049. One Last Kiss of Sun. Jeff Ronan


Every day I dream of the sun.


Sometimes, I’m on a cool, endless plain suspended in air, the bloody fingernail peeking over, flooding me with heat. Other times, I’m buried within the wet earth then push-push-push, slowly sprouting towards her light. Or I’m forever falling, suspended between planet and star, spinning – whirling – faster and faster as the flames lick my bleached bones clean. Always different. Always wonderfully, deliciously final.



Whichever you blame, no one has seen her through the dead leaf sky in over a century. Most people have never seen her at all, except in pictures and videos. But I, of course, am not most people.


The first time I worked up the courage, I forced myself to wait until noon. I crept out of my cave, papery flesh stretching and snapping back with each step. A gaunt nightmare of muscle and tendon. How long did I death march through the shade before I finally realized she was gone, the sky replaced by a muddy canvas, stretched taut? How long had I stood there, translucent eyelids blinking dumbly? How long had she been gone, without me even noticing that she’d left?


I’ve drowned.

I’ve starved.

Even self-immolated, the closest I’d felt to her in ages.

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve not died.


When you don’t need to breathe, you’d be amazed at the places you can hide. Twenty identical containers, nestled together like fat robins under a rain-swept awning. I didn’t worry when they cracked mine open. I knew they couldn’t see me, buried deep within the grain.


I remained frozen, even after we were loaded onto the ship. How long had I waited? Decades? Centuries? I could wait a bit longer. Ten months until we reach the colony. Ten months until I could feel her again, one last time.


The last time I saw her, walking back home to my cottage against the setting sun, I’d shielded my eyes from her glare. Soon I would welcome her like the old friend she is, inviting her embrace to devour me whole.


Everything starts shaking, and I can hear a booming voice begin the countdown. I slide within the grain as the world reverberates through me.


See you soon, old friend.


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