Morning Sun

Morning Sun

A Story by Hannah Paige

An excerpt from that infamous novel of mine


He asked if I was happy and I asked what he meant.  “If you have to ask,” he said, “you probably aren’t.”

“Well, are you?” I said, touching his fingertips to my mouth.  I kissed him lightly but he didn’t even shudder. 

He flicked my nose with his thumb and then retracted his hand.  “Yes,” he said, “I have you.”

“That’s an easy answer,” I said.

He leaned into my shoulder.  “Shouldn’t it be?”

We slept like that, his head on my shoulder, his question on the air, until morning.  When I woke up, the sun was low in the sky and his light breaths tickled my ear.  I slid out from under his cheek and sat back so I could see his face.  The rising sun glinted orange off his cheek bones.  He’d always been thin, but god, he looked like he might shatter. 

I tiptoed around his bed to the other side of the white room.  I thought I’d given him a few photographs but there were none on his nightstand.  I slid open the top drawer, careful not to wake him.  Inside, he’s hidden his only possessions, arranged neatly like puzzle pieces.  A ballpoint pen, two paper clips, a box of toothpicks.  A notebook (blank), a red Bic lighter (smuggled in), two menthol cigarettes (also smuggled).  A black and white photograph of a man I didn’t recognize, a pocket bible. 

I lifted the bible like you would a heavy stone, and a pale envelope swan out from under it.  The triangular flap was unsealed; I peered inside " empty.  I turned the envelope over in my hand. The top right corner framed a stamp that featured a tiny painting of the queen of England.  The queen wore a smile like Mona Lisa’s, and I wondered who decided that the royal family was to refined to grin.  The envelope had neither return nor forwarding address " came from nowhere, going nowhere.

His sleepy groan came from the opposite side of the room.  I returned the envelope and shut the drawer, but after a bit of rustling, he fell silent again.  I stood on tiptoes and peered over the bed to see him.  He looked to be sleeping, but you never knew with Luca.

“The sun looks so harmless in the morning,” I said, “soft and big and quiet.”  I could barely hear him breathing, but I could feel him there, feel him listening.  “Sometimes I forget that it’s all just fire… sometimes I forget how dangerous it is.”

I let the silence creep back then, and sank to the floor.  I pulled my legs to my chest, and imagined that he and I sat back to back, but for the mattress between us.  I faced the same white wall here as I had on the other side of the room, but without the window centered in it, the plaster betrayed the room’s hard, medical nature.  It occurred to me how suffocating plainness can be, and I was glad that Luca, at least, had the window to romanticize his circumstances a bit.

“Dangerous but doomed.” He sounded groggy.

“What is?” I said.

“The sun,” he said, “Eventually, it will burn out.  And so what if it’s dangerous, because beyond that, it is doomed.  And that’s what we remember about things.  We remember the ‘but’ phrases.  ‘Small but heavy,’ ‘pretty but stupid,’ ‘charming but ruthless.’  It’s all ‘but something,’ and it’s that something that is what things really are.

“So maybe the sun is dangerous, but really, it is doomed.” He let that last word hang in the air, punctuated by the rays of midmorning sun on the sterile white wall.  “But you could say that about anything, I guess,” he added, with less force than before, “I am Luca, but I am doomed.”

© 2014 Hannah Paige

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I like when words are just descriptive enough to let me visualize the setting, as if I'm in the room. Very good job of achieving that without dragging it out into sterile ramblings.

Posted 6 Years Ago

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1 Review
Added on January 3, 2014
Last Updated on January 3, 2014
Tags: sun, doom, asylum, sad, teen, love, novel


Hannah Paige
Hannah Paige


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