So what was it like?
It was… it was like waking up beneath a dead sun.
What do you mean, a dead sun?
I mean it was like one day waking up and realizing that the sun above you had died – had been dead – and that every delicious, budding, scarring ray of light I ever felt was merely the final exhalations of a sun that had finally closed its eye.
So what did you do?
What was there to do? I had no chance of predicting when everything would go black; each day, I tricked myself into thinking I could perceive an infinitesimal decline in light, but everything looked the same. Everything was still illuminated by the same light.
But it wasn't the same light.
No, it wasn’t. The light’s essence had changed, transformed, had become grotesque and miserable. So had every shimmering surface surrounding me. Trees no longer reflected the fertility and incessant, churning power of the natural world; their gnarled limbs barked back the sounds of death. The asphalt looked like mass graves exhumed in the heat, shaking. When I drove to work, home, I swam through a pool of hazy death lapping at my tires.
Every day was like this?
I don’t know. Probably not, but essentially yes. Sometimes, I would let a single candle burn in my pitch black room, so that my eyes would engulf the flame and blaze back into blackness with primordial resilience.
But you know...
I know. It was like manufacturing false idols. I hated the sun, and I hated us. I blamed our nagging, petulant existence on the death of the sun. I turned the productions of severed human hands into the luminaries of celestial and heavenly realms. When I realized what I had been doing, I laughed and spit on the floor of my room, turned on the light, left the candle burning, and walked outside.
Was it night?
No, it was the middle of the day. I had bought curtains to make my room perfectly pitch black. It was a cave in which I conducted my absurd ritual, clenching my fists like stones and dragging them across the crooked and water-damaged wooden floors of my room when I moved from corner to corner, from bookshelf to dirty grey couch, to the window that permitted no light.
What happened next?
The light had begun fading enough to notice. Or, at least, for me to notice. It was liberating. To know that I’d finally be free of the tyranny of the dead sun. It didn’t matter that, sooner or later, there would be no natural light, that a horrifying black mass would consume me. I waited to laugh as the last sneering shimmer of the sun flickered out, so that the final image of the world would be my mocking smile. I wanted to return to its gravestone and beat my fists upon it in the blackened void of the world.
Is that how it ended?
No, because that moment never came. Everything around me had absorbed enough energy to continue to reflect its own image. At first, I found it scintillating and achingly bearable, that every little marked piece of the world remained in the wake of the sun. Then I grew to detest it. I hated the lingering. I hated that everything had absorbed that dead, awful light. That I could only see the broken cement outside of the house, the lines separating parking spaces in town, the winter pea briskly and haughtily waving outside of the kitchen window, the sheer white walls of my own room. I realized that I couldn't look at myself without knowing that I, too, had bathed in the same light. I was soaked in it; my skin replaced by the quivering glow of the translucent traces of a buried star. I hated myself.
Do you still?
For a long time, I did. But not anymore. Now, when I stand in my room, perfectly pitch black and no candle lit, I let my bed, my dresser, my clothes, the shelves and shelves of books, the boarded up fireplace slowly become visible because of the light emanating from me. I look upon the dusty corner where my shoes sit and know it exists, is visible, because I allow it to be. Behind me, the doorknob that no longer locks offers its rusted brass finish in homage of the light I have assembled and amassed as my new form. I close my eyes and smile without bearing my teeth. I feel the universe expand from me, yet forever still within my reach. I am the dead sun that I once reviled. Beneath my eyelids, my eyes shiver and quake like the orbs of Gods, holding within them the only light I will ever need.
What's it like, now, when you wake up under a dead sun?
It’s like it always was. Beautiful.