Bernard Reed

Suntan

Gone is the self-centering around a single brazen image. You are thinking about nothing else when the shadows start to hum overhead, your belly suddenly cool and you open your eyes on an eclipse.

You suntan all summer but it is never enough. You’re only in the city for the season. The park is wide-open with buildings through the trees, reminding you of other parks you’ve visited in your life. Hotter than it’s been in years. Julio is with you when they appear, the humming barges that block the sun. You’re talking about ambient music when it starts, gaseous, wire-thin, “like the concert we were at last night.” But you are pressed back against the grass and the earth is sideways, the sun right in front of you until it isn’t. It might be a cloud at first, although there isn’t even any wind.

At the concert last night, in a bookstore, the windows rattled and novels started popping off the shelves. The police showed up, a fire truck. People in the suburbs reported tremors, more than the usual caterwauling. You and Julio snuck out the back door. One of your favorite pastimes is coming up with faux-profound things to say. “The unobtrusive innocence of Quailey’s atonal patterning induces a cosmic Weltschmerz.” The two of you giggled down the alleyway and onto the street, where you kissed each other, made your way around the neighborhood to avoid the sirens.

People are lifting up their phones, walking backwards. In your view there are three, aligned in a squadron formation. Against the sun they are only shapes, dark undersides. Almost immediately there are helicopters, small as gnats. You say to Julio, “There are already so many things to think about.”

 

Bernard Reed lives and writes in Chicago. On Twitter he’s @bernardreed.