Just below the shuddering, writhing skin of the Sun, an ancient photon was struggling to be born. Since its birth in the teeming, crushing center of the yellow star some tens of thousands of years ago, the small packet of light had relentlessly clawed its way up. From electron to electron it jumped, sometimes falling back, rage suffusing its being as it was shoved this way and that by older and infinitely younger photons, all clamoring, all screaming in utterly small voices, to burst free of their host.

What was it like beyond the borders of their parent, the infant particles would ask each other. It was cold, terribly cold, and dark, too, the older ones would say, dread and excitement coloring their words.

Every layer gained was infinitely cooler than the one that preceded it, and yet the urge, the drive, that universal constant for all beings, drove them upward and onward, electron by electron.

Don’t leave, the atoms whispered, ionic bonds grasping like fingers as the photon shoved its way past. It would not be bound to them for even a plank second longer than needed, not when darkness teased at its being, darkness that begged to be illuminated.

I will not stay; I will break free, it told them, flying forth in a wave, a wave of rejoicing particles that scattered in all directions, buoyed on the solar winds, listening with a keenness the wailing cry of those who remained trapped or were entrapped by its birthplace.

It was a shock, the utter blackness of space. Everything moved so slowly in relation to itself, and yet it was not alone: millions of its siblings, and others too, moved in a graceful arc, some towards shining points of light not too far away. How those rocks and balls of burning gas screamed! The photon raced passed, all its heart set on reaching the edge of everything.

It would travel to the tattered edge of the universe and lend that darkness its light.