Dedicated to my mother, Eugenia,
my mother’s mother, Ina,
my father’s mother, Galina
and all the parents on Earth

It was the perfect planet, in the perfect world. The mosquitoes never bit. The hot chocolate was always creamy. The snow was sticky (good for snowmen), only fell on holidays, and was never on the road. The parents never yelled. The flowers opened on the same day. People were never late. There was no traffic. Even though there was red light, it was surprisingly short. The fireworks were always beautiful. Children never got more or less than a 100% on a test or quiz or exam or final or anything. Life was perfect. Daniel and Samantha (twins) were the only ones who hated it. They thought that it was false, that it robbed them of part of their free will. They began to share a diary to understand each other. Perfect.

Daniel/ Samantha: Dear Diary, Oct. 6, 2012, Tues.

I — we — want to be human. We don’t want to live in this ‘perfect’ world. There are no nightmares. If we had a nightmare, then we would go to the kitchen, make some hot chocolate, and have some fun. It will be perfect to me.

I’ll prove to Mum that I’m human. I’m a person. I’ll prove it.

One day, Oct. 7 2012, was a test day for each and every school. Everyone, not just the people in P.S. 52, would study on the bus or in the car, everyone would get a 100%. Except for Daniel and Samantha. Samantha started it in the bus on the way to school.

“Dan? I’m not gonna get A+ again. I have to do something to prove I’m not perfect. I won’t get an F… but I won’t get a A+”

“Are you sure? I mean, if you get an A or an A-, then Mum will assume that you made a mistake. You’ll have to get a low score to convince her that you don’t want to be perfect.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll get an A-. We never got less than a A+ so this will startle her.” Said Samantha, leading Daniel of the bus. Daniel had stolen Samantha’s idea.


“Samantha, Daniel, show me your tests. Ladies first.” Regina (Samantha’s and Daniel’s mother) said.

Samantha and Daniel lined up obediently, out of instinct, because, of course, they were perfect, like everything else.
“Well, Samantha. Well, well, well. 19/20, or 95% correct. What happened to the last question, the last 5%?” Regina said quietly. She didn’t show her anger, small and insignificant as it was. Perfection. Silence filled the golden kitchen. Samantha was quiet, filled with terror. She couldn’t talk up to her mother. Fear swallowed her. No no no what did I do no no…

“I’m not — don’t wanna be — perfect?” Samantha mumbled.

“What did you say? Speak up, Sam.” Regina said with a fake smile. Like all other fake smiles, it quickly disappeared, replaced by a frown as Samantha stood silent and still as a stone. Regina tapped her foot…. Daniel held his breath… and Samantha burst.

“I wanted to prove that I wasn’t perfect. I am a human, mum! I want to make mistakes! I want to be normal! I don’t want to be a perfect person, like you. I want to be a person, without adjectives! Do you understand?” Samantha began quietly, but her voice rose as she continued her passionate speech. Regina sighed.

“Sam, we’ve been through this before. No, I don’t understand. I know you want to live with Humans, on Earth. But why? No, not now, Sam, I’ll check Dan’s test first. Dan, please give me your test.”

As Daniel handed over the paper, Samantha cought sight of of a bright red 3/20, 15%. Oh, Dan, what did you do?

However, Daniel answered Reginas questions smoothly, backing up Samantha’s wish to be a person. A human. But Regina didn’t understand. She was too used to everything being perfect. Perfection was impossible. But that was the one thing that nobody — except Daniel and Samantha — understood.

Later, after both Daniel and Samantha finished their homework (everything was correct, of course — perfectly done), they talked the matter over.

“We can’t let Mum know what we actually think, that we didn’t give up.” Dan said.

“Why not? If we keep persisting, she’ll give in or see our point of view.” Sam countered.

“No, she won’t. She’s programed to be perfect, to accept this world. She will only persist in thinking that she loves this. Listen to what’s around you, Sam. The kids never argue, there is never a scuffle, and if a team loses, then the other team never rubs it in. There are no sore losers. The adults? They are never late for work. Mom always make breakfast exactly on time, and we never spill our water.”

“So what do we do? We don’t belong here, you know. We aren’t perfect, or at least we don’t wanna be. I mean, like, look. OH! here, I just said ‘I mean, like, look.’ That isn’t perfect by far. And I’m sure that Mum isn’t — isn’t mother. You know? We just kind of appeared. We need to go home.”

There was a long pause and Daniel drank in what Samantha was saying.

“We were transported to Perfect at birth, and you are saying that Mum — Regina — isn’t our mother and that we were born on Earth. Is that what you are saying?” Daniel asked. Samantha nodded.

“Keep dreaming. But I agree that we don’t belong.” Daniel said with a snort.

“How do we get to Earth?” Samantha asked.

“Use your brain, Sam. No…. use your imagination. What do you think? Looky here. You always put up questions and ‘what ifs’ and I always out ruled them. Except for here. Because I don’t belong, and you don’t and we just feel it. So how do we get to Earth?” Daniel asked. Samantha thought. She began to pace.

“Light! I mean, OK what if Earth and Perfect shared a sun? Not like Earth is a planet that we never noticed, but a world and we are like… perpendicular — No! What is the other word, Dan? You have the math brain.”

“You mean parallel?” Daniel said.

“Yeah, parallel, but light is the only thing that connects us. It’s the only thing that goes fast enough to travel between the worlds. Because there could be like, like a million of these world and only light connects them! What if we ‘hooked ourselves up to light’ and traveled with it?” Samantha asked excitedly. There was a long pause. As Daniel still didn’t answer, Samantha’s excitement faded and her disappointment grew. Dan’s gonna say no.

