As it Had Risen Yesterday

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Meg’s whisper echoed in my eardrums, “Lets Go.”
Darkness still thick and embracing night, I carried us both up the hill, Meg’s pajama pants and cowboy boots sealed around my hips. The moon glowed above us, but its rays weakened as it gave way to the western sky. Surrounding us, fireflies flickered like vanishing stars. With one hand Meg held a giant jar of cherries, the other hugged my neck, and the warm cloud of her breath felt hot against my cheek. Silence passed between us, the truth that this would be the last time we would make this climb together to watch the sunrise, that a different city awaited her as of this afternoon, that after today we would lose each other. These hours that had been filled with nothing but each other would soon be filled with just nothing.

As we reached the top of the hill, the buzz of dawn commenced and mixed with the hum of our innocent conversation. Having laid Meg on our normal patch, I fell beside her. As I opened the jar of cherries, Meg’s eyes shone eager in the crooked light between night and day.

Elbow-deep in crimson juice, Meg and I dug through our jug of cherries, slurping up the last of the sticky sweets. She held up one by the stem and dangled it between our noses, swinging it back and forth like a pendulum ticking away time. Giggling, she lowered the cherry into her wide mouth; the scarlet sap had dyed her teeth pink. I found myself watching her – shirt full of stains, mouth full of cherries, chest full of heart – and wondered what she sees when she looks at me. I hoped she imagined her hero.

A sliver of the sun appeared on the glowing horizon, and Meg, wide-eyed and awed, watched with fervent apprehension. Seconds slipped away, two minutes passed, then five, and the earth was filled with dawn’s violet light. Clouds slipped out from behind the mask of night, gently cautious in their drift. The stars blurred, the clusters of fireflies lessened, and the night slowly dissolved into day. Above us, the sky seemed blue and endless, as if challenging the horizon.

And then it was over, replaced by loss. The unspoken words thick in our throats, Meg and I fell into silence again. A thousand tangled memories patched themselves in my head, putting together a story that had been shattered into a millions of pieces. Fighting to gain its freedom, my heart pushed against my chest, like two opposing forces in the same battle. I was surprised to look over and see Meg still beside me, tears sliding from cloudy eyes over a pained smile that was about to tear her face, one a child her age should not know. I cried with her, for her, for us both.

A deep breath, my voice cracking through the sadness, and memories became words and broke free, “I’ll miss you.”

She fell into my lap, her sobs silent but quick. Rubbing the small of her back, I watched our tangled shadows grow shorter in the fresh light. Motionless, limp, Meg lay in my arms until she fell asleep, her breathing deep and even again. I combed through her stringy strawberry hair, my touch gentle. Around us, dew shone in tiny drops, like the day was crying too. It was a long while, hours, maybe, before I picked my cousin up in my arms and carried her home; her mother would be worrying.

I woke early the next morning to almost suffocating darkness. Meg’s house belonged to someone else now, but I didn’t care. I walked through the empty hallways to her room, just to make sure she wasn’t waiting. Strangely light without Meg’s weight on my back, I climbed the hill through the darkness, alone, and sat down in our spot without her next to me. Yet the sun rose, as it had risen yesterday and as it would rise tomorrow.





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