For a lot of people who are roughly my age – which is to say, late thirties – there is a haunting memory of a television show about children in a very bleak place, and an unbelievable act of cruelty that some of them commit. A story about a world where the sun only shines in the sky for one hour every nine years – and about a young girl who is locked in a closet by jealous peers during that precious hour. Ringing any emotional bells?
The story is “All Summer in a Day,” written by the master Ray Bradbury and published originally in 1954. (Here’s a link to the original story, if you’d like to visit/re-visit it.) It’s the story of Margot, a girl who used to live on Earth but has been moved to Venus, where life is a bleak and rainy affair. She’s the only child in her school who remembers what it was like to live with sunlight every day, and they hate her for it – so much so that they lock her up as a spiteful joke.
But as soon as they lock her up, the rain stops, and in their excitement to get outside … well, you get the idea. It’s an emotional suckerpunch of a story – still chokes me up – and I’ve heard a lot of people talk about how it haunts them these many years later. Specifically, they are haunted by a television version made in 1982 for the PBS series “Wonderworks.”
Here’s the show in its entirety, thanks to the wonders of YouTube. It’s the best 30 minutes you will spend today.