ECLIPSE • by Connie Cook

Martin takes his daughter, Stella, to the clearing behind their cottage. She’s young for an eclipse viewing but he hopes she’ll at least retain a shared memory of absolute darkness in the daylight, then light again.

He holds her hand as the moon passes between the sun and earth. From day to night and back to day. A common Stygian experience with a whole continent of humans looking upward.

Sharing her after the divorce has wreaked havoc on Martin — the garboil of fetching her to and from her mother’s house, suitcases and backpacks and lunch pails and wet bathing suits from her swim meets. Each time Stella goes back to her mother the cottage stifles him with its silence. Or casts a shadow over him like the moon passing over the earth. It’s been difficult to find the bright spot, the place where daylight returns.

And then the stranger at the door of the cottage one evening, handing him court papers from his wife. A yawning hole in his chest from reading a summary of their marriage which would be exposed for all to  see.

And yet the one bright light in their years together, this little girl beside him. He has had to learn how to care for a little girl by himself. Untangling snarls in her hair, reading unicorn stories in bed, wiping away tears when a small friend forsakes her.

Martin squeezes Stella’s hand to offer comfort in case she is afraid. But she sees the event differently than he thinks.

She draws in breath and hops on one foot. “It’s magic, Daddy.” As if he created it just for her.

He sighs. Which is more compelling — the wonder of the universe or the wonder of his child?

Connie Cook is a retired social worker and former librarian who resides in Ontario, Canada. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree and a certificate in creative writing. When not busy at her desk creating stories, she likes to walk, ride her bicycle and travel. Her favorite authors are Alice Munro and Michael Crummey. Her first love is the short story, and more recently, flash fiction. She also loves a surprise ending.

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