His Last Picture This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

He was on his deathbed when he asked me to tell him about a sunset. He was blind, and his last, dying wish was to see. But how to tell a man, one who had never seen the color red, or orange, or yellow, about a sunset? I began haltingly, pausing as I searched for the right words.

“A sunset isn’t about the colors; it’s about the people who see it. A sunset is a collection of brief moments, snapshots, taken from everyone’s lives. Every picture has its place in the sky’s canvas, and it tells a story. There’s the picture of the young couple sharing their first kiss under the sunset, each nervous, and scared, and in love. There is the couple long since married, now wrinkled and grey who share a porch swing and stare at the slowly darkening sky. There is the photograph of the mother calling her son, face dirty and streaked from playing, to come in because it’s getting dark out. There is the artist who has waited all day for this moment, and is trying to capture it on his canvas before it’s gone.”

I paused for a moment, searching for the right words, and then continued. “All these pictures become reflected in the sky when the sun’s going down. You can’t see them with your eyes, but you still know that they’re there. A sunset is different for everyone. It burns with romance for those in love, it becomes a healing balm for those in need of soothing, and rocks heavy eyelids to sleep. But… it’s fast. Only a few minutes, and then the horizon swallows all those pictures and feelings. Within seconds, they vanish into the ever deepening twilight. Sunsets are the end. They’re the last chapter of the day. You try to stretch out the pleasure, read them as long as you can, but they still end up going. The chapter ends, the book ends, and its over. Well, no, not really. It’s over for that day, but there’s still that hope a sunset brings, the hope that the next day will be just as good, and the next, and the next. A sunset is not the end of something. It’s just a… a… pause. A sunset is the one moment when the whole world pauses and takes a deep breath. People stop hurrying around and just look. Lives are paused just long enough for some ethereal artist to snap a picture of every moment and put it into the collage that we call a sunset.”

I stopped and looked at him. His eyes were staring at a point above my shoulder, and he seemed to be looking at something I couldn’t see. He smiled.

“I think I see it now,” he whispered. He breathed in once more and then lay still. He had died, but not before he had finally seen his first sunset.





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