As Clear as the Sun Speaks

Submitted into Contest #39 in response to: One day, the sun rose in the west and set in the east.... view prompt


Fantasy Teens & Young Adult Romance

6:00 am, Lookout Mountain, Golden, Colorado.

One dark, dewy Colorado morning, a group of campers emerged early from their tents for their anticipated sunrise hike, organized by their group leader, Cathy. Cathy inhaled the  cool morning air with tingling satisfaction. To her, there was nothing better than this. The wet morning air was way better than the first cup of coffee. 

As her yawning crew of eight got itself all together, she smiled cheerily and quietly said to them all, 

“Good morning! I hope you all slept well last night. We’re going to hike to this cliff right here,” She pointed, everyone's eyes following to a cliff on the east face of the mountain. “And then we are going to watch the sunrise before we get to breakfast. Everyone ready?”

The group nodded collectively, some more enthusiastically than others, and soon they were on their way. They became more alert as they climbed the side of Lookout Mountain, wide-eyed as they experienced the gentle sounds of nature’s morning song. As they arrived with Cathy on her chosen cliff, she checked her watch and was satisfied to find that they had made it on time, and that the sun would rise in the next five minutes. Turning to her group, she whispered,

“Get comfortable! Sunrise starts in five minutes!” As everyone huddled together to keep warm until the sun arrived, Cathy found a nice spot a little aways from them and eagerly set her eyes on the horizon. She felt these moments to be meditative, and while her companions might prefer to sit together, she felt there was something special about feeling the chilly air turn warm in the rosy glow of Earth’s star. 

Five minutes passed. The area around them seemed to grow lighter, but the sun was not yet visible. Cathy looked up in the sky, a little confused. Could it be too cloudy to spot a sunrise? No, she had checked the weather in the area, and there definitely weren’t any clouds above them. Maybe the sunrise was later than the forecast had anticipated.

Fifteen minutes passed. Cathy felt the air around her start to get warm, and she was grateful for it. But she was a little unsatisfied. She still couldn’t see the sun on the horizon in front of her. Then, she heard a gasp from one of the women behind her.

“Look!” Turning around, she was shocked to see the sun right behind them, continuing to rise into the sky. She took out her phone and rechecked the compass. The cliff they were on was facing east, which meant, somehow, the sun was rising from the west.

9:00 am, Palo Alto, California

Enrique, two states away from Cathy and her hiking crew, did not wake up early enough to see the sunrise. In fact, he barely woke up early enough to be on time for his job. He spent the fifteen minutes he had in his morning trying to find clean clothes in his messy apartment, brushing his teeth, and stuffing a plain untoasted bagel into his mouth before longboarding his way to work. 

At work, his busy morning got busier, as everyone stopped by the barrio coffee shop on their daily commute to work, and it was tough to catch a break when orders needed to be filled. reallyWhen the workflow finally trickled into a lull, he spent some time chatting with his coworker, Isla. 

Enrique really liked Isla. Mornings with her were more bearable than others, which was why he tried his best to schedule his shifts with her. She was pretty, her bow-and-arrow lips stretching from ear to ear as she excitedly told him about the newest thing she’d learned that day, her large, kitschy earrings flashing like her beautiful brown eyes. Today her earrings were turquoise painted with orange dots. Enrique loved the wrestler mask earrings she would wear during WWE season, or some of the pretty hand-beaded ones she bought at craft stalls. For special occasions, she would wear a pair of cherry earrings, and when Enrique thought about asking her out he would think about those earrings and blush. They were truly his favorite pair, and he often wondered if one day she would wear them for him.

Today, Isla’s face flushed with excitement as she told Enrique her news. 

“Did you hear? The sun rose in the west today! They’ve never seen anything like it!”

“What? No way. The sun’s been doing it’s thing in the east for millenia! It can’t just change its habits like that.” Enrique laughed.

“You would think, but NASA even confirmed it on the news! They had satellite footage and everything. They predict it’s only for today, but who knows? The way the world works may change because of this! And it’s only the first day! Isn’t that so special?” Isla exclaimed, beaming at him. Enrique beamed back at her, shrugging. 

