Sunlight creeps across the sky, pricks through the dense branches of the evergreens above to alight on the back of your neck.
Vellus hair stands to worried attention there as the rest of the organism jumps several bands on the terror scale. Fear is definitely a rusted orange hue. The color of squinting against the summer sun. There is no brightness left in this light, it has travelled from the deep past to reclaim you.
You close your eyes.
Inside, the quake begins. The house screams.
You’ve long since given up on the the notion of having new things, nice things. The walls are bare, the furniture basic. The quakes destroy everything beautiful. You may as well just stay at zero.
The carpet is a post-beige morass of shades of dirt. The parts of it you can see, anyway.
In the corners are cobwebs so old the spiders have declared them historic landmarks.
Something in the refrigerator is having a very loud birthday party.
A single token of a once-happy time rots in the corner bookcase, and the floor continues to shake.
The sun breaks through the dangling vertical blinds where one of the flaps has snapped off and you feel it now, it burns through you until all you can feel is suffocating heat and the smell of baked black spores –
You let the breath go out of you, the one you didn’t know you were holding.
Step towards the door to close the blinds and your foot gives way on something white and chalk-slick, and you can smell bread – not real bread, but the chemical soup that comes in a bottle marked Scent of Bakery #3 and now the phone is ringing with rejection, rejection, rejection and somewhere upstairs the men are fighting.
You land on your backside in the beanbag chair that never had quite enough beans in it, and on the outside, your backside stings with the memory.
And the sun beats down, even through the roof; this house has been pried open like a soup can and the sun is inside, the heat is coming from inside the house, the air is plasma, the sun will never leave you, even as your last breakfast does.
Outside the happy little sprouts taunt you, saying, but Sun is good, Sun is love, Sun is life, look at us.
Sun is pain. Sun is fear. Sun is dread.
Sun reaches out with its fingers to pull you back to the soup can house, to keep you locked in there forever.
Sun is older than all of your hiding places.
Sun is patient, so patient.
And everywhere Sun touches you, you scream. You will always scream.