Lola met the sex god at a restaurant. She let him buy her dinner and wine and she let him drive her home. She made him coffee and then they went upstairs and Lola let the sex god do what sex gods do. It was hard and fast.
Once it was over, the sex god removed his penis from her quickly, took a swig of cold coffee while he dressed, and left. Thanks. Goodbye.
And Lola tried not to cry. But she did. She cried hard and she cried fast.
Eight months, one week and three days later, Lola gave birth to a sun. She was surprised; a son she’d expected — baby-shaped and with arms and legs and a face. A sun, round and hot, was a surprise.
The sun was small. It was red and soft to the touch. It glowed like embers and it warmed her. And every time she felt its breath on her skin, every time she smelled it, it reminded her of the father. He had his father’s breath, and she tried to not let that bother her.
The sun grew quickly and as he grew he became hotter. He could scorch when he was hungry or needed winding and Lola kept a wet flannel in the fridge, for when she needed to soothe him. It’d fizz and it’d hiss at his skin.
One night, the sun woke up screaming. Lola rushed to his room and she found his cot was singed and smoking. Now, Lola had read all of the books and she knew, quite definitely, that her sun had a fever. She picked him up with oven gloves and she placed him, gently, into a bowl she’d filled with cold water. She carried him outside, to the back of the house, where the air was clear and the breeze was cool.
Lola sat down on a garden chair and set the bowl on her lap. She rocked him and dabbed him with ice cold towels, sprayed him with water. And she sang to him, softly.
Here we go ‘round the mulberry bush on a cold and frosty morning.
The sun burned brightly. Once he flared up and singed her hair. But still she sang, among the crackling and screaming, among the sparks and the heat. And still she rocked him.
He crackled and spat and burned all night until, when the sky became light, he stopped.
Lola, so tired now, didn’t notice straight away. She was still singing to him, still rocking him — her eyes up at the sky. But when she did look to him she saw that he wasn’t burning anymore. No flares. No spitting. No sparks.
He’d burned himself out. He was dull and still in his bowl. And when she touched him he was cold, his skin hard like charcoal.
And when it rained and the drops hit the sun there was no fizzing, no hissing. There was nothing, and that was exactly how Lola felt inside. And she wanted to cry — wanted to cry hard and she wanted to cry fast but she couldn’t. There was nothing inside of her. So, after a moment, she started to sing. Quietly at first, her voice little more than a breath. It was all that she could manage.
Here we go ’round the mulberry bush, on a cold and frosty morning.
Nik Perring is a short story writer and author from the UK. His stories have been published in many fine places both in the UK and abroad, in print and online. They’ve been used on High School distance learning courses in the US, printed on fliers and recorded. Nik’s the author of the collection Not So Perfect (Roast Books, 2010) and the co-author of Freaks! (The Friday Project/HarperCollins, 2012). His online home is nikperring.com and he’s on Twitter as @nikperring.