Here Comes the Sun: A Short Story
The rabbit wakes, warren-deep in tunnels of earth. One ear raised, a nose twitching. He can smell fur, damp grass, worm and root. He shakes, his tail a quivering white pom-pom, as he follows the tubes until he can smell the air. The sunshine is bright on his face. Too early then, back to bed.
In the back of a car parked just off the highway, a boy wakes, dry-mouthed and confused. A triangle of sky is next to his head. A blazing sun. Power lines stripe the scene, over there a brick-red sandbank. He doesn’t know how he got here, where here is. A dehydration headache makes blinking hurt. The fluid surrounding his brain is all gone. He can feel his frontal lobe bashing against his forehead. His leg is dead, his arm stuck in the side door pocket. Flashes of last night come in waves. Jesus, what a ride. In a five-star Las Vegas hotel room, fifty glass floors up from the ground, an old man wakes with the sun in his eyes, stumbles out of bed to draw the curtains. Well, he tries to, but he cannot find the button to make them work. He scratches his belly, scooped like ice cream. His pyjama suit has lost all its buttons. He can buy another one. He can buy twenty. Can have them made from silk, cashmere, cotton spun with gold. Last night he won more than anyone has ever won at the casino. So much money he can’t count it. He has more money than the desert has sand. People open doors for him and whisper in the ears of bulky men in black suits with subtle gun shapes under their belts. The carpet in his room is so thick. It makes a shushing noise when he walks. What first, he thinks, what first.
By the side of a lake lined with pine trees, a man wakes in the early morning mist to a tug on his line. The sun is stirring herself slowly. Half asleep, he thinks it is his wife, pulling the duvet as she likes to do. Likes to give him her cold shoulder, put her icy feet on his calves. He tugs back, hears the glug. He is not in bed. His tent is pitched haphazardly. At some point he got back up, hunched on his stool. At some point he ate triangle sandwiches and drank his flask of tea. He has waited for this pull, this tension. He knows this fish, can see its mouth plugged around the bait. This is all he has wanted. This is all there is.
A girl wakes in a damp bed. She knows before she peels back the covers what has happened. What will happen next. She curls her toes into her heels. Pushes herself into the sheets, tries to absorb her shame. She’d tried so hard not to sleep, not to let the curtain fall, the nightmares come. But the birds are singing outside her window, the sun is reaching long fingers across the floor. Footsteps land heavy on the tall thin stairs.
A bride-to-be wakes in blush-coloured sheets. Is handed a glass of bubbles by a maid of honour in a green face pack. The blinds are loud as they are wound up, a fat yellow sun is climbing a pink sky. It is not prosecco, she realises, but vitamin C. Another sun, inside a glass. There is so much to get done today. It must all go to plan, each domino in place. Tonight, she will sleep with her husband. His retainer in a glass by his side of the bed. A book she is only pretending to read by hers. Marriage then, till death parts them or something more sinister.
A man wakes in a doorway outside Grand Central Station. The sun is a ghost of herself. The moon doesn’t feel she is ready to be left, and so hangs around, obviously idle. He is covered in newspaper sheets that have blown from the streets. His duvet is damp, the colour of curdled milk. The air smells of coffee and cinnamon and dirty water hot dogs from the corner. There is frost in his hair. He dreams of salted pretzels, dry socks. The sun is trying to dry up the puddles but won’t manage it. His teeth have worn themselves down chattering. He looks into the red solo cup next to him. A couple of quarters and a fortune cookie wrapper.
A twin wakes in a hospital bed. In a bed next to him, his brother sleeps. Everything, the doctor told him, went well. The stem cell transplant was perfect. He has saved someone’s life. He is a hero. His brother is a small shape under white sheets. Wires and monitors and charts. He is sore, his arms hurt. He wants to wake his brother. Wants to show him the sunrise, like God swirled the bathwater of the skies with his big toe. He wonders how he can sleep through the noise of the ward. Squeaky shoes and trolley wheels. Porters and buzzers and beeping doors. He gets out of bed, walks over to his brother. Thinks about his insides, touches his arm. Everything is good.
