“Eclipse” by Alexander Sheldon

There were no clouds in the sky; the air felt empty but heavy. Brimming with condensed nothingness. Bloated expectation.

“Or, it’s just this heat.”

The thought fell out like a deflated balloon, emitting a flat, softly shrill squeak. The boy sitting on the grass didn’t respond to the noise. His legs lay flat, sprawled in a wide V-shape which jerked up as his back arched in a pose undoubtedly strenuous. His mouth hung open as he stared into what might have been the oak silhouetting the left side of my head, or the empty space around it, or withering grass behind and below it.

I put a hand to my forehead and looked up. Cicadas chirped, and water ran in rivulets down my neck. The sun shone angrily as it shriveled, pressing strands of dark hair onto the boy’s forehead. He closed his eyes as they began to fill with water, then whipped his head to the side. Strands flicked every which way, as beads of water scattered in the dry grass. I turned my head and met the gaze that trained onto my face at the moment the sun died.

I thought about how I expected something more; some sort of emotion brimming to the surface, and swimming through me, flowing out in color, against the darkness. But it wasn’t that dark. I turned from him. I walked a few steps and sat down. The wooden steps on the porch felt cool, and the sky enveloped the dirty white walls in a soft overcast hue. The change was lurid, sharp like the brightness of the midday sun when you haven’t slept the previous night, and your brain registers time and light and reality in discoordinated serial chunks. Similar, but opposite.

I had the glasses his father had lent me, some cheap plastic lenses. I looked up. It took me a few seconds to make out anything through the blue-black tint, yet I could eventually see a small orange circle nearly covered by a white circle. I jerked my head downward, letting the glasses fall into the grass I had walked back toward while peering through the lenses.

A lurid, sharp, piercing feeling was alright, to me.

I stuffed my face into the grass and breathed; my body softly crumpled. I continuing inhaling the earthy, nonsmell of grass, waiting for the sound of fading footsteps before allowing my eyes to sweep lazily across the field. The grass began to take on a brighter, more vibrant tone, and then I could feel the sun slipping through and then breaking past the moon’s cover. The porch seemed more real at that moment. I wondered how long the impression would last, as I picked myself up and began walking back toward the house.