The end is not darkness, but rather a glowing warmth


Eva Harshman

A gray steed who may have been her ride before he returned to Earth.

The softest, lightest, ginger-brown hair gently undulates in the wind. His pale, bare feet are silent as they tiptoe across the stone and twirl onto the soft grass. In the night, it is coated with a thin layer of cool dew, but he basks warmly in his yellow light. His gray eyes can barely be seen behind the mysterious veil of his gentle locks.

He is not smiling, contrary to his light and playful steps. His face is solemn yet not sorrowful, and his brow is anything but furrowed. Not a wrinkle can be seen on his smooth, glowing skin. His hand soundlessly glides across the worn stone without a hitch as if they had been lined with ice, although this is even less fathomable with the warmth radiating off of him.

As he picks his head up, the fog clears and swirls into his iris, his pupil cutting through like a midnight sun. Their eyes lock, and hers widen in curiosity. Not a spark of fear courses through her, but it would surely jolt someone any amount of years older. She is young; still in the youthful pink nightgown that her mother lovingly dressed her in before she lay down for a most restful night.

And yet, in her youth, she is so very old. Her eyes hold the wisdom of decades—she is a daughter and a granddaughter, but she is, too, a mother and a grandmother. An elder and an infant, she allows everything to fall away from beneath her feet. In the yard, it is just the two figures, one warming the ground with his grace, the other enthralled by his presence.

Slowly, the soft grasses reach up and wind around her ankles. They hold her grounded, gently but firmly. Her attention is diverted momentarily, and without looking away, she reaches down and caresses the plants. She loves them; memories of her childhood vegetable garden to her elderly flower fields race through her mind in a fraction of a second.

Gradually, as her hand brushes against them, the grass begins to unwind and releases her legs. He stands there, waiting patiently but doesn’t break eye contact for a second—he refuses to blink. And yet, she is not frightened, but rather she is comforted. She no longer must remain solitary on the cool soil. 

And yet, she is not frightened, but rather she is comforted. She no longer must remain solitary on the cool soil.

Just as she begins to take a step towards him, she feels a pool at her feet. A pool of tears; a pool that she can see her reflection in one last time. Somehow, although she is solitary in the puddle, she is not alone in the image that appears on the surface. Her mother, her daughter, her grandmother, her granddaughter, and the generations rippling out are all surrounding her. They are weeping, as is she. They cry for her, but she sobs for them.

She wishes they wouldn’t cry; they needn’t be feeling her nonexistent tragedy. She musters a brave face, grinning at their frowns. They suddenly cease their tears, staring back blankly before allowing a smile to creep onto their cheeks. She laughs, and they laugh too. It is okay. Maybe, it is even appropriate to smile.

The mirage fades, and his eyes are still locked on her. However, there is something different. He is no longer solemn. His white teeth add to his glow, and his pale lips are parted as his hue becomes more and more saturated. His chuckle is silent, but it is the happiest of them all. He gets to take her home. 

When she realizes his glee, she begins to cry once more, but again, this is a different situation. Her tears are golden, joy pouring out from her eyes. She, at last, can return home. She gets to see her mother and her grandmother, and just as they had for her, she will watch over and wait for her daughter and her granddaughter.

At last, her deep, rich skin begins to glisten as her hand nears his. Their fingers interlock, and his grip is everlasting. She clings to him, knowing that where he takes her will be her eternal haven. Together, they skip along the barrier of tangibility, taking their respite in the endless golden field, surrounded by the matriarchal embrace.