“Y’know I guess it is very special. Does that mean it’s setting in the east today instead of rising in it?” He asked. Isla nodded.

“That’s what the weathermen are saying. Hey, a bunch of us are getting together after work to go to the Foothills and watch the sunset. You could join us! It’s gonna be a great big party to celebrate the world possibly changing and all that. You wanna come?” Enrique’s heart beat faster. Pretty Isla was asking him if he wanted to watch the sunset. With her! If the world was changing and Isla was the one asking him out, then today must be really special.

“Absolutely! I get off my shift at five, but I’ll be there! When does the sun set?”

“I think they predicted it to set around 7:30, so we’re gonna be at the park around 7. Don’t be too late!” Isla said before returning to the kitchen.

“I won’t!” Enrique called after her, hoping she didn’t see his ears burning with delight.

3:30 pm, a small adobe house in Palo Alto, California

Being one of the pastry cooks for the coffee shop meant that since Isla got to work early, she also got off of work early. Today, she was off early enough to fret about her party with Enrique that night. In her small childhood bedroom, Isla rummaged through her closet, barely glancing at the outfits as she muttered worriedly to herself.

“What was I thinking? What if he doesn’t like my friends? We don’t really know each other outside of work. What if we get there, and it’s all awkward, and we have nothing to talk about?” 

Her mom, walking past with a laundry basket and, noticing her daughter frantically throwing clothes, stopped, and said,

Mija, you need me to do some laundry? I’ve got the basket right here.” Isla groaned in frustration.

“No, no laundry. I just can’t figure out what to wear.” 

“To what?”

“I’m going out with a group of friends to watch the sunset. Remember, it sets en el oeste today? And I invited Enrique, and I can’t figure out what to wear!” 

“Oh chica, you have some nice dresses you could wear! Or you could rummage through my closet if you wanted something más caliente.” her mother said, giving her a little wink.

Ayy mamí noooooo!”  Isla wailed, flopping on her bed and burying her face in her pillow with embarrassment. Hearing her cry, Isla’s father appeared in the doorway, surveying the mess of outfits.

“What’s all this?”

“Isla’s invited su enamorado to her fiesta tonight, and she can’t figure out what to wear.” 

“Aaaaah. Is this about that Enrique? Kind of a pretty boy, isn’t he?” He asked.

“Very pretty.” Isla’s mom nodded. Isla made another sound of disgust and frustration at her mother. Her father returned his attention to her and smiled.

  “Mijita, su enamorado is going to love whatever you wear. Wear what you feel comfortable in, and don’t do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable.” 

“Also red is a good color for meeting boys. It’s very lucky, and distracting. Especially on the night of your special sunset!” Isla’s mom added. Isla groaned again, and both parents finally left her alone. 

When the coast was clear, Isla lifted her head and stared vacantly at the mess around her room. Maybe her mom was right about the color red, but she didn’t want to wear too much. Then, she spied her yellow dress tossed next to a pair of red flats, and knew immediately what she wanted to do.

She only hoped her date would be as interesting as her look.

5:30 pm, Bodega Square in Palo Alto, California. 

Enrique had just exited a flower shop in a shopping center that Palo Alto called ‘Bodega Square’, with a bouquet of sunflowers, and was now strolling down the street. As he walked past the shops and corner-stalls, he window-shopped for something else Isla might like. Something that showed her that he cared about her, and would like to take their friendship further. 

As he was about to leave, he happened upon a very small shop, run by an ancient looking man. The shop stand was no higher than Enrique’s knee, and he couldn’t help but notice the flash of the gold jewelry, all made with the same enchanting orange stone. Immediately, Enrique knew he had to get something for Isla. 

“Excuse me,” he asked the man, squatting so as not to talk down to him. “What kind of stone is this?”

“Ah! This is called a sunstone! It is a very lucky gem, especially on days like these!” The man cried with enthusiasm, waving his arms to draw attention to the jewelry. His accent was unfamiliar to Enrique, but it all made for a very engaging conversation.

