A Different Kind of Corona
by Lily Holbrook
Luna had always been interested in the sky. She was called Luna after all, named after the lunar eclipse that had happened on the day she was born. From the way the clouds danced across the sky to the rare shooting stars on dark nights, she had always been enthralled. “Go go goooo!!” cried Luna, as she ran alongside her best friend and sister, sprinting towards the distant line of trees in the early morning light, the rest of the world still asleep. Trainers thudding, hearts panting, they ran as fast as they could. The world was a blur around them as they ran, oblivious to all other sights and sounds of the park beyond. “Phew,” said Ella, clinging on to a nearby tree trunk as she bent over to catch her breath. “Remind me again why we’re out running at half 6 in the morning Luna?” The pair of them flopped to the floor, the hard tarmac of the almost-empty park cold against their backs as they let themselves melt like snow into the ground, hearts thumping in their chests. “Trust me Ella! Just you wait and see.” They lay silent for a while, finally noticing the world beginning to wake up.
Heads in contemplation, the girls watched as a blue-clothed figure sleepily made his way home after a night shift. Looking to their left, they watched as an old man silently reminisced over a past life on a park bench while two joggers let their dogs run free on a distant hill. All of them had one thing in common: their usual happy glow was gone. Ella sighed as she looked at the canvas of sky above.
“Don’t you think the world is so crazy right now? No school, no sport, no socialising...and all because of a word I’d never even heard of before.”
“I know,” exhaled Luna thoughtfully, “It’s almost like it’s not real life.” She glanced down at her watch: 6:41am on June 21st 2020. “But I know something that might cheer you up” she smiled, as she gazed hopefully up towards the sky.
Across the park, Peter sat on a bench, his walking stick leant carefully against his knee. A wave of cool air swished past, rustling the newspaper folded between his legs. He thought of all the times he and his wife used to walk here together, the carefree conversations and the romantic picnics. But not anymore. He took his handkerchief, pressing it to his face as a tiny tear escaped from the corner of his eye. He looked up.
Approaching the park that lay a stone’s throw from the hospital, Jack walked home from work, his legs like jelly beneath him after another gruelling 12 hour night shift. He still wore scrubs as he fumbled for his phone buzzing in his pocket, the tiny vibrations tickling his leg. He pressed the button to receive the call from his fiancée. “Jack...look at the sky”. He could barely face putting one foot in front of the other, let alone crane his neck to look at the sky, but he obeyed. And what he saw didn’t disappoint. High on the hill, two dogs raced up a muddy track, frantically followed by the two joggers as they struggled to keep pace. “I hope this is worth the daily exercise,” exhaled Emily, breathless, looking towards Katie as they finally made it to the top. “I hope so too,” Katie breathed heavily. Far in the distance, the exhausted pair watched as two tiny figures lay flat on the floor, waving towards a tired doctor just emerging from the nearby line of trees. The doctor waved back at them half-heartedly as he continued towards home, coming to pass a bench where he nodded towards the only other person that could be seen for miles around. All at once, the wind began to pick up as the sky darkened, and Emily and Katie turned their heads in awe towards the sky.
Somewhere on a blazing ball of orange, across the other side of the solar system, Ally the light ray watched as 6 gazing pairs of eyes looked up at her from a tiny park on a distant planet far away. She watched as she saw the exhausted doctor, the melancholy old man, the worn out joggers with their dogs. She thought to herself, “I wish I could make things a bit better for everyone.” Ally’s tail flickered, a warm golden glow. She looked around and saw millions of others just like her, all combined to create a halo around the sun, only truly visible from Earth when the Sun’s great ball of fire was concealed by the Moon. Together they were called the corona. What can we do? thought Ally as she watched her friends dance around each other creating golden streaks of light, colliding and bending as they hit each other. Then, suddenly, she had a great idea. “Listen! It’s time to do something amazing for the planet,” declared Ally, dreaming of a spectacular light show that would bring back the light...and everyone’s glow. But she needed help. “Listen here everyone...I need your help. You see the blue and green marble over there, the one our Moon friend is about to cover,” she said, sending a wave of rippling golden sparkles towards the third ball from the Sun. “That planet is in a bit of a predicament right now.”
“What do you mean?” asked one of her friends curiously.
