The Sun Has Not Set
by Helen Parocha
Maureen picked up the parcel with shaky hands. It was that anti-ageing cream she had ordered. She stared at herself in the mirror, saw her haystack hair, her bloodshot eyes. What a joke. That the cream should arrive today, the day Geoffrey had left her.
She slapped the gunk onto her face. Oh, she had tried beauty products, whatever the magazines recommended, but each day she looked more wrung out. No wonder Geoffrey had gone.
The fan whirred above her. Midsummer night and the city was neon. She would never get used to Geoffrey’s town. As a girl she had lived on an island, so far north that the night stayed light at midsummer. The sun sank to the horizon, the sky curdling with clouds as if someone had cracked an egg across the heavens. Her oily tears trickled under her collar. She would give anything to be a child again.
She must have fallen asleep. Her head throbbed as she opened her eyes. Odd light filled the room. She stumbled to the mirror. Her hair was mousy. Her teeth had that gap between them. I’m eleven. Her legs weakened. She saw the posters on the walls, the school books on the desk. Outside, the moon rose over the sun-soaked horizon.
I’m eleven, Maureen thought, and I’m ugly. She always had been. But this was before Geoffrey. She put her hand on the books. The sun had not set on her. She could start again.