“Is there a piece you would recommend? I’m thinking about getting something for a girl I’m seeing tonight.” Enrique asked

“Ooooooh for a girl! Well you could do a necklace, but honestly, every girl gets a necklace, and eventually it becomes just another trinket. Here is something truly special.” The man said, turning around in his small shop for the item. He then showed Enrique a ring, fashioned to look like a small sun, with a beautifully cut sunstone set in the middle.

“This one is a very special piece, and especially in this, the day of our beautiful sun’s awakening!” Enrique looked thoughtfully at the ring. It was charming to be sure.

“Are you sure this will show her how I feel?” He asked.

“Absolutely! As clear as the sun speaks!” Enrique wasn’t one hundred percent sure, but as the man was so enthusiastic, and it was pretty, so he bought the ring. Once purchased, he strung it on the surfers necklace he wore to match his shark-print Hawaiian shirt. Bidding the man goodbye, he hopped aboard his longboard to make up for lost time, rolling through the busy streets of Palo Alto with ease.

The sun’s orange glow bathed the city in light as he rode along, and suddenly, he started to hear a whispering. The voice was far off, but it sounded like someone was trying to speak with him. He stopped his board for a moment, and listened, but there was not a sound around him. At least, not of talking. There were sounds of traffic, both cars and people walking, but not a voice like the one he had heard. Slowly, he began to board again, wondering if he had imagined it. 

When he emerged from the busy street and turned towards the Foothills park, he heard the voice again, this time a little louder. The sun was in its full glory, the golden hour settling on the town before sunset. Enrique could hear a woman speaking, just enough that he could make out her words, but not enough to make sense of them. Instinctively, he reached for the shark tooth necklace to help him think.

As soon as he touched the ring, he heard the woman’s voice loud and clear. It was as if he had put on noise cancelling headphones, and all he could hear was her. 

“Microorganisms are fascinating. It’s funny to see all the things they do when their routine changes. I mean, it wasn’t so drastic a routine, was it?” 

Immediately Enrique let go of the necklace, shocked and confused. The voice stopped, and he looked down at the ring resting on his chest momentarily, putting the pieces together as the sun glinted off of its likeness.

The man had said, ‘As clear as the sun speaks’. 

Quickly, Enrique fiddled with the clasp on his necklace, slipped the ring off of the string and onto his little finger. The voice came back again, in the same comforting, warm tones of what Enrique assumed had to be the sun. He stood there for a moment, listening to what she had to say.

“Are they ever warm enough? I can never tell. It takes so much energy to send them warmth. It’s why half the year I can only warm one side at a time. Thankfully they figured out fire.

It seems we have a new listener. It’s so enchanting to know someone else can hear me for a change. Hello microorganism! Can you hear me? How was your day? I’m glad you found a stone to tune in with. Don’t you have somewhere to be?” Enrique, startled, felt as though she was speaking to him directly. And he did have somewhere to be. Cautiously, he started to longboard again, listening to the sun’s idle chatter as he did.

“It’s amazing, these microorganisms cover a planet so small and yet their lives end up being so huge. They’re not huge to everyone, but it’s hard not to become invested when you’ve been looming about ninety-three million miles away from them for so many millenia. I wonder if they feel the same, and that's why they get so excited over a routine change. I should stop startling them so, but it’s so funny to see how they react. I wonder how fast the earth would spin once one of those satellite people got their hands on a sunstone gem.” 

This is crazy! Enrique thought. I wonder if she can see me. How can she observe anything when we’re so small?

“Observance is nothing. It’s not hard when every other life form in space is either non-complex, non-existent, or inhabited by your brothers and sisters. When I observe microorganisms…how do I explain it? When microorganisms use that dish to look at something even smaller than them, the clear one? The one that sometimes sets things on fire? I use something like that, although much bigger. It’s nice to follow your followers. I’d been following the Mayans for centuries because it was so flattering that they noticed me. It’s a shame they died out.”

