During a total solar eclipse—a
phase known as totality—the Moon lies in a straight line between
the Sun and the Earth, blocking sunlight from the Earth completely.
It is only then that the magnificent corona of the Sun is visible
around the Moon’s shadow. Striking as it is, totality only has a
maximum duration of 7.5 minutes.
One step further. Two steps
He likes the feeling of the
gritty dirt under his cold, bare feet. It feels natural. Primitive.
Almost buoyant. He can taste the freedom, waiting patiently,
lingering for his proximity, over the ledge.
Behind him, far away, he can
hear a myriad of sounds. Shrill and unpleasant sounds echoing in his
ears. Is it the birds crowing? Is it the trail of traffic? Or is it…
Icarus. It sounds vaguely
familiar. He takes another step forward, and a sharp scream follows,
punctuating the divine silence surrounding his world. His toes tap
softly, as though counting, counting the time for the beings behind
him to come close enough.
One. Two. Three.
He turns around. Four people,
gasping and panting, panicked and stunned. A man, a woman, a young
lady, a teenage boy. They halt in their tracks, and he cannot help
but smile. He imagines an invisible dome isolating himself from
them, and in his mind their hands touch the surface of the barrier,
rippling upon contact like an aqueous wall. Impenetrable.
High above him, far away, an
unsolicited shadow peeks around the sun, kissing its edge, tainting
it—and the air around it—a contrasting black. A phenomenal
process, progressing, unseen, unheard by the rest of the world.
A dying breath.
“Icarus! Please!” The
woman speaks, her voice wavering, her haphazard ponytail whipping
about in the wind, her arms outstretched towards him. But never
across the bubble. “Don’t do anything stupid… Icarus!”
She reminds him of the face he
used to see in the mirror, the mirror that frequented his morning
memories before he added a spider web decoration to it. He tilts his
head to one side, slightly, and remembers who she is. He smiles at
her again, but she only bursts out in shuddering sobs and shakes her
“Icarus, don’t smile like
that… it’s scaring me. I’m sorry… I’m so sorry,” she
weeps wretchedly. “I shouldn’t have been so demanding of you,
Icarus. I know it’s my fault you almost had a breakdown. It’s
all my fault!”
At the little outburst she
starts crying all over again. The man holds her back and she sobs
even more, straining to get closer to her son. The boy draws back
slightly. Edges closer to the drop. Stares at her hands. Imagines
the tool she used to hold in them.
“I’m sorry…” she
repeats. “I didn’t know I would pressurize you like this… I
just wanted you to be a better person, Icarus, but I didn’t expect
things to…” And she collapses, helpless, into the man’s arms.
In his mind’s eye the tool
begins to take shape: a huge sack. A huge drawstring bag. Trapping
him inside. Suffocating him. Raining down demands, expectations,
unfulfilled wishes—you’re my only child, Icarus. I want you to
succeed in life, Icarus. I don’t want you to end up like me,
Icarus. I just wish for you to work hard and get a good job in
future, Icarus. Is that too much I’m asking for, Icarus? Why do
you disappoint me time and again, Icarus? Why can’t you just make
me proud of you for once, Icarus—
What about me, mother?
Around him, far away, the
world comes to a halt. No more do the birds crow; no more does the
traffic scream. High in the heavens the black disc races across the
glaring sun, and the sky darkens. The animals think it is dusk. The
humans think it is Armageddon.