This is another piece I entered in a flash fiction contest.
by: C. Alise Johnson
Just before I returned to the company of Trevor, the eight year old I was babysitting, I peaked through the kitchen window into the backyard. I saw him seated on the edge of the trampoline letting his legs swing freely, with his plump face directed toward the sky. I agreed to watch the kid for the promise of a hundred-dollar bill that would be slapped in the palm of my itchy hand. Rumors of Trevor’s habit to cause trouble were confirmed when his parents reminded me not to leave him alone.
Perhaps that is why the view from the kitchen surprised me. I never usually accepted invitations to babysit, but these people had a reputation of coming home pretty sauced up and dishing out large rewards to anyone who could keep Trevor from causing trouble. I treaded across the lawn to give Trevor some lemonade I made but as I got to the trampoline, he didn’t seem to care. I stopped adjacent to his juvenile figure and handed him a glass of summer’s favorite beverage only to have him ignore my offering.
“Trevor, here, take it,” I commanded. He ignored my authoritative offering. I rolled my eyes and looked at my phone for the time. 7:36, damn, six more hours, I thought.
I let a few moments pass before releasing a sigh and joining the eight-year old on the trampoline. I tilted my head and looked at the profile of his face to see his dreamy blue eyes map out something in the horizon. I followed his line of sight and looked at the sky for myself, expecting to see a hawk, or a squirrel in the trees. I saw nothing, but as soon as I looked at the same thing that held Trevor’s attention captive, he ended his spell of silence saying, “Wonderful, right?”
“What,” was my involuntary response.
All the colors seemed to rush to the visual receptors in my brain at once, and I understood why Trevor was so mesmerized. I felt ashamed that I had been so blind to this view and all it’s radiance.
“It’s perfect,” I said with a sense of awe in my voice.
“You’re perfect,” Trevor told me. A cordial smile spread across my face. I felt a warm rush flow into my checks as the red color exaggerated my reception of his affection.
“That was very kind,” I replied. I think the last time anyone called me “perfect” was my mom when she retold stories of my infancy. I guess youth is the time in life when you lose your perfection, and you spend the rest of your life trying to get it back.
“What do you think is more beautiful, sunrise or sunset?” He asked, not looking away from the spectacle in the sky. My peripheral vision caught his quizzical face.
“I think both of the sun’s salutations have intrinsic qualities to them.” I said.
“Huh?” I had forgotten for a moment that I was speaking with a little boy.
“The sun greets us with a savory hello, and a sweet goodbye. Both are beautiful.” I answered.
He pondered that for a moment. We sat in silence until the sun made its departure complete. I checked my phone again and saw that it was 8:32.
“Now that the sun has gone to bed, it’s time you do the same.”
“Okay,” he said and leaped down from the trampoline. He reached out for my hand and we sauntered back to the house.
As he changed into his pajamas, I prepared his toothbrush. As he brushed his teeth, I stood in the frame of the door reminiscing the view of the sunset that was stained in my mind. Trevor flicked the light switch off which snapped me back to the present. He skipped into his train-themed bedroom with me following not far behind.
I tenderly wrapped him in his blankets and our eyes locked. For a moment, I felt this eight-year old boy look right through me. As we stared into each other’s eyes, I felt I was looking at the past, present, and future all at once.
“Does your mom tell you a story before you go to sleep?” I asked
“No, but you can if you want.”
Without hesitation, I began, “There was once a girl, not too much older than you, who was very happy. Her parents loved her very much and she had all she ever wanted. Then one day, a witch cast a spell on her taking away her vision. The girl was forced to go through many years of her life blind. She could no longer see her loving parents, her cherished toys, and worst of all, she couldn’t see the sun anymore.”
“Why did the witch make her blind?” Trevor asked.
“Every once in a while, a child would receive that evil spell.” I answered.
“So what happens next?”
“One day, many years later, a prince, much younger than the girl looked into her eyes. When he saw there was nothing there, he was frightened. He took her hand and walked her to the top of a hill and begged the sun to lift the curse off the poor girl. The sun used all the power she could muster to help the girl. When the prince told the girl to open her eyes, she was overcome with joy from the view. The sun was exhausted, but it was enough to lift the curse.” I said.
“So the girl was healed because the prince helped her?” Trevor asked me.
“Without the prince’s help, she would have continued to walk under the sun in darkness.”
“So sunsets are more beautiful than sunrises?” he said.
“They are equal in beauty. Sunsets and sunrises are both the start to something new, and a reminder of the past.” I spoke with a dreamy voice.
“I like that story, it has a happy ending,” Trevor said.
“Goodnight, Trevor.” I said and left, hitting the light switch.