Sucking Up the Sun
Randall Brown

He had left them in the sun and now they were dead. His mother had given him the guinea pigs as a birthday present and he had ridden his bike to Pensupreme for a Marathon bar and a Chief Crunchie and lemonade.

One in each hand, he carried them to the woods behind the house He imagined them filled with tiny hard white balls of stuffing—not down or cotton.

He buried them as deep as he could dig with his hands under leaves, sticks, seeds, roots, thick black dirt. Afterward, he sat next to the stale cage in the hot sun and waited.

In the late afternoon, after she woke up, she opened the screen door. Still unawake, white crust across her lips, in the corners of her eyes. A car door slammed out front and the engine fired and the car drove away.

She walked past him, glanced down, knew right away. “Already,” she said.

And if she knew and wasn’t surprised why had she given him the guinea pigs except to have this moment? And why did he always give her what she wanted?

“At least it wasn’t a dog,” she said. She sat on the pink lounge chair. How long would she have to lie there before she too became something soft that he'd pick up in his arms and have to carry away?

“Look at you,” she said. “Stained. Where’d you do it?”

He pointed up, to the woods. He didn’t love them, yet, and so he felt not sad or broken but nothing, and he wanted her to give him some clue as to what should replace that nothing inside.

“Well, now you know,” she said. She shut her eyes, absorbed the sun, and never grew darker.

“I don’t know,” he said.

She unshut her eyes, turned her head. “Sure you do. You weren’t trying to kill them, were you? But it was inevitable. Every time I give you something, every time it dies. And so now you know.”

Until dusk, she’d lie there until there was no more heat and she was dry but unburnt. And at night, he’d lie in her place, and he’d know the stars were just stars, the dark sky only sky, and no one looked down and no one waited to hear his thoughts.

“Having a vampire for a mother has far-reaching effects, besides making one completely batty.”

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