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  • Writer's picturePete O'Brien

Shock Sun

Updated: Aug 9, 2023

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Shock Sun

by Pete O'Brien

Yesterday my teeth fell out. All of them. For no reason whatsoever. The dentist laughed when I told him. He said, "No need to brush!" Well, yesterday was a banner day. My dog ran away. She's not coming back either. A kid left a note. "Thanks for the beautiful dog."

There are times when it's easy to write a story. And there are times when it's hard. The situation tonight is that no one but me cares about what I do anymore. That puts the onus on me. I am the performer and the audience. I stand alone in the theater, and perform for no one. If a tree falls? How can I continue? The world has something else to do instead. And as I am invisible to you, and as only I can see myself, I am come to the point Ralph Ellison reached when he wrote Invisible Man. There are those who will disagree. And I myself shall be among them, half the time, ever wary of painting myself the same as another, when each one of us is an I, a me, a myself, and finding common ground is a shifting sand. I am Leopold, yes? But who is Leopold? I'm the guy who is supposed to write a page tonight, and another page in two weeks? No. I am no longer him. I am you.

You look around the place you are seated, not remembering how you came here. You are seated on a beach chair recliner, tilted way back. You have sunglasses on. You are wearing a bathing suit. Your shirt is off. People are walking and running on the beach. The water is red. It occurs to you that the ocean is blood. You find this fact to be different from what you expected. The ocean color was to be green or blue or brown or even black, but not red.

The sun falls down on the sand in front of you. You jump off your recliner chair, run from the patio deck to the sand on the way to the beach, as the sun hovers over the sand. The people on the beach stop walking and running.

You wake up out of this dream, but the reality isn't much better. The planet is heating up, yet humankind continues to wage wars. There is no escape. You close your eyes.

You open your eyes. You are back on the sand leading to the beach. The sun is behind you on the sand. It has turned black. The sun has died. The planet is colored entirely blue now. You run over the sand, dodging the people who are walking and running again (they are walking and running in every direction), you push some of them down.

"Out of my way!" you cry. The moment feels more desperate than any time you have ever known. You come to the edge of the red sea. You stand for just a moment as the water laps at your feet. A child stands beside you with a plastic shovel for the sand.

You run into the water, you run into the blood. You swim onward past the surf, onward, deeper into the sea.

"I don't understand," you say, as you swim.

You wake and find yourself back in the overheated world.

"Why?" you say. This sequence of events has happened many times before. Your lightness and good humor is lacking; you want to recover it; but so much is going wrong!

The solution is to see the world with new eyes. Yes, that must be the answer. But the world lacks any tangible form.

I . . . am . . . supposed . . . to . . . be . . . writing.

"Shock Sun" © August 3, 2023 by Pete O'Brien. All Rights Reserved. "Shock Sun" is a work of fiction. Any persons or events in the story are products of the imagination and not of real life. Any apparent correspondence of story characters and events to real life is strictly coincidental.


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