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A Family Mystery

Brandon Riederer is an Adjunct Professor of English at Bryant & Stratton College. He has a M.A. in English from National University.


A Family Mystery

The insatiable curiosity of a child’s mind is powerful enough to blur the worlds of reality

and imagination into an indiscernible worldview— one marked by both trivial fears

and careless adventures.

My sister and I had always flown along the cusp between these worlds as characterized

evidently by our bold ignorance and ingenuity.

However, what else should one expect from children?

Trapped by the same four walls night after night,

Nobody there except for my sister, mother, and the island-themed wallpaper.

In our private prison, my mother had always been strict—and rightly so.

Ever since our father suddenly died— we found him lying cold on the floor one morning,

Mother had a list of uncompromisable demands.

Most of her demands were reasonable, some were obvious, and yet some mysterious.

One of mother’s rules in particular seemed to escape my comprehension:

Never look directly into the sun.

My sister and I had seen the warning signs of many grisly dangers,

and we averted many catastrophes in part to our mother’s cautionary demeanor.

However, how could the sun—so peaceful, bright, and comforting—pose a threat?

Of course, curiosity can be the damnedest thing: torn between the desire to know

and our instinct to heed forward with caution— avoiding precarious circumstances.

Despite this vexing experience, our threshold to suppress cannot oust our deepest wishes.

Unfortunately, my sister learned this fact recently and I am thusly transformed forever.

Secretly, my sister had been spying on the sun—exposing herself to her golden rays.

She discovered the seemingly safe rays of sunshine did not smite her with an ungodly wrath.

She did not suffer paralytic shock nor did shiver into an uncontrollable seizure.

Rather, she found something comforting in the warmth of the sun.

In fact, she felt as though the sun were magnetic—pulling her in towards her embrace.

However, somewhere inside her mind her mother’s voice would interrupt her euphoria,

“Don’t look directly into the sun!”

At this moment, she would regain control of herself and continue her day as before.

The following days, my sister constantly found herself spying on the sun.

Captivated by its beauty, its sublimity, its magnetic pull,

But she consistently shook herself from her curiosity.

But today, her curiosity wore on her with an unbearable weight: it chained her to the floor.

She gazed upon the sun again with the intention of flying over her mother’s demands,

and so she did: she flew away from this world to embrace our cosmic mother: the sun.

The sun’s image grew in her eyes: doubled, tripled, quadrupled in size.

The heat intensified the longer she stared, but she was so close now—closer than ever—

She was past the point of no return: by the time my mother and I saw her, it was too late.

With a flash of blue lightening and the sound of a metallic scream,

My sister dropped to floor—cold, dead, gone.

I stood in awe, horrified at the sight.

Then my mother yelled, “Get down and hide, don’t let them see you!”

So I quickly hide in the darkest recesses of our room and observed carefully from my cover

until the danger had past.

This horror I can describe: I saw one of them—as colossal as my mother described to me—stoop down to the

floor with two large tools: she swept my sister into a pile of rubble and tossed her away.

On the way out, the giant turned off the sun and left my mother and I to weep under the cover of night.

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