Something I wrote for a close friend and later submitted to a lit-mag.
He closed the door to his modest house, his shoulders hunched with fatigue. Despite the amusement of the day, work was exhausting. Barely managing to get the keys on the table and his shoes off his feet, he dragged himself into bed. Not even bothering with pajamas, he lay down his head to rest.
She threw her purse down, slammed the door, and leaned back against the wall. All the energy drained out of her as the tears slowly began to fall. Crying out, she let the emotion bury her. Slowly, she carried herself to the couch and grabbed a blanket. Wrapping herself up in a bundle of hurt, she drifted off to sleep.
Nothing is more disorienting than closing your eyes and seeing a sunrise. The sun rose slowly, bringing with it a new vibrancy. The trees stretched their branches ever higher, and the slow notes of the birds’ greetings began to ring out. The crystal dew caught the red light of dawn and threw it around, creating a rainbow underneath his feet.
The soft warmth of the rising sun caressing her skin was enough to convince her to open her eyes. Finding herself curled up on the forest floor, she rolled onto her back and gazed up at the cloudy sky. The sounds of the forest, the only sign of life, added to the tranquil silence that absorbed her.
He turned with ease to look behind him at the gently rustled leaves. He found a sight that no painter would ever be able to capture. The mix of quiet stillness projected by her body and the pain shining brightly out of her eyes intrigued him. Being careful to tread lightly on the gold and brown leaves underfoot, he lay down and wrapped his arms around her.
She turned into his embrace, drawing comfort from this second sun. Such kindness was overwhelming. Burying her face in his chest, she almost couldn’t stop the tears from returning. But a single sob wracked her body, startling both of them. The forest creatures, unaware of the emotion contained by this single patch of sunlight, continued on with their simple lives.
He felt the shaking of her body and squeezed tighter. Stroking her cheek, he whispered gently, “Shh. I’m here. I won’t let go. Promise.” He pressed his lips to her forehead, wishing for all the world that he could swallow her now-flowing tears, her overwhelming pain. All thoughts of the beautiful sunrise gone, he thought he saw the forest turn a shade darker. Everything seemed gray, even with the oblivious scurrying of squirrels and the happy chittering of chipmunks.
Her tears streamed faster. The small beads of emotion ran down her face and dripped onto the colorless leaves. Slowly, everything disappeared. The world spiraled inward, leaving only a small remnant of the meadow and a single flower. Its leaves drooped, and its petals yearned for a sun that did not shine. She squeezed her eyes shut, trying to contain the frothing waters of her grief.
He was lost, alone without a paddle, trying to navigate the churning ocean. What could he do but hold her there, in that puddle of gray? Where is the compass that can guide one heart to another? There was no sun to point the way. He would have to look for another source of light.
She was drowning. Waves crashed over her. The rocks in her heart dragged her down to the bottom of the ocean. Her little air was fast escaping, and soon it would be gone.
He turned away from the sky and looked into the waves. He searched amidst the anger and the crushing sadness, looking for hope. There was so much space in her large heart, but presently it was filled with an open ocean, black as night.
She turned her gaze upwards, reaching out for anything she could grasp. Despite the salt in her eyes, she strove to penetrate the darkness.
He could see nothing. The blackness threatened to draw him into its cold embrace, and he began to lean into it. As his face touched the water, he saw a faint glimmer, a small spark of what remained.
Her energy gone, her eyes drifted shut as she relinquished what fight was left in her. As they closed, her eyes caught sight of a dim star.
He dived in, swimming hard, struggling to reach her. She seemed gone, but he could see the light! Each stroke brought him closer, until she was almost within his grasp. She was almost lost to the darkness, but he took hold of her and swam to the surface.
The light now blinded her.
Her spark was now brighter, a reminder of the flames she once had and a precursor of their return.
She opened her eyes and found herself gazing into his. In them she could see the reflected sunrise, bringing color and life to the world around her. Smiling, she stood up and set off in search of a good spot for a bonfire without so much as a glance behind her. The tears were still damp on her cheeks, but they caught the light of the sun and threw rainbows under her feet.