Midnight

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The moon hung low in the bleak, empty sky. Aphotic shadows nibbled away at its frail light. Far below, the land lay sprawled like a weak child, trembling from the icy chill of the abysmal night. Stars ebbed and faded behind the pitch-black cloak that shrouded the heavens, and the pale, tremulous wisps of light that managed to steal through quavered and died before they reach the Earth. The night was afraid. Cleaving a path through the darkness with wings washed white like snow was a young dove. The landscape rushed by, and its keen eyes reflected waving stalks of corn, thriving because of the recent rains. Suddenly, the dove emerged upon a little farmhouse hiding among its crops, and it swept downward and landed lightly on a freshly painted windowsill. Folding its smooth wings, the dove peered inside. A little girlÕs fingers pressed against the pane. Emma leaned against the window and fluttered her eyelashes against the chilly glass. Squealing with joy, she watched the dove ruffle its wings and cock its tiny head curiously. Of course, Emma knew her mother would be upset if she found out how late her youngest daughter was staying up, but the thought of Angela, her older sister, getting married tomorrow was too exciting for the five-year-old to bear. Glancing sideways at the digital clock perched precariously on the corner of her wooden nightstand, Emma grinned and pushed it back so it would be safe and not so near the edge. Seven minutes to midnight. Overcome with joy, Emma skipped away from the window and twirled around in front of the shiny mirror propped up against the wall next to her bed. Her reflection beamed back and smoothed out the folds of its angelic dress. The pearly-white silk had been expensive, but her mother believed that a wedding was a special occasion and the flower girl should be dressed beautifully. The floaty material hugged EmmaÕs body and radiated beams of innocence, purity, and love. Emma was an angel dressed all in white. Suddenly tired, Emma scampered into bed, curled up beneath the worn, dusty covers, and snuggled deep into her pillow. A wave of drowsiness washed over, and her eyelids drooped. Her fingers crept along the folds of her silken dress, and she touched the top of her head, gently stroking the imaginary tiara perched among her wavy, platinum blond curls. The self-proclaimed princess rolled over on her side, and her eyes came to rest upon the digital clock. Five minutes to midnight. EmmaÕs gaze swept past the clock and again caught sight of the window next to her bed. Suddenly, her heart soared up into her throat, and she darted out of bed, eyes shimmering with excitement and lips forming words of awe as she looked up into the sky. Something incredible had happened, a magical something that she couldnÕt understand. Her breath frosted as it hit the glass, but she was feeling too warm and fuzzy inside to care about the cold. The sun had joined the moon in the sky. Scorching tendrils reaching out into the darkness, the sun grew brighter and brighter until it seemed to cast the night away. The shining light reflected in EmmaÕs brilliant blue eyes, and she breathed its power. The moon faded as the sun strengthened and regained control of the sky. Emma had always dreamed that it could be day forever, and now, on the very eve of her sisterÕs marriage, it seemed like her wish had come true. Jumping up in excitement, her eye caught a tiny glimmer of the digital clock on her nightstand. Three minutes to midnight. Emma glanced down suddenly and saw the dove cock its little head at the sun. Leaning down, she whispered softly, as if she were telling a secret, Little dove, dayÕs come early, and I know why! ItÕs going to be the best wedding ever, and the sunÕs come early for my sister!Ó Emma turned her face back to the sun and her lips fell slightly apart as she watched the fiery light fill up her whole view.
The digital clock flickered and died. Spreading its wings, the dove launched itself from EmmaÕs window, gliding away towards darkness. But the sun seemed to be following, illuminating every crevice. The crops felt it coming and seemed to shrivel where they stood. Soaring low among the corn stalks, the dove heard their whispers and swept sideways, keen to escape the mutters. But then its eyes picked up the faint movements of worms, squirming out of the ground, and it heard rabbits thump hurriedly into shelter, and the dove beat its wings faster against the wind. One minute to midnight. As the dove soared over a nearby town, quiet panic broke out. Cars stopped dead in the center of streets, headlights flickering and melting into darkness, and people poked their heads out of windows, eyes wide, staring, and their mouths moved but no sound came, and they were transfixed by the sun. The world seemed to stand still. Somewhere far in the distance, a clock chimed out the time with twelve long, ominous strikes. The dove listened, and looked, and its eyes reflected pure light before the sun filled the world and it was caught forever in the moment, eternally in flight. Midnight.





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