“It’s going through a tough time. It has something called coronavirus, where lots of tiny corona germs get spread around when people see each other. And that makes people poorly.”
“Oh no,” said another light ray, pausing for a moment. “That’s not good at all. But why is it called corona? I thought we were corona.”
“That’s exactly why I want to do something special. Whenever anyone hears the word corona, they think of bad things. So, I thought we, as the better kind of corona, could do something to make things a bit better. Almost like an apology for our name.”
Her friends smiled and nodded in agreement. “Let’s show everyone that corona can be a good thing too. How will it be special Ally?”
Ally tilted her head to one side and thought about her plan. This wouldn’t be any normal solar eclipse. She wanted to make this a truly special display. “Well, I thought we could try to combine this solar eclipse with something even more spectacular. It has to be magical. But I needed to ask you whether you think it can work.” Ally whispered the plan to the other light rays as a huge grin began to spread across their faces. “Is that even possible?” echoed her friends, entranced by Ally’s master plan.
“That’s the only sticking point,” said Ally, “We need to ask the Sun for permission.”
Stirred by his name, the Sun awoke as he tuned into their conversation.
Ally looked at the great ball to which she was attached. She realised to be set free was a big ask. But she was determined to do it.
“I hear you want to be set free Ally,” gleamed the Sun, looking down towards her and countless other golden streaks that shone on every inch of his surface, forming a beautiful halo of light. “Usually, we would only allow one phenomenon at a time,” the great ball of fire reasoned thoughtfully. “You see, doing too many things at once can be tricky.”
“Please, Sun,” said Ally, “The people on planet Earth deserve it. See that doctor?” she said, pointing towards the tiny park, on the tiny Earth millions of miles away. “He works tirelessly on the hospital wards, putting himself at risk to make sure others are okay. And that man, there,” she continued, pointed towards the lonely man on the bench, “He lost his wife to this.” The Sun looked at her, a deep sadness welling inside as he thought of all the people who had lost something to the wrong kind of corona. “Those dog walkers are on the verge of losing their jobs if things don’t get better soon. And those girls have forgotten what it’s like to be carefree, spending time with friends and being young. I want to make this the most magical day, something to remember among even the darkest of times.”
“Hmm,’” thought the Sun, “Maybe on this occasion we can make an exception.”
Ally glowed with excitement. She was determined to put on the brightest, yellowest, most sparkly display to wow the world and bring back the joy.
Now was her time to shine, brighter than she ever had before.
Back on the tarmac, the audience were mesmerised. “Ella look!” said Luna with her eyes shielded as she pointed towards the Sun, “It’s a solar eclipse!” They watched what looked like a giant chocolate button as it slowly crept across the Sun’s surface, blocking the usual golden rays and replacing them with a twinkling halo of light that illuminated the edges of the big black circle in the sky. “It’s like the Moon’s silhouette is wearing a crown!” said Ella excitedly, gazing up at the sky. “Woah...there’s more than that! Look at all the amazing colours!” said Luna as she watched a spectacular array of blues and greens and purples rippling through the sky. Ally’s plan was working. In a wave of coronal mass ejections, she and her other Sun halo friends had created something beautiful for their audience on Earth to see. Set free by the Sun to create the beautiful aurora, Ally and her friends hit the Earth’s atmosphere, spiralling in colourful luminous rays like strokes of a paintbrush painting the most spectacular piece of artwork imaginable. “Good job Ally,” beamed the Sun. “This is so amazing” said Ella. And suddenly, something else wonderful began to happen. As smiles spread across their faces, the exhausted doctor, the mournful old man and the tired joggers all began to light up as a little bit of happiness made its way back into the world. “That’s corona, right there,” said Luna, pointing towards the glowing light around her best friend who had suddenly lit up with a newfound hope. “You’ve got your corona back.” “But...I thought...” said Ella, a puzzled look on her face, “...Nobody wants corona.” “A different kind of corona,” Luna smiled, “The word corona means crown, like a crown of light. All of us have a light that surrounds us. When we’re happy we glow. Just like the Sun with its corona. But sometimes we need darkness to appreciate it.” The pair of them leant back to watch as the Moon slowly began to slide away, the Sun’s sparkly halo now invisible as the sky returned to normal. Ella and Luna smiled, knowing that sometimes the best things happen when everything is far from normal.