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Understanding Sunsets

by Julian Gonzalez 2 months ago in grief

A story I wrote about those my mother has told me

Understanding Sunsets
Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

She told me she remembered sunsets. The colors splayed across the sky in a dizzying kaleidoscope. Sunsets told her she wasn't inside the house. Walls taller than her blocked her view of the sun sinking into slumber. She could never walk home. There wasn't a house she'd give that name to just yet. For now, there was only a building encasing her sisters and her aunt while they slept.

The time she spent there after her uncle dropped her off from work was filled with anguish. She had her family to care for, and, whether she liked it or not, she had been shoved off the cliff into adulthood.

In a desire to escape, she spent time with her siblings near the river, carrying the 59 pound Sylvia on her back. Her burden was this girl, the innocence of a child who didn't understand the yelling of the unemployed boss of the house. A girl who didn't understand that her mere existence was a pain to the austere.

In some ways, she was the levity in the dark nights. The sunsets must have told Sylvia a beautiful story. One where such a perfect array of colors existed in a symphony or dance, a sight she must have loved to share with her older sister. Nothing told anyone otherwise. Even after being kicked out of the house for soiling the bed, something she had no control over no matter her siblings' best efforts.

It was often that the two sisters would sit together late. It was the older girl's duty to take care of her loved ones. No one else would. It seemed as though there were not a single other being alive who had the patience to refrain from brandishing a belt or a shoe in frustration.

She told me that sunsets made her think. The colors made her realize that she was the only one that understood. Humming flies served as a grim reminder there was no one else who would take her place in holding up Sylvia's world, and no family would care enough to pay any mind to her plight.

The time she spent since then recollecting her past sunsets was immeasurable. It was time she wishes she could both shed and relive, and in vain she prays.

In a desire to forget her sunsets, she wouldn't return to that house if unnecessary. She was told that family was everything, but her family gave her nothing but responsibility. They'd ask why she never visited. Why wouldn't she come and tell stories of their past? Maybe share a laugh. Truthfully, they'd be villains in those stories.

In some ways, she's forgiven her aunt for what I'd describe as a lack of humanity, but the thought always lingered in the back of her mind. Not a day went by that she didn't wish she could show her aunt the same treatment her family was given. But forgiveness is what she's chosen.

It was often when the memories would flood back into the corners of her mind, filling every crevice. The gaunt face of her deceased sister haunted her as the sunsets loomed. Her hands could feel the cold ones she held onto in tearless horror. In the chill of the moment, no one could understand.

She knew what sunsets meant to her. It was a code. She understood what sunsets meant to her very being. But would anyone else comprehend the context? Would any sunset fall on someone who knew just what she meant?


Julian Gonzalez

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Julian Gonzalez
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