Eyes for the Sun

M.W. Brooke

She only had eyes for the sun, but I fell in love with her anyway. The day we met, she swayed across the bistro table cramped with coffee mugs and pastries oozing jam like fresh wounds, and brushed my knuckles with her leaves. In a few hundred million years, she said, the sun’s heat will strip the Earth’s atmosphere and boil its oceans. She smiled skyward, the petals of her face curling at the ends like peaks of lemon soft serve, and I crumbled.

We exchanged phone numbers and late-night texts: heart, bee, and winking emojis, names of record shops and wooded parks where we’d agree to meet. She suggested the beach for the summer solstice. We laid out topless; the sun lavished her with affection and caressed her golden skin slick with baby oil. I burned within minutes and cowered under an umbrella, jealous and sticky as I slathered myself in aloe vera.

That night she let me go down on her, wine drunk and dizzy with the heat of the sun trapped in her pores. She threw her head back on the pillow, blue moonlight spilling across her delicate stem. Her body shuddered with laughter not meant for me, bridled somewhere deep in her belly.

She slept with her back to me, facing a bare window with a view to the eastern horizon — poised to greet the sun. I gathered her teardrop seeds from the bed like a remora hanging to the lip of a shark and ate them whole, chewing the shells into a bitter mash. My tongue swelled with the splinters, and I welcomed the ache in my throat after each swallow.

Curled beside her, I dreamed I was driving on an endless strip of road outside Topeka, flanked by a field crowned with brilliant yellow. In the dilating twilight, without the sun to captivate them, the sunflowers had turned toward each other.

I woke before dawn and slipped from her bloom, her bed, her apartment. I cut out scraps of goldenrod felt in the shape of canoes. My fingers trembled with hope as I stitched them to my cheeks and scalp and jaw. The needle slid through skin and muscle, and blood stained my petals like the airbrushed blush of a doll. Before I lost my nerve, I doused the sun with bottled tears I kept in the fridge next to a box of expired baking soda.

The world went dark.

I found her crying on her couch, a wilted thing. Her petals were faded and wrinkled like old lips. Look at me, I said. Just this once. I shook my false bloom like a lion’s mane, but she wouldn't lift her head.

Who would do such a thing? she wept.

I fled. I tore off a petal sewn to my temple, then the others one at a time, chanting the lines of effeuiller la marguerite in a childish hush. She loves me, she loves me not. Leftover thread dangled down my face like snapped fishing line. The final petal stitched to my chin quivered.

Just above the city skyline, the sun’s blackened corpse hung, wretched and cold and alone.


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