I’ve ever heard, he wanted to scream, but if he said that she would get sad and regret telling him, and that was not something he wanted. So instead, the Polar Star gave her a kind smile and tried to talk reason with her.
“What about Earth? If you disappear from the sky everything will be out of balance, chaos even maybe.”
The Moon frowned once again.
“They’ll be fine”, she said eagerly, “I’ve thought about it a little you see. They have you, you’ve shone in my place every night to cover for me, and they haven’t even noticed. Some nights you even shine more brightly than I do. I would give you Earth, and you could rule in my place.” She smiled so brightly that the Polar Star couldn’t do anything else than smile weakly at her. Inside he was burning with anger, towards both the Moon and the Sun. There were a million things he wanted to say, a million thoughts running through his mind - most of them very mean and bitter.
“And what about the Sun?” He asked instead.  
“I’m sure Mars could take his place; they are brothers after all.”
How could she be so naive? So stupid? So selfish? So… in love? And with the Sun?
The Polar Star felt, for the first time in the Moons presence, disgusted. How could she want to leave him like this? Did the people and things she would leave behind even cross her mind? Inside, the Polar Stars emotion was a raging storm, but on the outside only confusion painted his pretty face.
“I love him, you know.”
Those words snapped the Polar star awake again. Loved him? The Sun? Was she mad? The one rule that existed among the planets – to not fall in love with another Planet - and she had to brake it. How could she be so stupid?
“You can’t tell anyone about this, Polar Star”, the Moon urged, putting a gentle hand on the Polar Stars arm. He stared at her hand, trying to decide whether to shrug it off or not.
“I promise”, the Polar Star lied.

The Sun had always thought the meetings with the other planets to be extremely boring, and this one was no exception. As soon as it was over the Sun hurried back to his palace to avoid further talking to the other planets. His brother stood by the open windows, on the exact same spot where the Sun had left him. Slowly he walked up to him, knowing that by doing so he would be forced to continue their previous discussion.
“I don’t want you to do it you know”, Mars said with a quiet voice, as if someone might be eavesdropping, “Leave, I mean.”
“I knew you would figure it out”, the Sun said, closing his hands behind his lower back.
“It’s what I always do”, Mars said, almost sadly, “But if it’s what you want and if you have a good reason…”
“I do.”
“Then I see no reason why I should be in your way.” And with that said, Mars gave his brother a squeeze on the shoulder and left.
The Sun rubbed his chin, thinking that he couldn’t stay in this place, even if the Moon chose him or not. 

Night was falling as the Polar Star made his way to Pluto. A big golden gate rose in front of him. He put his hands on it, ready to push it open. But he stopped in his track for second, thinking over and over again of what he was about to do. He didn’t want to, but the Moon had left him no other choice. It was all her fault. Why did she have to be this way? And why would he have to go fall in love with her? So with newfound determination, her pushed the doors open and greeted Pluto with a smile as he slowly started to die on the inside.

It was midnight as The Moon and the Sun met once again.
“I’ve missed you so much”, the Moon sighed as soon as she was in the Sun’s arms, feeling safe and sound.
“I’ve missed you too”, the Sun mumbled into her hair, holding her tight.
They broke apart, only to share a kiss and look at each other, as if they hadn’t seen the other in ages. The Moons ran her fingers over the Suns handsome face, memorizing every curve and hill with her fingertips, as if imprinting the feeling of his skin against hers. As if it was the last time they would see each other and every inch, every second, every moment needed to be remembered. The Sun entwined his fingers in her hair, feeling the weight of her white hair strands falling between his fingers, looked her deep in the eyes, as if he tried to see every hue of color in them. They kissed again, harder and more passionately this time, as if putting all the love their hearts could contain into it.  

