Sunsets on Mars


“Not again,” He saw the ignition begin behind her eyes. 

“God’s an amazing artist,” she said, gathering her righteous energies to spring into the “do you know Jesus? speech”. 

“I just said I’d seen a sunset as though it were for the first time. Don’t make this all about you.”

“But.. “

“No. Just don’t. I was trying to tell you something, and you were about to use my pain to evangelize. It’s selfish. It’s unworthy of you.”

“I don’t under…. “

“What I was trying to share with you was that I had gone out and it suddenly hit me that this was really the first time on my own. As though I’d just been released from the hospital. It was just to get a simple haircut!.

“But the whole time I was out, when I was parking in the garage, walking to the salon, I felt as though I’d never done any of it before. I’d passed that corner thousands of times, but it was suddenly totally new. I felt shaky and anxious, exposed. There was something different about this, something I hadn’t done since one Sunday at 8:22 in the morning. When the sun was up and the day was going to be normal, somewhere.“

“Since the morning she died. It was ok to say that now. It wasn’t, for the longest time. I felt as though I was a stranger occupying my brain. I didn’t know who I was changing into. But I got through it, and actually had a good time talking with the hair stylist. She was easy to talk to, and we talked about her father dying and her mother coping. 

“That’s all that I was trying to share.   

“There was only one person in this whole world I’d allowed to have a real say in how I lived my life. She was my left lung. My legs. My eyes. She was not perfect—anything but, nor was I— but she was my heart. My best friend. And she’s gone. I’m a stranger to myself. I went out to get a haircut and saw a painted sunset as though it was the first one since landing on Mars. The only person I had always shared sunsets with, and haircuts and feeling strange and wondering about how things seemed to them, is gone.

“It’s not that everything’s gone, though. I have all of the years stored up here,” tapping his temple. “But the ongoing parts, the dependability of that.. well, I have to learn a new way to breathe, and walk. And see.  

“And, well…. I don’t know how I should feel about sunsets.”

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