I never could break the habit of rising with the sun. A hint of daylight and I’m like a sunflower, at attention and looking toward the horizon. There’s a quiet then, a dearth of human activity that I postulate didn’t exist a century ago. People used to need the dawn for motivation; now they need Starbucks or a breakfast burrito.
I can almost believe in the demise of civilization at 7:00 am on a Saturday morning- the streets and strip malls as vacant as an apocalyptic movie set. The world is eerie, vivid, static without the underlying buzz of voices and motors, the soft rubber tread of an overpriced sneaker on the concrete sidewalk. It gives me the heebie-jeebies. As alone as I like to be, a Saturday morning in a city suburb is taking solitude a few steps too far. Maybe it’s a leftover unease from watching Time Enough At Last as a child, but I feel better knowing the others are out there, even if they aren’t invited to knock on my door.
Do I have a point? I can’t seem to recall just now. I may only ramble a while but you’ll have to follow along if you want to know where I was intending on finishing.
Did I mention the “shudders”? No, not “shutters”- shudders. You know, the intrinsic quivering as your mind tells your body something’s amiss. The shudders are a sort of a faint blue with purple in the middle. For me it always starts in the shoulders. They set in about six months ago, a few days before the crash. I didn’t have much concert with them before that. Ferocity takes the lead over fear after you’ve been alone a certain amount of time. I suppose that’d be what the psychs call a defense mechanism.
I don’t need them, but they come.
My mother, she loved flowers- especially black-eyed susans. They looked like her. Her halo wasn’t gold though, more pearlescent. People gravitated to her, told her things, expected her to help them. They liked to make her laugh. I don’t think they even knew why. I’ve never met anyone else who appeared so untainted. I saw her drunk once- was that an adventure! What’s strange is that even melancholy couldn’t dim her radiance. It came from her soul, I think and couldn’t be quashed by mortal trials. It takes sunshine to breed shadows.
The morning was quiet, as I said. Normal, the sky a mild slate with a stretched cotton ball look to the clouds. As I recall, the air was a trifle brisk in accordance with the season. I can’t remember any particular scent. A prairie dog with his black beady eyes was staring from a burrow edging the groundcover.
There wasn’t a rumble or even a tremble. There was nothing. Nothing and then this heat- like getting in your car after it’s been sitting in a parking lot for a couple of hours in August- only this was world-sized. Stifling and comforting at the same time. That’s why it didn’t worry me, to begin with.
It was only later when the heat lasted but the sun died, that I started wonder. All those beautiful flowers wilting, their areolas folding in on themselves like they were hiding from what was to come.