Arnie pushed her auburn hair behind her ears. She found her hair annoying at this length but there was no need to worry about a haircut now. The message was clear, perhaps the clearest she had ever received.
She scooted her stool close to the window and pushed aside the blue and yellow flowered curtains her grandmother said would be perfect for her room. “You will always have a breath of spring in your room!” The sky was baby blue with cotton-ball clouds In the distance. Other than her curtains, spring had faded away. Summer arrived with warm days and cool nights. Everyone seemed anxious to get outside and enjoy the warmth of the sun but Arnie was conflicted.
Jack Rose, Arnie’s father, paused by her door. “Gorgeous day, isn’t it?” The question was rhetorical of course as her father continued toward the stairs that would lead him to his morning coffee. Grandmother Rose moved in with them when Arnie’s mother passed away. Three years had passed but it still felt like it happened yesterday. People had been kind, but Arnie never wanted to see flowers again. She could no longer tolerate their syrupy sweet smell.
Of course Arnie knew of her mother’s looming fate before anyone else. The message was the first one that frightened her and she clung to her mother hoping it would sway the imminent message. All she could do was wait until others learned what she already knew. Sadly, there was no changing the result. The drunk driver was never caught, but Arnie knew that would be the case.
Arnie quit trying to talk about the messages long ago. Everything was conveniently whisked in the category of coincidence. Arnie was not mature enough to articulate what she knew so she just quit talking about them. Over the last few years the frequency of the messages had decreased. She knew as soon as her mother died she would lose her playroom so Grandma Rose could have a nice room of her own. She packed up her most important books and the stuffed bunny with the floppy ears her mother gave her long before her father explained the need to consolidate her belongings.
She smiled at the squirrels jumping precariously through the oak tree out front. She slipped on her sandals and went downstairs to join her family.
“Your pancakes are ready, my dear.” She loved the way her grandmother smiled with her eyes. “I even warmed the syrup just the way you like it.” Her grandmother kissed Arnie on the forehead as she handed her a plate with three large pancakes. “I hope you’re hungry.”
As she ate her pancakes, Arnie listened to her father and her grandmother talk about the weather. It was a perfect day to just relax with no errands to run and no work to be done. Arnie tried to compartmentalize her thoughts. Should she tell them? What purpose would it serve other than turn a perfectly glorious day into a catastrophe?
After breakfast, Arnie went outside and climbed into the curve of the oak tree. It was a perfect place to give into her thoughts. She thought about her mother and wondered if this was what she felt? Did she know on that day she would breathe her last breath or did it come as a complete surprise?
Who does one tell, when the entire world faces the same fate? Who would believe a thirteen year-old child if she told them today would be the last sunset for the entire planet? Who would believe the sun would lose its grip on this beautiful earth forcing it to be flung into space?
From the tree she watched her father practice on his makeshift putting green. Her grandmother clipped the rose bushes, cutting off the dying blooms. She closed her eyes and wondered if today she might see her mother again.
A hawk appeared out of nowhere and scooped up a small squirrel scampering across the yard. Sunset had come a little early for that little guy.