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  • Writer's pictureLee Iraheta

holiday lights

On December 5th, 2022, at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, scientists from the US Department of Energy produced 3.15 megajoules of energy from a hydrogen pellet zapped with a laser using only 2.50 megajoules of energy (NPR). If developed correctly, this breakthrough will have monumental impacts on energy production.

In my youth, when journalists still printed their work, my mother had copies delivered to the house just on Sundays to read them after church. I recall when returning from mass one day, the rain forced our windshield wipers to work like mad all the way until we pulled into our driveway. On our shrubbery lay a newspaper copy, wrapped in plastic and drenched in water, that the mailman threw haphazardly. Still, my mother requested I grab the paper from the bushes. I did, swiftly as I could. As I brought it inside, my joints and hair dripped like a broken faucet. I unwrapped it to give to her. The date at the top read December 18th, 2022 and the headline ironically read: “Fusion is 30 years away – and always will be.”

In my old age, the air is finally lighter than it was before. The crops, I hear, no longer suffer from the rains. The old newspaper had been wrong; fusion was fifty years away, rather, and it at last got its grip when I turned seventy. Now I like to take walks in the morning to appreciate what it’s done, and at night again for the same reason. It keeps me in good health. Despite the cold (it’s getting colder— soon the climate will return to what it used to be), my favorite time of the year is Christmas. My neighbors, especially those with elementary school children, built Rome in a day with the wonders they decorate their homes in. Blowup snowmen in their own little narratives, fake reindeers running across the roof, candy canes everywhere like the grass that at once became jolly. But the lights were greater than it all, like stars on Earth’s surface. The house right besides mine is always a joy, with lights strung up to resemble a ferris wheel, bulbs flickering in alternation.

I have no reason to not smile anymore. The season is fueled by genius, not harm, and the science I had never cared for all the sudden fascinates me as it had fascinated my late-wife. She always told me that the day fusion became the primary energy generator was her second favorite one, our wedding was the first; she told me my dress is what brought it to the top, because she’d made it herself. She had loved the lights more than I do, they were hope to her, they were progress, even though they were the same decorations that had sat in a box since 2030.

“They look different,” she’d say, “Everything is different, don’t you think?” I didn’t think so at first, at least not before she passed away. But I see it now, I feel it. When I plug a cord into a wall, plug in my phone, look at my clock, it’s mundane but it reminds me of her, and it makes me happy for the world.

Everything was different from the rainy days of my youth. Cars used fusion, the coal mines were empty, the oil was left undisturbed. What we’d hoped years ago came to light everyday, but on the Holidays it showed its true beauty. The stroll I take tonight I believe will be my last of this season, for I sense in the next year I will join my wife up above, and get the joy of watching the Earth progress from up above, my best friend by my side.


Written by: Lee Iraheta

Edited by: Celine Chiang

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