I hated to do it, but I had to get up and stretch. After sitting for hours I was getting pretty stiff. I was afraid, though I knew he’d forgive me if I missed him. My sister, Martha, gave me a look that was both questioning and understanding. It had been a very long day.
The sky was just beginning to catch the evening fire as I walked out of the back door. I went to the edge of the yard, stopped and watched as the sun dipped towards the lake.
I had forgotten how beautiful it was around Mom and Dad’s house.
Memories of my childhood came back. Playing in the fields just behind my parent’s house. Swims in the lake. Hikes in the hills. I remembered the forts in the woods I made and lazy rainy days watching out of the window.
Dad and I had a major falling out when I was in my early 20s. It was funny, I couldn’t ever remember exactly what it was about, but the resentments lingered. As his sunset years approached, I reached out, tentatively at first. We started to meet over at Martha’s house and last summer he had stayed with me.
But it had been over 35 years since I had been here, to my childhood home.
Martha had called me. I was wanted. No, I was needed. I dropped everything and came as quickly as possible. I had made my peace with Dad in the morning, before it was too late. And then he went to sleep. We all knew he wouldn’t wake again. That is when the waiting began.
The sun had almost dipped into the lake. When I was four, my dad told me that when the sun hit the water, that fire was put out, which is why we had night. I laughed at the memory, laughed through the tears.
The blue of the sky turned sapphire, and then navy. It continued to darken. The stars were struggling, wanting to come out, but too shy for the little light the sun still cast over the land.
Just as the sun disappeared, Martha came out of the house. She didn’t have to say anything, her face told all. I put my arm around her and continued to watch over the lake as the stars were finally unleashed and the sky exploded into millions of brilliant crystals.
As the dark settled over the land, my mind still wandered the dusky area when evening dies, trying to remember that exact second when I inhaled in the day and exhaled at night. I knew I had missed it and couldn’t recapture it, that I would have to accept the night as it was. The stars began to blur, but not from any atmospheric effect.
I turned to Martha and she nodded. We headed indoors, knowing we would only be greeted by the night.
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