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Red Sun and Orange Wings This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

I sit cross legged in the dirt thinking about what we should do about all of our crops failing. My tattered old copy of “The Odyssey” is carelessly thrown near one of the protruding roots of the twisted, ancient oak tree. Turning around onto my back proves to be too cumbersome so I give up and lay in an awkward heap. My little sister, Alyssa, flounces over to me in her dusty cream dress that was once white. Nothing stays white under the dark red sun of Oklahoma. Everything just seems to blend together until the only colors you have are muddied and worn. Her chubby little baby face is pink from running and her brown little curls are plastered to her head with sweat. The left side of her lip is curled up and looks like a little rose bud. She is breathless and just barely manages to sputter out,” They here!” I sit bolt upright and crane my head to try and see past the gnarled branches of our oak. Pale orange splotches of our once blue sky are barely visible behind all of the dying leaves and hardened branches. I grab my book and Alyssa’s plump little hand and half drag/ half carry her to the top of the barn where we’ve made our very own fort. It’s a shabby old thing that we constructed with our own two hands. It’s our fortress where we can hide away in when pa is drunk and hollerin’ at ma. The roof has holes, the wood is rotting, and our left wall is a rusted old car door with no window but it is our sanctuary. I lift her up onto the rickety brown stool so she can peer out over the decaying board of wood that I had nailed up to make a window. Her little fingers curl up over the edge and her eyes shine with excitement as she whispers,”I see dem Robbie! I see dem! Come ‘ere!” I look over her curly mass of hair and gasp at the rippling sea of orange and black that is in front of me. This is the one thing that Alyssa and I have been looking forward to for months. Every year they come and every year it’s as breathtaking as the year before. I will never get tired of watching these majestic little beauties fly through the dust and heat to make it to wherever they’re going to. Their wings flap noiselessly as they glide through the air. The sky doesn’t look as dull and orange anymore. It looks golden in contrast to all the gorgeous wings that flutter up and down in unsynchronized harmony. Alyssa turns around, stands up on her tiptoes, and reaches up for me to hold her. I pick her up and she wraps her arms around my head and puts her forehead right against mine. Her little eyes are serious. Too serious for someone of her age. She looks into my eyes and says,” Robbie you are the best brother I ever gonna have.” Then she plants a kiss right on my nose and grins like a fool. We turned back and watched all of the butterflies flying low over our cornfield and we stayed there until the sun was swallowed up by the layer of dust.



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