A SOLID SUNRISE • by Brendon Arnold

Even in the dead of night, my eyes do not falter from the nightstand beside of my bed, where my phone lies dormant. Checking it only confirms that it’s still 1:17 A.M. My mind shuns away any hope of sleep.

What is wrong with me? Why am I still so nervous?

It’s been a little over a month since Megan and I started going out. In just under four hours, I’ll be seeing her again.

Come on, Elliot. Just, fall asleep. Can’t show up to a date half-asleep. Alright, commence sleeping… now! Sleep… now!

Dammit. This isn’t going to work. Better take another dose of “Nyquil”.

I trudge to the kitchen and pour myself a glass of whiskey. It’s cheap and tastes like ass, but it slows my mind.

I return to bed. Seemingly, the instant my head touches the pillow, the alarm on my phone sounds. God, why do people get up before five in the morning? My bed becomes the most comfortable thing in the world, holding my dead weight of a body hostage.

Upon the fourth or fifth time hitting the snooze button, I see a new text from Megan. “Morning Sunshine.” My body springs upright with new life. I throw on some clean(ish) clothes and flee my apartment.

The stillness of dawn is interrupted by the deep rumbling of a sky-blue Mustang, idling in the parking lot behind my building. Megan rolls down the passenger-side window and calls out, “Get in, loser. We’re going shopping.”

It takes me a few seconds to register that it’s her in the Mustang calling to me. At this point, the reference she made is far over my head.

The moment I get into the car, I’m overtaken by fierce, emerald eyes, beaming at me through thick glasses. Her black hair, shoulder-length and with a natural wave to it, blends into the leather headrest. Everything I once thought cute about her, now just makes her look powerful. I find myself intimidated by her in a completely new way.

“Well, can’t say I saw this coming,” I admit, eyeing the interior of the car.

“Seems there might be a lot you still don’t know about me,” she smirks, shifting into drive and peeling out of the lot.

No words are said during the first few minutes of the drive. Alright, got to think of a good conversation to break the morning ice. I could ask her how much a polar bear weighs. That line’s probably worked at least once.

“So,” she begins, as if reading my desperate thoughts. “Ever been up to Brookview at sunrise?”

Oh, all the time. It’s my normal morning jog actually, to go up and down the mountain.

“Well, I’ve never actually been to Brookview before,” I admit.

Idiot.

“Seriously?” she wonders. “And you’ve been living here for two and a half years?”

“Yea, well, I guess, I just…” Don’t really do much of anything. Because I’m a lazy piece of… “Just haven’t gotten around to it yet. It’s been on my list, though.”

Silence is muffled by the crescendo of the roaring Mustang entering a steep incline. She continues, “I’m really excited though. It’s one of my favorite spots around town, and I think it’ll be fun to have some company up there.”

We pull into a parking lot before a scenic overlook. The overlook is already packed with people, most of which are couples.

Megan gestures me to follow her to the adjacent side of the lot, onto a narrow walking path hidden between fields of bushes. Fifty yards or so, the trail leads to a flat-topped boulder, protruding out of the side of the bluff, creating a secluded overlook. Without hesitation, Megan jumps onto the boulder and sits down at the edge, legs dangling over the side of the cliff. She glances back at me and pats the stone surface next to her.

Yea… that’s not gonna happen. No way in hell am I getting anywhere near that ledge.

I slump myself onto the boulder to take a seat next to her.

“I love it here,” she breathes. “It’s so peaceful.”

Staring past our outstretched feet dangling over the treetops below, I’m able to get out a “Mmhm.”

AHHHHHH.

She gazes over the orange and violet hues battling over the horizon. “Just, so beautiful.”

“Yea,” I agree, now focusing my eyes on her.

Suddenly, the victorious orange light bursts open and engulfs us. The emergence of light blanketing the valley below seems to have taken the breath away from the world, creating an awe-inspiring peace.

I interrupt the silence. “Yea, I think you should pick the dates from now on.”

She exhales a subtle laugh. “I mean, it’s no Chili’s.”

I return a chuckle, and the stillness ensues.

Oh, God. Don’t say that. Do not say it.

I’m able to hold off until the sun is fully immersed in the sky, before the twinge in my gut overcomes me. I shift my body closer to her and whisper a few inches away from her ear, “Morning sunshine.”

She turns her head perfectly for our lips to touch. Impulse pushes my body against hers. We become locked in one perpetual moment. The world around us comes to a stop. Even the world inside my head ceases to spin.

Within an instant the moment ends, and our lips separate. Her intense eyes, gazing into mine, appear subdued. My body lightens, as I finally take in a breath. I smirk. “Pretty good, wasn’t it?”

She shrugs with a cocky smile. “Solid five.” She caresses the back of my neck, bringing me closer to her, and kisses me back.


Brendon Arnold is an engineer in Arlington, VA with a passion for creating stories that people can enjoy.


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