The Sun, by Colleen Chadwick

And here I sit. I must have come here a thousand times. Will I do it this time? Or will I run like a coward with my tail between my legs. The question is–what has brought me here today? I’m not really sure. Is it just discontent with life, or am I sick of life in general? I’m not sure.  I could just start the car and drive away but, since I’m here.

 The lake is beautiful this time of morning, the water calm and not too many people are around. There is a slight chill in the air, not bad for early June. The last time I tried this it was cold.  What do they say–“bitter cold”? I believe it was twenty-something below zero.  That temperature is pretty normal for a Wisconsin winter day. In those winter months the sun does not come up until much later in the morning and more people are out and about before the sun hits the horizon. I chickened out as I have done all the other times in the past. Maybe today will be different?

            The first time I tried this I was on horseback; automobiles were not invented at that time. Milwaukee was just in her infancy. The city may have had one, maybe two thousand people at most. The landscape looks so different now. I know what brought me there that day. I wanted all of it to end; I could not stand for another minute the thought of what I had become.

 My family consisted of Amish farmers and craftsmen. Something was killing the cattle and since I was the oldest son, and a better hunter than my younger brothers, I stayed with the cattle that night. I tried to conceal myself in the hay stack as best I could with my best rifle at my side. The cattle were startled; something had brought one of them down within yards of me. As I got to my feet, I was thrown back down. The fiend was on me.

The pain scourged on my throat. I tried to fight him off, but he was too strong for me. I felt for my rifle to no avail. I did feel the handle of the shovel my brother broke while playing around earlier in the day. I heaved the handle in the fiend’s back and he was reduced to ashes seconds later.

Distraught, I lay on the hay, trying to compose myself. My heart was thudding hard in my chest. The dust that fell on me was biting my skin; the smell was sickly and pungent. As I felt the chasm at my neck, I blacked out. The next night I woke with a hunger I will never forget.  To this day I am haunted; I am haunted, by the memory. I still hear my blessed mother’s chilling scream from my hideous acts. I could not meet the sun on horseback that day.

Will I meet the sun this day? How the scarlet-ginger light grows against the horizon.  First light looks so much different than twilight. I cannot look away. The burn, I can feel the skin on my face starting to singe, just a few more seconds.  Oh, how magnificent the sun, how I miss its warmth. My flesh feels on the cusp of starting ablaze. Anguish. Will I last longer than last time? Oh the grandeur of the light.  How exquisite. Just another minute.  And here I sit. (Hearing the mechanical sound of the car window rolling up and the car engine starting.)

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