JP Fosterson

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Story — Movie Stars and Planets


My short story Movie Stars and Planets has been published in Lit Up. It’s already been selected for distribution by Medium curators in Fiction. Here’s an excerpt:

We got back to Stepan’s from the Wal-Mart, and dumped all the the stuff we’d bought out on the big kitchen island. Ten wooden stakes like you use for garage sale signs, a few nails, glue, tape, markers, a pack of index cards, some sewing pins, a small container of peppercorns, a tiny bag of whole bean coffee, a couple of gumballs from the machines at the store entrance, and a white soccer ball.

I looked it all over.

“Are you going to tell me what we’re doing now?” Kristina asked.

I told her.

“So like an elementary school science project?”

“Yes, exactly,” I said. “Except, no, not really. You remember the other night when I said that Stepan wanted realism, but I thought he might change his mind?”

“No. I wasn’t really paying attention to you.”

“Thanks. Well, what I meant was this: The reality of space is that there’s nothing there to look at. It’s empty. That’s the biggest challenge of shooting realistic films about space. There’s nothing fucking out there.”

“What about all the other planets, and asteroids and comets and things?”

“Hah. You’ll see.” I took out the pack of index cards. “How’s your handwriting?”

“Not bad I guess.”

“Great. Put the names of the Sun and planets on these cards. Print as big as you can. If you screw one up, chuck it and start over. We have like two hundred extra cards.”

While she worked on that, I started working on another set of cards, like signposts. Each one pointing the way from one planet to the nearest others, like this:

⟵(MARS) — (VENUS)⟶

She handed me a pile of cards. Each labeled in neat, angular block letters that would be visible from far off. I rifled through them.

“You forgot Pluto,” I said.

“Pluto’s not a planet.”

“It was a planet when I was a kid. Just make it.”

“But it’s not now.”

“Just make it.”

“It’s not.”

“The name of the script is The Pluto Project.”

“Oh yeah, shit.” She started writing.

While she worked on that, I started laying out the other cards.


I handed her the URINOUS one back.

“Funny,” I said. “C’mon fix it.”

“That’s how they say it.”

“Come on. ur-AY-ness.” I pronounced it the other way to emphasize the spelling.

In a minute she handed me back two cards, giggling: PLUTO — YER ANUS.

“What’re you, in junior high?”

She couldn’t stop giggling.

“Fine.” I put it on the pile with the others.

“No! Give it back, I’ll fix it.”

“Too late, I’m using it. Here, help me get the planets glued on.”