Total Eclipse

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.

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6 thoughts on “Total Eclipse

  1. I too loved the vividness of this. I can see everything… well, except for the eclipse. I've never actually looked at one since my mom always beat it into my head that if I looked directly into an eclipse my eyes would explode.

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  2. Apparently, I've had that beaten into my head too. I don't think it was my mom, though; I think it was more my teachers in elementary school.

    I remember the whole thing with the two pieces of paper with the hole poked in one and it makes the shadows or something on the other piece of paper. I never tried it.

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  3. Come to think of it, I think you're right. It was elementary school that beat that into our heads. Like, as children, we might just continue to stare at the sun even while our corneas melted, so best to devote years of warnings to this.

    Thanks to my elementary school teachings, I always expected that at some point in my life I would fall in quicksand (don't flail around, that makes you sink faster!), and that at some point in my life I would be on fire (stop, drop, and roll!).

    But if I ever encounter a flaming pile of sinking mud, you'd better believe I'm prepared for it.

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