It was a nice, spring evening, and I was driving eastward through town when I noticed the clouds begin to clear in the sky ahead. As the clouds drew back, I could see that there were stars behind them. It was still too early for the stars to be out, and I knew immediately that this had to mean that there was a solar eclipse taking place in the sky behind me. I began to panic. I was afraid that I would be irresistibly drawn to look at the eclipse and that I would end up damaging my eyes. I pulled into the parking lot of the local library. I kept my head down as I got out of the car, but I couldn’t resist making a quick sidelong glance at the sun. I only got a glimpse. I saw the massive dark disk slowly sliding into position. I saw the huge interlocking mechanisms of nature momentarily exposed beyond the limit of what human eyes can bear. I kept my head down and went looking for shelter.
I went inside the library. There was a reading room in the basement, and there were other people taking shelter there. It was quiet and still and everyone was hunched down as though holding their breath and waiting, their eyes all raised towards the ceiling, trying to stay perfectly still until this terrifying alignment of celestial bodies had run its course in the world above. A number of people had even piled into a closet. They were all crammed in there with hardly room to move or breathe. One of them, a small child with a smudged face, stared into my eyes, shaking and trembling. The sight of them all cowering in the closet made me reconsider my fears. I had never seen an eclipse, and I might never see one again. As long as I didn’t look directly at the sun, I’d be alright.
I decided to go back out. I climbed the stairs, back up to the main doors of the library, eager to get back outside. But when I opened the doors, there was just a huge grey gust of wind sweeping past. I stepped out and found the sky completely clouded over and darkened and grey. There were a few inches of snow on the ground and there was thick snow swirling in the air. The bright spring evening had been swept aside by the eclipse. The sun and the moon were out there beyond the clouds, conspiring to leave us in the dark and the bitter cold.