A badger wakes, dazed and bleeding by the side of the road. His eyes are glazed over with blood. Cars roar past. He tries to move but nothing works. It is light. The orange sun burns. He does not come out at this time, should not be visible in his black and white tuxedo. Panic pants his fur from his ribs. His heart pulses and throbs. He would bite his leg off if he could. The woods are so close. He can smell soil. He can smell the rain coming. A car door slams.
A girl wakes in a dorm room. Her teammates groan and snore. A tiny fart, far over in the corner. Today is the cup final. Today is eight years in the making. Today includes two single hours that will change her life. Outside her window, the sun is the colour of the trophy that she will take home She is filled with bees, with the need to get up and shake the girls beside her. To whip the covers from muscly legs and arms that catch and throw. Snatch pillows from heads that duck and dive. Today has arrived and she feels fine.
A student wakes up, tied to a tree. Morning came while he slept, a pale sherbet sunshine falling like dust on the leaves above him. Diggers come into view, lumbering over the hillside - yellow monsters from a dystopian novel. He shakes the arm of his girlfriend, who is still asleep with her hair over her face. She has never looked more beautiful than this, make-up-free and brave. Together they raise their loudspeakers. The engines are oblivious, keep on moving forward, flattening the grass, churning the earth.
“I won’t move unless you do,” he promises her.
On a forest floor, a Turkish pine wakes, pops open. The fat embryo bursts out of his suit, like buttons off a too small shirt. A radicle arm reaches out, rooking for soil. In a hundred years it will block out the light. Will shelter squirrels and foxes and kissing teenage boys. Will smash the headlights of a car that skidded off the road. Will bear ribbons and photos. Will be climbed by kids wanting to get high. Today it is too small to be seen by the human eye. Too quiet to be heard as it groans in delight, stretches in the morning sun.
In her home, gripping the side of a bathtub she didn’t have time to clean, a woman bears down and delivers her first and last daughter. In a care home overlooking a golf course with grass like a carpet, an old man says goodnight to a photo of his wife for last time.
Five am. delivery boys drop newspapers outside stands and shops. The sun hides in a tangle of clotted cream-coloured clouds. Inside the pages, boys wait trapped in caves, a submarine is lost under the sea, a woman went out to walk her dog and never came home. In the outskirts of London, a teenage boy passes his driving test. In Paris, a bus crashes into the back of car. No one is injured. In Spain, a fishing boat cannot contain the amount of fish in its nets. The sun is melting the ice on the mountains and ice creams in Italy. It is eating the skin of a woman who refuses to wear SPF. It is warming the black fur of the Dauschund who sleeps in a crescent moon shape on a crazy paving patio.
A library is knocked down for car parking space. A flash flood wipes out a field of sheep. A new breakthrough in the treatment for pancreatic cancer is made. Earth receives a message from 10 million miles away via laser beam. A boy hangs from a tree. A girl gets into the wrong car. The fourth attempt at IVF works for a woman about to give up. A fossil is found in the sand proving the existence of a never-before known species of fish. A pub fight goes wrong. A painting sells for sixteen million dollars and all proceeds go to charity.
The sun shines, on the rabbit and the badger and the bride and the boy tied to a tree and the gambler and the cup final trophy girls and the boy by the side of the road who can’t remember where he is or the name of the girl who blew his mind, or where he left his shoes. The sun cracks like an egg over the cancer-free twins and the homeless man in NYC and the fisherman about to land the catfish of his life. It doesn’t matter who they are. Seed or man or soil, the sun comes. It holds the solar system in place, tosses light to the moon that controls the tides. She hangs life together like a million mittens on string, like a row of paper dolls around the world. And tomorrow, no matter how you are feeling, no matter what happens in the news, she will come and do it all again.