“I can’t believe this”, a familiar voice growled.
The Moon and the Sun broke apart, only to look into the furious face of Pluto, closely followed by the Polar Star, Mars and the other planets.
“Well, it looks like you were right after all”, Pluto said, turning to the Polar Star. The Moon felt weak in her knees. No, please no. She wanted to scream at him, but instead only a hushed gasp came through her mouth.  
“Polar Star?” She pleaded, taking a step out of the Suns protective arms. “Please, tell me this wasn’t you.”
But the Polar Star didn’t look up, instead he turned away from her, giving her the cold shoulder. Numb, the Moons stumbled backwards, right into the arms of The Sun.
“The Moon”, Pluto addressed, turning towards the other Planets, looking at each and every one of them, “and the Sun has broken our one and only rule, you know what the punishment is. Go on.”
“How can you be so impassible?” Mars shrieked, his eyes darting between the Sun and Pluto. Pluto turned toward him, looking even more infuriated than before.
“Impassible! I only do what the law, our law, says. The only one to blame is your brother and the Moon. The law is final, one of them will die, no matter what you say.”
Mars looked at Pluto, shooting a last, sad, glance at his brother, before he stepped down again. The words sounded so far away for the Sun. Die? One of them would die because they fell in love? How could anyone think that was a good law? The Moon was shaking in his arms, trying to fight back her tears, be strong even if she’d just been exposed to the worst betrayal of them all. The other planets stood behind, ready to help if things heated up.
“Take them away”, Pluto said, and Jupiter, head of the guards, stepped forward, commanding his subordinates to take the Sun and the Moon away. The Moons grip around the Sun tightened.
“I won’t let them take us”, the Sun assured her. But what was his words against the law? Even if he put up a struggle, they were so many more, and more was about to come.
The guards were closing in when the Moon finally gathered herself again. She broke apart from the Sun and straightened her posture.
“You can’t do this”, she told the other planets. Then she turned toward the Polar Star, turning all her anger and heartbreak at him.
“How could you?” She screamed, anger rising like red fire up her face, “You were my friend, my best friend, and you gave me away! And for what?” She screamed at the top of her lungs, looking like she wanted to hit the Polar Star right between his eyes. The Polar Star still didn’t look up.
“Look at me”, the Moon yelled.
Finally, The Polar Star looked up, angry fire burning in his eyes.
“How can you not get it?” The Polar Star shrieked. “I can’t stand seeing you with him, at least this way I get to see you every day.” He looked so sad but at the same time so angry, as if he was tired of trying and know he’d had enough.
The Moon looked struck for a moment, obviously taken aback by the Polar Stars words. But she quickly brushed it off.
“After this, I never want to see you again”, she said, a final tone sprinkling her words.
The Polar Star looked sad, then angry.
“Very amusing, but it doesn’t change the fact of what you’ve done.” The Moon had completely forgotten about Pluto, and everyone else for that matter. For a moment she’d been so up in her own world that everything else had just disappeared. A guard caught grip of the Moons arms and started to pull her away. Behind her, the Sun was struggling with his own guards.
“Put them in the dungeons until we’ve made our decision.” Pluto said with a final look at the Moon, and walked away.

The Sun had never been in the dungeons before, and judging by how it looked, and how it smelled, he started to understand why. The hard ground became an eye-opener. How could he have been so paralyzed down there, why hadn’t he done anything. He felt like a coward, he should have defended them, at least tried to do something. Instead he’d let the Moon fight it for them. She was sitting right in front of him, in the cell opposite from him, sobbing quietly. Her white hair like a curtain around her. He’d tried to talk to her, but she couldn’t stop cry for long enough to answer. He sat leaned against the bars, looking at the Moon.
“We’ll be okay”, he tried, but that only made the Moon cry even more. He stretched out a hand, trying to reach out for the Moon. The Moon looked up at the sound of him moving, and stretched out her arm to meet him halfway. Their fingers entwined and the Moon immediately felt a little bit better. Their gaze locked and in that moment nothing else needed to be said, because they already knew what the other one wanted to say.
The doors to the dungeon opened, and in came Pluto. Her lips tightened at the sight of their hands. Right after her came two guards, making their way past her and to the Moons cell. They unlocked the door and started to drag the Moons away. The Sun started to bash on his bars, cursing at them and telling Pluto to take him instead. But the Moon didn’t start to cry again, and instead let the guards lead her out without struggle. Her fate had been decided and sealed. But before they could drag her out of the Sun’s life forever she broke free from them, threw herself at the Suns cell and pressed her lips against his one last time. It didn’t last long before the guards pulled them apart again. The Sun locked with terror as they started to drag her out the door.
“Wait”, he shouted once again, he had to stop this. “Take me instead, I beg of you, Pluto. Take me instead.”
But Pluto didn’t listen, for her mind had already been made up.

“I’ll give you morning.”
This, however, made Pluto turn her head and stop the guard. The Moon looked at the Sun with shock.
“No”, she said once it sunk in. “You can’t. Pluto, you can’t.”
Pluto put up a hand to quiet the Moon, and a guard put a hand over the Moons mouth, leaving only her muffled protests to be heard. The Sun now had Pluto’s unshared attention.
“What did you say?”
“Take me instead of the Moon, and I will let you have morning”, The Sun said, defeated. For he would give anything if it meant that the Moon would get to live, even if it meant giving away his own life and kingdom.
“Interesting”, Pluto said, looking between the Sun and the Moon. “You love her so much that you would give away everything for her, even your own life?”
The Sun nodded.
With a thoughtful face, Pluto gestured to the guard to put the Moon back in her cell. The Sun let out a relieved breath. As soon as the guard let go of her, The Moon threw herself at the cell door, pulling and bashing at it.
“No, I won’t allow it! You chose me, Pluto! Don’t take him”, she begged, “Please, Sun, take it back. Let her take me instead!”
“No”, Pluto said, “I’ve changed my mind. And this way, you get your punishment anyways.” Then Pluto had the guts to flash her a smile.

And so once upon a time, the Sun loved the Moon so much that he died to let her breathe.