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Two planets, hitherto sharing an orbit around 90 million miles from the young sun, had been edging ever closer over the last epoch. They shared a mutual twirling dance while comets rained down upon their parched surfaces, peppering them both with holes and coating them with a thin film of water. Eventually however they got too close, and gravity pulled them inexorably towards a collision, every atom of one planet tugging on every atom of the other one. They hit. Though the smaller of the two bodies crumbled first, the impact tore them both nearly to pieces, churning their centres to the surface and burying parts of their surfaces in the centre of the new merged planet. This planet, not like the two that came before it, was spinning rapidly, so that within mere hours, it had shown its entire surface to the parent star. This was the first full rotation of the planet that beings on its surface would later decide to call the Earth. And though its rotation has slowed down a lot since those early days, this could still be said to be the first true 'day'.

The stately stone of the time machine, safely camouflaged as an asteroid, witnessed this from a comfortable distance, far enough to avoid the red hot debris from the collision, but near enough that the two witnesses aboard could observe the splendour with their own eyes, that of their home planet being born.

One of them, a priest born in 1592 and now in his fifth decade of life, was aghast. God had spoken to him throughout his time on earth, to tell him of how He'd sculpted the world, peopled it with life, given them the gift of free will and thus allowed into it the first evil. But this glowing cinder that loomed in view of the observation deck was terrible, because it was something God had no answer for. It was not simply that it looked like Hell, but the way its formation looked like an accident, that troubled him. There had been no divine hand guiding the two spheres. The first day of creation was over. God should be separating the land from the sea by now, but instead… nothing.

The other inhabitant on this craft, who in spite of wearing men's clothes and having a 'man's name', was female, and knew nothing of God's ways. Her physics education had ended at A-level, but she knew enough about how the earth was formed. She and the old priest had been debating this very fact until she had finally offered to take him back in the time machine to prove it. By now though she had made her point, and would have been about ready to put her hand on the man's shoulder, to console him, as if to say 'sorry about your god.'

But she didn't, not through lack of compassion, but because she too was aghast. She, who had witnessed the earth being born, something she’d only ever seen before in CGI reconstructions, was conflicted in her own way. Because nothing could have prepared her for actually seeing it with her own eyes. And though she knew what would happen next – the tidal pools, the great ice age, the Permian – she wished she could see it all. Because there was something truly awe-inspiring about watching her entire world being forged from its raw materials. More than that, it was almost… divine. And all of a sudden this 'crazy colonial priest' didn't seem so crazy after all.
Hoo boy, I might have managed to offend both Christians and atheists in under 600 words.

This was my (perhaps overly ambitious) response to a (perhaps overly complicated) writing prompt from UoN's Creative Writing Society. Our task was to choose three time periods, and write a story with two characters from each of them in a setting from the third. We were also constrained as to which ones we could choose. I went with the 1630s, 'the Noughties', and of course... Day One.

I haven't used these characters in anything else, but if you'd like to use them yourself, feel free.

Cover image is from UnivEarthS www.univearths.fr/en/i1-format….

Aaaand, a radio reading of this story can be found here for your listening pleasure: www.youtube.com/watch?v=anxwbF…
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