2 comments

Mystery Sad

“What’s going to happen when the sun falls out of the sky Mommy?” Olivia asked as she walked hand in hand with her mother down a cotton candy pink road.

           “Don’t think about that sweetie,” her mother replied calmly, eyes straight forward but still smiling. “Now didn’t you say you wanted to find a unicorn today?”

           Olivia’s eyes went wide with excitement as she jumped up. “Yes! Do you think I could ride one too?”

           Her mother laughed, her long white dress swaying in the gentle breeze. “I’m pretty sure you can do whatever you want here.” But her eyes remained looking forward toward the woods. She was leading Olivia further away from the sun, looming larger as it slowly approached the ground.

           One step. Two steps. Bodies as light as air. Three steps. Four steps. Gravity starting to fall asleep.

           Olivia bounced forward on the pink road, letting go of her mother’s hand. She gently rose a little higher into the air with each skip down the road, giggling all the way. But before she entered the woods, she suddenly stopped bouncing, standing still. She turned around slowly and looked at her mom.

           “Wait. I thought I had Ruby with me?” Olivia looked confused, almost frightened how something like this could slip her mind. Memories of her stuffed unicorn bubbled to the surface as her mom slowed her pace, eyeing Olivia carefully. “Mommy, I thought I was holding Ruby. I remember squeezing her. Where’d she go?”

           Her mom stood still, the heat of the falling sun starting to singe the back of her neck. She calculated how to answer… but it felt as if she knew the answer but forgot it too. “Well Olivia, I guess you just left Ruby at the house. She’s safe and sound with…” But she didn’t finish her sentence, as if the thought died in her brain before it reached her tongue.

           “Oh yeah,” Olivia responded, but speaking carefully. “She’s gotta be at home with…”

           Suddenly a whisper floated through the wind and reached both of them. It came from deeper in the woods, a voice belonging to a man… a man who was…

           “Please don’t leave me…”

           “Mommy, what was that?” Olivia was scared as she rushed back to her mother’s side, gripping her hand firmly.

           “It’s okay sweetie,” her mom said, gently running her hands through Olivia’s hair, trying to soothe both of them. She knew the voice was familiar, but the memory was running away from her. So she improvised an explanation, something to satisfy both of them. “Maybe it’s a unicorn, deeper into the woods! That’s it, he must be lonely, let’s keep going.”

           Like flipping a switch, Olivia’s mood brightened. “Yeah, let’s go!” She started to run into the woods, once again freeing herself from her mother’s grip, her body bouncing like she was running on a trampoline.

           Her mom stood there and watched Olivia’s glee, soaking it in, trying to burn the memory deep in her mind. She started to follow but gave one last glance to the falling sun behind her.

           One blink. Two blinks. Two suns. Three blinks. Four blinks. Two suns growing closer and brighter.

           She caught up with Olivia as they watched the flowers swaying back and forth along the path. “They’re dancing!” Olivia cried out gleefully. She leaned in closer and saw faces on each of the flowers, each smiling joyfully and dancing to welcome the two of them. “Look, look Mommy!” Completely undisturbed by the flowers, Olivia was dancing alongside with them as they pulled themselves out of the ground, walking with their roots to come closer to them.

           “Looks like we made friends,” her mom said gently, but she fixated on the yellow flowers. They were moving in a pattern, a pattern that was reaching into her memory, trying to pull something out. The yellow flowers arranged themselves in two parallel lines all the way down the path. “Let’s keep moving, we’ve got a unicorn to find,” her mom said as she pulled Olivia forward. The flowers didn’t protest them leaving, but the yellow ones remained in their lines, their smiling faces looking behind the pair. Toward the suns.

           The voice whispered again, still sounding distant, like an ocean impossible to cross separating the speaker from them.

           “I’m here… come back to me…”

           “Ruby!” Olivia called out. She was fully convinced the voice belonged to her trusted stuffed animal now, even though it was a man’s voice. Her mom wasn’t going to correct her now. Olivia was gearing up to start sprinting down the bouncy road, but this time her mother kept her grip tight.

           “Hold on Olivia,” her mom said, looking up at dark clouds beginning to form above their heads. “It looks like it’s about to rain. Let’s hide underneath somewhere.”

           “If it rains, does that mean the sun stops dying for a while?” Olivia asked as they walked further down the path.

           “Dying?” her mother said a bit worried. “I didn’t say anything about the sun dying sweetie, it’s just falling out of the sky.”

           “Doesn’t that mean it’s dying though?”

