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Rated: ASR · Short Story · Contest Entry · #2258683
But not all belong to Saturn
l Words: 503

" ... Nineteen, Twenty, Twenty-One."

"Are you sure?"

Purnima was having a hard time keeping the excitement out of her voice. Her colleague, Lalit, turned to her and grinned. "Look for yourself," he invited, moving away from the telescope.

"I have looked for myself, remember?" she shot back. "I'm the one who saw them first and asked you to come and verify."

"Oh, that's right. Was I about to take all the credit?"

"You wouldn't do a thing like that. That's why I called you first."

They gazed at each other. Each knew what a big deal this was. Each was trying to absorb the importance of the moment.

"Whom do we tell, now?" Lalit asked, breaking the long silence.

"Gita," Purnima replied.

"Gita? But that means we'll be going over Hemlata's head, and she won't be pleased."

"This is much bigger than who shall or shall not be pleased. Do you realize what has just happened?"

"We've discovered 21 unknown objects in the rings of Saturn, that's what."

"Precisely. Now let's go to Gita's office and bring her straight up here."

"Is she working this late?"

"Astronomers work when the stars and planets are visible. Nothing is early, nothing is late."

Gita was, indeed, at her desk. She climbed up to the highest tower in great excitement. She saw Saturn. She counted the 21 hitherto-undiscovered objects. She made careful calculations. She made notes.

Then, she made phone calls.

Several phone calls. Some to high-up astronomers, who were literally among the stars. Some to those closer to earth. And some to the media.

Within hours, Purnima and Lalit were on all the TV channels. As more and more scientists from more and more countries got on to the story, there were more exciting discoveries made about the properties of the objects Purnima had first glimpsed on that cloudless night. The story continued to nab either the headlines or at least the front page every day.

"It has been 21 days," Purnima said. "Three weeks exactly." She turned the TV off. "That was a re-run of the first interview with you."

"Now I want an interview with you," Lalit told her.

"What?"

"An interview. I ask questions, you answer."

"But you know everything about this discovery."

"Sure. But there are things about you I don't know."

"Like what?"

"Like whether you think I'd make a good husband. Like whether you'd enjoy seeing my face over the coffee cup each morning for the rest of your life. Like whether you think the bread-and-jam I'd cook for you would be a tasty breakfast."

"You don't cook bread-and-jam," she giggled.

"That's all I know how to cook."

"I'll have to teach you, then, I can't eat just bread-and-jam for breakfast for the rest of my life."

He was down on his knees, taking a small jewel box out of his pocket.

The ring was shaped like Saturn. There were 21 tiny diamonds surrounding the planet.

"I can't say no to that, even if it means a lifetime of bread-and-jam."
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