Seeing the Dark
by Addy Farmer
‘Too light,’ grumbled Papa. ‘Hold the telescope straight, Angel!’
Angel, small and pale, gripped the instrument with slippery fearful fingers.
‘Can you see it yet, Papa?’ but the breeze carried her whisper away through the sentinel firs.
She looked up. Even now she hoped the dark might return and nothing else would be needed. But the light remained, a stubborn silver stain, creeping across the moon and the stars and the sun. Weeks of seeing the light and longing for the dark. Just like Papa had predicted. Papa the great man. On this awful night, he told the believers, it would come, unless Papa stopped it.
But Angel dreaded the return of the dark.
Without taking his eye from the telescope he demanded. ‘Are they here yet?’
Angel glanced behind. ‘Yes,’ she croaked.
They stood, the tall black forest at their backs, the fat blonde slab of rock at their feet. Angel bit her fist. She wanted to laugh at them as they chanted and swayed; their hair all at sleepy angles, their cloaks and gowns disordered from hasty awakening.
‘IT IS TIME!’ roared Papa.
He dragged at Angel’s thin arm. He pulled her roughly down the stony path. She trembled violently in her thin white shift.
‘NO, Papa, please!’
The brightlit crowd hastened forward to the altar slab. The comet’s fierce light glinted on the sacrificial knife.
Papa’s bright red blood flowed over the stone. He twitched. Grey eyes closed and the comet still came.