By the time I step outside, the leaves are on fire. Well, they might as well be. The wind comes alive and sends swirls of crimsons, oranges, yellows and golds dancing through the air like flames. A fitting description—for me, the cool, crisp autumn days are nothing short of hell.
Suddenly, a thick, cool grey mass obscures my vision. I glare in frustration, trying to break through its dense, watery coat with a beam of warmth, but to no avail. My rays become faint and diluted, powerless against the heavy clumps that have built a seemingly everlasting empire in the sky.
The day drags on, and I struggle to catch a glimpse of as much of it as I can, before I am muffled, suppressed, hidden once again by that impenetrable pearl-grey wall. I sigh, reminding myself to be patient. Wait for twilight, I tell myself. At twilight, everything will change, and for a little while, autumn will belong to you.
The wind picks up, now, whispering through the air and rustling the branches, and to some it may sound peaceful, but to me, it’s a constant, taunting whistle. A reminder of how I have failed. I have failed my people, who now seek warmth in sweaters, scarves, drinks, bonfires, because I am no longer there for them. I have failed the animals, who are forced to scrounge for food and prepare to fly south because they know if my presence seems scarce now, I may as well not exist during the coming winter.
Wait for twilight. The words have become a refrain, and I repeat them over and over again, forcing myself to remain still, knowing that this is what Mother Nature wants. But my fiery disposition is straining to hold back. I know my strength, and I know how much power I hold, yet here, smothered beneath an endless expanse of grey, I’m suffocating. Helpless.
Stop, a voice inside tells me, you want to serve your people—tell me, what have they ever done for you? You think they look up to you, but they don’t. You think they respect you, but they don’t. You think the love you…but they don’t.
That isn’t true, I protest, The ancient Egyptians worship me as Ra. The Ancient Greeks know me as Apollo. Even the rooster wakes the entire world to let them know I’m here.
But the voice is not deterred. Perhaps. But they never truly look at you. They bask in your warmth and complain when you are gone, but still, they do not look.
A deep feeling of dread courses through me—I know this voice. This is the voice of the part of me that’s deadly, the part of me that lives to burn and destroy. This is the part of me that melted Icarus’s wings.
I want to defend my people, defend Mother Nature, for this is what she created me to be. But I remember during summer, when I reigned the skies day after day after day. My people…they wore hats and shielded themselves from me with umbrellas, and sought refuge in the shade provided by trees and buildings. When have they ever looked at me for what I am?
On the days you are stifled, the awful voice continues, and it sounds…amused. Mocking. As if it’s laughing at me. They protest, but when you are strong, what do they do? They hide from you. Why do you keep telling yourself to wait for twilight? Because they never look at you until you are about to leave. Only then do they gaze upon you in awe, and in your beauty all they can do is wonder how they have never seen you before.
But that is when I am the most powerful, I think, who wouldn’t stare then? I am pure, and I am—
Pure? The voice cackles disdainfully. They build factories and send plumes of smoke wafting into the sky. You, my dear, are many things, but they have taken away your purity. Their respect means nothing.
No! I love them, I do, I insist, but to my horror, I start to wonder…have I been wrong about my people? Do they truly love me, or has the voice been right about them all along?
Just wait, I assure myself desperately, If you wait for twilight, then you’ll see.
The sky clears suddenly, and I glow desperately, needing to prove myself. I show my face and watch as the earth warms and brightens because of me. I did this. This is what I do every day, and I am beautiful.
Then the sky darkens. No! I scream desperately, but they are closing in, and I am hidden from the world once more, with only the promise of twilight to fuel the last flicker of hope I have inside.
You see, the voice sneers, even Mother Nature is against you. She created you to be a star, a star that can’t even be seen at night. And now…now even in the day, you remain invisible. Worthless.
Stop it! I cry, no, I am here. Right here! I will emerge soon, and the world will thank me when I do.
The voice goes silent, but I know it won’t remain that way for long. It never does.
Suddenly, I feel it. A sinking sensation, and I know I am descending at last. This is my time, and I know the voice wouldn’t dare to return now. My face breaks into a smile as I plunge beneath the clouds, finally illuminating the world in a seemingly eternal brightness. This is it, I tell myself giddily, this is what I have been waiting for.
I continue my descent, and already I feel myself changing, transforming from orange to tangerine to lemon yellow, soaking the sky in blood-red hues. The clouds blush in my presence, and I glow brilliantly as I slowly, ever so slowly, begin to disappear beneath the horizon. The sky turns pink and rosy, a soft, golden glow, and here…here, is twilight.
How do I know? Because at twilight, they finally see me for what I am. They see me, and gaze in awe as my power illuminates the sky like a beacon, a symbol of universal beauty and light. At twilight, the sky becomes my canvas. I transform the clouds. Their dull grey coats will fall away, only to be replaced with soft shades of goldenrod stained with a touch of rose, swirls of deep violet colliding with the palest of blues, creating a pastel cosmos stretching from the horizon to the furthest point the eye can see and beyond.
And then I slowly withdraw, one star setting that gives way to a thousand others. And at last…at last, everyone stops and stares and manages to find an escape from their busy lives, and they remember that the earth revolves not around them, but around me. For I am what gives them life. I am the Sun.