I lay on my bed as the last of the sunlight fades, giving us, this small little planet, its final heroic effort of the day. In a dim room, bright orange light streams in through the window, hitting just three different spots on the walls. I lay on the bed, just minutes out of the shower, my hair now wet and cold. My pale legs are covered in oversized black sweats with jaggedly cut ends and a man’s thin striped pajama top.
I look at the last bits of light, feeling suddenly aware of the calm chamber.
My hands rest on my stomach, my feet are extended, supported by a jumble of three blankets that cradle them. Tiny gurgles call to my fingers below my pillowy stomach skin.
“Just be here,” I think to myself.
My chest fills with air, then deflates slowly.
I look to the wall on my left, the wall my bed presses against. There is a rectangular orange-gold piece of light, like a bright framed piece of sunlight on the wall. Cutting through the center of the light is the dark shadow of a cross. I stare.
“So pretty, I should get my camera…” But I don’t move. My hands stay on my stomach, my legs remain in the folds of soft blankets.
The cross, such an intense symbol; a torso and head, two arms extended, two feet pressed together as one. I see Jesus on a hill, I see myself in the morning, just after 7. How long did it take for people to realize the shape could be used for killing? For the structure of torture?
Perpendicular to the wall is the French glass door that leads to my kitchen. The top half of the door is bathed in soft yellow light, though the top-center of the door is glowing orange in the sun’s last rays. I realize the light is coming through my small window (parallel to the wall with the cross), hitting the doorway, then the glass is reflecting the image on the wall.
I look back and forth between the wall and the door, not needing to turn my head.
To the right of the door, directly in front of my body, on another small section of wall, are a few fragmented pieces of light, long jagged rectangles and bent circles and little speckles.
I think about the photographer I used to work for, Emily Payne. “It’s called the sweet light.” I can hear her say it, holding her big black camera in her hands. I imagine photographers around the world waiting for this time of day, waiting till they have the ‘right light.’ Do they stay indoors like inverted vampires, waiting only for a special hour? How many moments do they let pass? Is everything overlooked until the sweet light emerges?
I look up to the cross and the door. Has the light changed? It must have, the sun is fading by the minute. I search the color of the door. It’s just a bit paler. Still bright, but lacking intensity. It’s fading in front of my eyes and I can’t even watch it, I can’t see its fading unless I look away and then look back.
I turn to the wall. The cross has lost an arm. It looks like a T on its side. I should have gotten my camera. I could have written something about this and I would have had the perfect pictures to go along with it. I stay in bed. It’s too late now. “Just watch it, it’s fading away.”
How often had I missed this light? Maybe it would be the same tomorrow. Or nearly the same. The earth would not tilt too much in one day. What if I had not laid down? Would I have just sat at the desk, doing something, oblivious to the light around me? How many times have I done that?
I look up again, the light is dull.
“Just be still and watch…” I keep wandering away, I can’t even watch the light change for a few minutes without drifting.
The cross has become a single vertical line. The French door creaks open, pulled by the crack of the open window 15 feet away. As the door comes forward, the cross shifts, creating one solid black line, then another slightly lighter shadow line behind it.
Then the door creaks closed, and a single line emerges on the cross once again. The door’s bright orange light has faded almost entirely. I know that soon it will be completely gone, maybe then I’ll wonder what happened, how it left so fast.
I look over at the speckles of light on the wall perpendicular to the cross. The light there has faded too. Watch it. “Don’t take your eyes off it, watch what’s left.” I hold my eyes. Its fading…but a part of me cannot believe it. I realize I can barely watch it straight on. It’s almost painful. Why can I only see something changing if I look away?
The door is now dark. The cross is gone, and just a few sprinkles of light remain on the wall next to the door. I watch them, intent, finally holding my attention fixed as they fade. Dark, darker, then they are gone.
The phone rings.