Very loosely based on the short story A Sign in Space from the collection Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino. Also features Primo Levi, another great Italian writer.

I doubt any would argue that if old Qfwfq hadn’t enticed Italo to the SMACS 0723 galaxy cluster, or if Italo, enchanted by the privacy and the views, had not convinced Primo to join him, none of this would have transpired. But these events did transpire and the three set up house together.

House is perhaps generous, since it was more a shelter, possibly even a rest stop.  Whatever it was, they considered it quite comfortable and, being disembodied, does one really require a dwelling?  Of course in Heaven there were so many mansions, each more fabulous than the other.  But Heaven had become a bore after 30-ish years, and so it wasn’t altogether surprising the two departed that lovely yet unchanging place in search of adventure.

And what an adventure it was!  Primo spent hours mining novel elements never seen on earth, constructing a cosmic Periodic Table.  Qfwfq recounted stories of life before the Big Bang, which Italo transcribed in characteristic comic form.  For ten years they lived in busy harmony.

Primo noticed it first, approaching from the direction of earth, over 4 billion light years away.  If he squinted he could just make out the yellow face of a video game character.  Italo rushed over in response to his cry, both standing in silent amazement as Qfwfq launched himself into space holding a large sign.

Finally the old man returned.  “Well,” he said, “good thing I made a sign of this galaxy 4.6 billion years ago.  Otherwise that thing would have transmitted our pictures back to earth.”  He mimicked holding the image before the telescope.

One hundred years later, when the Webb Telescope was retrieved to earth, scientists were astonished to find a large sticker attached - a sticker with one word.


Submitted: August 23, 2022

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Add Your Comments:


Guenevere Lee

This is really cute, gave me a chuckle at the end. Good little story :)

Tue, December 6th, 2022 3:29pm


Thank you! I hope you can read A Sign in Space by Italo Calvino. It will fill in my story and, of course, I love Calvino.

Tue, December 6th, 2022 1:09pm


So many cultural references in your story... I can't keep up! And congratulations, a great result!

Sat, December 10th, 2022 7:26pm


Thanks Adam! Nice to hear from you. I hope you're working on more great stories. I'm deep into Calvino these days along with Korean American poet and MD, Mah Chonggi.

Sun, December 11th, 2022 10:34am


So clever! Love it! Congrats!

Sun, December 18th, 2022 1:03am


Thank you!!

Wed, December 21st, 2022 12:29pm

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