Enrique, fascinated but overstimulated, blocked the sun’s jabbering out of his mind. It was close to setting, and he had just reached the Foothills. He scanned them briefly, eager to find Isla and her group. He spotted a large group to his left, and, assuming it was them, headed in their direction. He was correct, and when he saw Isla almost stopped in his tracks. The sun crooned ,

“Ooooh, she is very lovely. I can see part of why this one likes her. I hope she likes the ring.” 

Isla caught Enrique’s gaze and smiled bashfully. She wore a yellow sundress that flared out around her knees, and was patterned with little white flowers. She wore a golden headband with little metal rays like the sun, and her red flats matched the cherry earrings that made Enrique blush. If the sun wasn’t setting above them, Enrique would have sworn it felt like high noon without a cloud in the sky. She was stunning to him. She approached him excitedly and exclaimed,

“I’m so glad you made it! And look at those lovely flowers! You really shouldn’t have. Come on, come join the party! I’ll introduce you to my friends.” Enrique remembered himself and smiled enthusiastically back at her. 

“That would be excellent! But first, I got you something else. Hold on.” Enrique pried the ring off his little finger and delicately handed it to her. But Isla did not take it. She blushed so hard, that for a moment he thought he had embarrassed her and that she did not like it.

“Oh Enrique, you didn’t have to get me anything.” She breathed, enchanted by the glint of sunbeams bouncing off the ring.

“Do you like it? I’m sorry if it’s too much. I thought because it was a special day, it might be fitting. You don’t have to take it if you don’t want it.” Enrique explained.

“No no, I love it! I- I just wasn’t expecting a gift, and I don’t have one for you.” Isla stammered. This was so awkward, just like she had feared! She was stumbling for words, flustered, but she did like the ring. Luckily, she didn’t have to think of anything to say..

“Isla, you want to know something special about the ring?”

“What’s that?” She asked. Enrique took a breath, trying to clear his head so the right words would come to him. At that moment, he thought of the old man, and smiled.

“It’s perfect for you, because you both shine as clear as the sun speaks.” Isla smiled, a feeling of relief settling in her chest. There was no awkwardness between them, just easiness. She allowed him to hold her hand, blushing at how gentle his touch was as he slid the sunstone ring on her finger. Then, her eyes widened with wonder as she heard the sun speak. Enrique beamed at her, relieved that they both shared this secret, this new bond between them. And as the sun set over them, Isla heard her say,

“Ah! Lovely. Perhaps I’ll do this again sometime. Goodnight Earth. Enjoy tomorrow.”

May 01, 2020 19:23

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L. M.
22:47 May 04, 2020

What a lovely, sweet story.


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Michael Loss
21:53 May 04, 2020

I really like it! I didn't expect the supernatural twist, which is a good thing! The characters' personalities are expressed nicely and made it an enjoyable read! Good job!


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Zea Bowman
14:18 May 04, 2020

You asked me for feedback, so I'm going to give you some. Sorry if it's long! First off, this was a great story and well written; I can tell you put a lot of time into it. Now here's the good stuff: "...wide-eyed as they experienced the gentle sounds of nature’s morning song." That was perhaps one of my favorite sentences! It describes the morning so well, and makes the reader stop and think about the wonders of the morning. Great job on that! I especially liked how you expressed Isla's personality through her actions, and how we got ...


Aimee Pieper
16:29 May 04, 2020

This was absolutely helpful! Also that 'really' was a typo, and I'm bummed because I thought I had gotten everything when I was editing. Oh well. :) Thank you so much for your feedback! <3


Zea Bowman
17:44 May 04, 2020

I enjoyed reading it! And no problem! I have a favor...could you please go and like my stories (I have already liked both of yours otherwise I would)?


Aimee Pieper
17:48 May 04, 2020

Absolutely! Sorry I thought I had


Zea Bowman
17:55 May 04, 2020

Thank you so much!


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Pranathi G
14:26 May 03, 2020

Nice story! Can you read my story and give me feedback? It's called "THE TIME HAS COME." It's for the same contest. Thank you!


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