‘All right. I agree. There is no other way and no way to disprove it. Now I have to figure out how to ‘hook up to light’?” Dan said. It was his turn to pace. Hook up to light… Maybe… what is light made of? Molecules? Which one? If Light and people share some molecules or atoms or things, then maybe those molecules could connect. So what is light made of?


That night, Daniel couldn’t sleep well. He tossed and turned. Samantha’s idea burned in his mind. Daniel squinted at his watch. It was 2:00 am! He sighed, pulled on his bathrobe and crept down the stairs. There was a faint light in the kitchen, and a dark shape was sitting in front of it. Dan shivered and walked inside. A candle was on the table. Samantha was sitting in front of the candle, lost in thought, with a small cup of milk in front of her, on the table. She started as Daniel sat down across from her.

‘Hey… want some milk?” Samantha asked, rubbing her eyes.

“Sure. Do we have any cookies?”

“Only oatmeal ones. Oh, and two oreos left. From the class party.” Samantha answered, setting down a glass of milk for her brother. She paused, then handed him an oreo and an oatmeal cookie. She took one of each for herself, too. It was silent. Then Daniel went into the living room, and took their mother’s laptop from the table. He walked into the kitchen. Samantha leaned over his shoulder, looking at the Wikipedia article he opened. They began to read, and when they finished the article, Daniel ran to get the diary. Samantha, who had the better handwriting, began to scribble down what Daniel told her to.

“Begin with what light is made of. You know.. photons, metal and Electricity.” Dan said.

At 2:45, Samantha had written down all that Daniel had asked her to.

Dear Diary, Oct. 8, 2012, Thurs.

Light is made of particle known as photons, metal, and electricity. A photon has mass. Light’s speed is around 186,282 miles per second. Refraction is when light rays bend while passing through a surface BETWEEN one transparent material (such as water) and another (such as glass or plastic). Refraction is described by Snell’s Law (That we don’t understand, Wiki doesn’t explain things well):

All we know is that N>1 In a transparent substance.

Samantha looked up.

“This is useless. I’m going to bed.” She snapped. Samantha didn’t understand what she had written, and it annoyed her that Daniel obviously got something out of it. Samantha stomped upstairs. Daniel blew out the candle and went to bed. This time, he fell asleep. The next morning, Regina woke up to find her computer on the kitchen table, along with two glasses of milk. But, as Daniel closed the Wikipedia article, Regina didn’t know what they were up to.

Breakfast was silent. Samantha and Daniel drank extra hot chocolate so that they wouldn’t be sleepy but it didn’t help much. Once on the bus, they went to sleep on their seats. It didn’t help much. Their day was a far cry from perfect, though their homework was, like always, perfect.

It was during lunch that Samantha brought up something that has been praying on both of their minds.

“Dan.. this isn’t perfect. Look, we are having a bad day. It’s normal. Like we are on Earth, but everyone else is perfect. This is just weird.”

‘No, it’s not. We broke away from the perfectness, now we just have to go to the un- perfect world. Shut up and leave me alone. I need to eat.”

Actually, Dan trying to check something on his iPod. Though he was asleep, Dan realized something = heat. Or, actually, Light is hot from electricity, and humans produce body heat. Just maybe, humans had electricity. confermned his hypotnuse. So, just maybe, if we can connect our electricity with light and travel with it….. maybe…. Dan was excited. So, body heat. If we go out in the sun, relaxed, then maybe…..


“Ma! I’m done with my homework!” Dan called from his room.

“So’m I!” Samantha yelled.

“Can we please go outside?” Daniel asked as he rushed down the stairs and pulled on his boots, copied by Samantha.

‘Sure! Stay in the back yard! Come back before dark!!” Regina told them. Daniel hardly heard her. He pulled Samantha outside and quickly filled her in. Samantha was elated.

“…. So we imagine that the electricity is pulling us toward Earth?”

“Yeah. OK, ready set go!”

Nothing happened. They tried facing the sun, turning away from the sun, relaxing, not relaxing, all to no avail. Until Daniel froze.

“I’m an idiot. We need more electricity. Let’s go inside and try a flashlight. That’s bound to work!”

“Fine. I’ll point a flashlight at you and you’ll point a flashlight at me.”

“Let’s do it outside. More light combined. Hold up, I’ll get the flashlights.” Daniel said and he was off.

Samantha was trembling. In a little while she would be on Earth! But — but what if it didn’t work? Then what? They would live in disappointment? Daniel returned, handed Samantha his flashlight and took hers.
“When I say go, point the flashlight at me and turn it on. OK?” Samantha asked. Daniel nodded.

“Ready… set….. GO!!!”

There was a flash of light…. and they disappeared. Regina never saw her children again. And yet, she didn’t know she had children. Because the world was perfect, everyone simply forgot Samantha and Daniel. And all traces of evidence — let alone evidence itself — disappeared.

Meanwhile, on Earth….

Daniel and Samantha appeared in someones backyard. It was snowing. A golden light spilled through the window. Daniel and Samantha crept up close, hoping to hear what the people (A father and his son) were saying. The father was scolding the son.

“Augh! After all of the practice sessions, the flash cards, everything, you get an 90% correct! Disgraceful!” The father sight. The little boy — barely ten — sniffled. Then the father shook his head. Daniel and Samantha looked at each other and smiled. They knew what the father was going to say. Something like “Don’t worry, at least we have each other”, or “I love you. We’ll do better next time”, or “There’ll be another chance. I love you, and I’m sorry for yelling at you.” Or something like that. But the father said none of that.

“If only you were a drop better… I’m not asking you to be perfect, but if only you were a drop better….”

Anna Steingold, Age 12, Grade 7, Homeschooled, Silver Key

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