           Suddenly thunder roared through the treetops. Olivia’s mom looked around and saw a metal roof, appearing out of nowhere. They raced toward it to beat the rain, standing underneath it and catching their breath.

           “This smells like a gas station,” Olivia said, holding her nose in disgust. Her mom looked around and just noticed it was an actual gas station now, with the pumps all lined up, waiting for the rain with them. “Weren’t we just here earlier today?” Olivia complained.

           “No, this is our first time here, isn’t it?” There was no time to question it further as the clouds opened up with… glass.

           Instead of rain, pieces of broken glass began to pour from the sky, crashing into even smaller pieces as they bounced off the ground. The metal roof above them clanged repeatedly, like a tin can being pelted with rocks. Thunder rumbled once more, but this time, amidst the chaos and confusion, Olivia’s mom recognized the sound of thunder clearly now. A horn. A bellowing horn blew instead of thunder as glass continued to fall.

           “What’s going on?” cried out Olivia on the verge of tears, her hands covering her ears.

           One heartbeat. Two heartbeats. Motherly instincts taking over. Three heartbeats. Four heartbeats. She reached out to grab Olivia’s hand once more, regretting ever letting go of it.

           But it was too late. Gravity fell fully asleep behind the wheel, yanking Olivia’s body out from under the gas station, flinging her parallel to the ground out of sight.

           “Olivia!” her mom yelled in agony as she didn’t hesitate to run after her. The glass kept pouring down, slicing her skin, eviscerating her feet, embedding into her skull. Blood streamed down over her eyes, but it didn’t stop her from rushing forward, the ground no longer soft and pink, now a cruel and uncaring solid pavement.

           Finally, she arrived to where Olivia was thrown to, her daughter’s small body in the fetal position. She was covered in cuts, blood pooling around her. Her mom threw herself on top of Olivia to stop the barrage of glass, the horn blaring in the sky once more.

           “I’m here sweetie, I’m here,” she cried as she held her daughter. “My little baby olive oil, Mommy’s here.” She caressed Olivia’s body, feeling how cold it was growing, then she noticed Olivia was holding something.

           “Look Mommy,” Olivia whispered in a hoarse voice. “I told you I had Ruby with me.” Olivia shifted her body to reveal that she was also protecting someone underneath her, Ruby her stuffed unicorn. The toy’s fur was shredded by glass, but more glaringly, it was flattened, stuffing pooling out, blacked tire marks streaked across Ruby’s face.

           The horn blared out again, and Olivia’s mom tore her attention away from Olivia to the sky. The two suns were beaming through the dark clouds, dangerously close now as the horn grew louder.

           “Why is this happening Mommy?” Olivia whimpered.

           It was time. The blood boiled in Olivia’s mom’s head as the tears fell down her face, her memory returning.

           “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry sweetie. There was a car accident. And- and- I don’t think both of us…” she broke down, the world around her beginning to fade away. The two suns- rather, the two lights of the truck- died and faded away, leaving mother and daughter alone one last time.

           “I can’t lose you too. We already lost her. Please come back to me,” the man’s voice begged through tears, sounding clearer.

           “Mommy… that’s Daddy, isn’t it?”

           Olivia’s mom choked back her grief, fighting to regain composure, trying to explain it all to herself and to her daughter. “Olivia, when this world dies, one of us will wake up and… and…”

           “We’re not going together?”

           She buried her face in her daughter’s hair, struggling to hold on a bit longer. “No sweetie, it sounds like one of us died and- and- it’s me I think. I- I- I can’t even remember my own name, and you never knew it, so it has to be you, you have to be the one that lived.”

           She didn’t know for sure but once again, she spoke, hoping that she was telling a truth to calm both of them.

           “You have to be the one that lived Olivia because it’s all my fault, it’s all Mommy’s fault. I- I can’t be the one to wake up.”

           Olivia looked up at her mom one last time, but her mom struggled to see her through the blood and tears.

           “Mommy, I hope you’re the one who wakes up,” she spoke with an innocent and earnest kindness.

           The world faded away as they held each other.

           Only one woke up back in a world with one sun, never to shine as bright as it used to.

January 08, 2024 22:52

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

2 comments

Marty B
19:25 Jan 15, 2024

I liked the line 'Gravity starting to fall asleep.' Great descriptions of a person trying to make sense of an unnatural, terrible event. Good luck in the contest!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Mary Bendickson
01:45 Jan 09, 2024

So sad...

Reply

Show 0 replies

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in the Reedsy Book Editor. 100% free.