Shallow Dance

by Matty Sullivan

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The Fool and the Falling Sun

Finally it became too much.

He walked away—far away—and when he found a quiet place to sit, he sat down. He was outside and he was the only one there and it was nice. It was good. Nobody was talking to him, nobody was looking at him. The waves were gentle.

How nice, he thought. Maybe I’ll just sit here for a while, and maybe something will happen. Something different. Then again, maybe  nothing will happen. Maybe I’ll just sit here and relax, because this is the place for me. My place. My spot.

So he sat there, in his place. And he listened to the gentle waves and he felt the whispers of the wind on his face, and he relaxed. It was good.

Maybe I’ll die, he thought.

But he didn’t die. Instead, he sat there—alive—for a very long time. Days rolled by and the world moved on and the same things which had always happened continued to happen, but now they were happening far away from  him and he was at peace. He didn’t move.

Then, finally—after a very long time—something different happened.

The sun fell out of the sky. It landed in front of him with a thump.

He looked at it. “Okay,” he said, and he picked it up. He held it. It was soft and warm and it fit perfectly in the palm of his hand. He laughed. “Okay.” He tossed it lightly into the air, and when it came back down he caught it. It felt good.

For a long time—a very long time—he sat in his place and lightly tossed the sun over and over into the air, catching it each time it came back down. It was good. It was relaxing. Nobody was talking to him and nobody was looking at him. He was happy.

Time passed. The world turned.

He slept. The sun was his pillow and he slept on the sand.

When he woke up seventeen years later, the sun was still there. He decided it was time to walk. So he stood up and said goodbye to the sun.

“Goodbye, sun,” he said. “It’s time for you to go back.”

“No,” said the sun. “Take me with you.”

“Okay,” he said. He picked up the sun and put it in his pocket and he began walking.

After walking a while, he met an old man on the road. The old man was crying.

“Why are you crying?” he asked.

“Because,” said the old man. “I am sad.”

“Why are you sad?”

“Because I remember a time when the sun was in the sky. But that was long ago. Now it is gone and nobody knows where it went or whether it will ever return.”

“Don’t cry,” he said. “And don’t be sad either, for the sun is not gone. In fact, I have it here in my pocket.” And he took the sun from his pocket and showed it to the old man.

But the old man did not believe him. “That’s not the sun. It can’t be, for the sun is far too large to fit into your pocket, or in your hand.”

“I tell you this is the sun. It fell out of the sky and landed right in front of me.”

“You are a fool,” said the old man. “You are a fool.”

The old man walked away.

So he put the sun back into his pocket and he kept walking. A while later, he met an old woman on the road. She was also crying. When he asked her why, she said she missed the good old days when the sun was still in the sky.

“Don’t be sad, for I have the sun right here.”  He showed it to her and she was amazed.

“The sun!” she said.

“Yes.”

“Why is it in your hand?”

“I don’t know,” he said. “It fell out of the sky and landed on the sand in front of me.”

“Well, put it back!” she cried.

So he held the sun up toward the empty sky, but it stayed in his hand.

“Throw the dammed thing!”

So he threw it, but it came back down. He caught it.

“Do it again!” she cried. “Harder!”

So he threw it with all his might, but it came back down.

The old woman went crazy. She screamed and cursed and spat. “By all of the terrible and wretched gods!” she cried. “Give it to me! I’ll throw the damned thing up there!” And she grabbed for the sun—but as soon as she touched it, it burned her into a little pile of ashes and she died.

He was confused. He picked up the sun from the ground where she had dropped it and then he kicked the pile of ashes into the wind.

He walked on. And everywhere he went, he met people who complained about the empty sky and who lamented the long-lost sun. When he showed the people the sun sitting in his hand, they were unhappy. Every one of them. They cursed him, spat upon him, called him terrible names. They chased him from town to town with sticks and with stones and threatened to kill him.

He stayed confused. Before long, he began avoiding people. He stayed away from the towns, and if he was on the road and he saw another person he would duck into the forest and hide there until they had passed by. This continued for a time, and then one day he ducked into the forest and decided that he would stay there. He liked the forest. Nobody was talking to him and nobody was looking at him. He was alone.

It was good. It was relaxing. He sat in the shade beneath the trees and he listened to the silence and he enjoyed the stillness. And when he got bored, he would take the sun from his pocket and hold it in his hand. Then he would toss it lightly into the air, and when it came back down he would catch it. For hours and hours and days and days he would do this.

And he was happy.

Then, one day—after many years—he threw the sun lightly into the air, and it didn’t come back down. Instead it flew up and away from him. He watched it go. It soared up above the trees and above the clouds and finally it reached the top of the sky. And when it was as high as it could go, it stopped.

And it stayed.

He looked up at it, and he smiled.

“Okay,” he said.