“So, the solar eclipse is today.”
“Sounds like a great time to bring Karen back.”
I laugh so hard that I double over. Bucky grins, clearly pleased with himself.
This is what best friends are about. Enjoying each other’s company. It’s as simple as that.
Bucky and I have always been best friends. Ever since the day we met. We’ve always enjoyed each other’s company. Always.
Nothing would ever change that.
Our small school gave us the day off today, in honor of the eclipse. There’s a lot we could do, and a lot we can do, but in spite of all that, we end up doing our usual.
We swing by the gas station, grab some beef jerky and Dr. Pepper, and we head out to the meadow.
It’s pretty sunny, to be honest. Slightly hot. Maybe a little muggy. Not an unusual day.
Except for the sun and moon. They’re strange. Usually, they’re not so aware of each other, but today, they seem magnetized. Insistent on getting close. Wanting to touch, just for the briefest moment.
I really wish they weren’t so adamant. Then the eclipse would never happen.
“Is it bad?” I ask.
Bucky shrugs. “No idea. The eclipse never brings you back once you go in.”
“Is it a sacrifice do you think? Or do you think you get taken to a different dimension?”
Another shrug. “I don’t know, but I hope it takes me to a different dimension. That sounds a whole lot better than being sacrificed. Unless it’s some weird hell dimension. If that’s the case, I’d rather get sacrificed.”
It’s supposed to be kind of funny, but it isn’t. And it doesn’t make me feel any better.
The sun and moon are drifting lazily toward one another. Two curious, but wary, animals. Driven together by instinct, only for a moment.
Our time was running out.
“Here,” I say, and hand him a small pack.
It has another Dr. Pepper in it, as well as beef jerky and chips and gum. “In case you get to another dimension and they don’t have what you need.”
Bucky laughs and takes the pack. “Thanks.”
I just nod.
I can’t talk because my throat is going dry.
They’re overlapping some now, and my eyes are swiveling between the sky and Bucky. My brain is moving a million miles an hour, wondering when it is that the sky will swallow him.
He notices and gives me an encouraging thump on the shoulder. “Don’t worry. I won’t disappear until the sun is completely covered.”
It’s good info, but not encouraging. “Why does it have to be you Buck?”
My question seems to echo inside him a moment, resonating with his own mind. He sighs.
“Honestly, I’m not sure. But my family says it has to be me this time. And I trust them. Our family has been feeding the sky for a long, long time. If anyone knows what has to be done, it’s Pops.”
I can’t argue with him. I know his grandfather well, and he’s certainly the wisest man I’ve ever met.
The reluctance builds inside me with nowhere to go.
I won’t ever see Bucky again.
Looking up, my heart plummets.
The sun and the moon are completely entwined from my viewpoint. Their light caught up in one another.
The eclipse is complete.
And, as promised, he’s no longer there.
Bucky is gone.
No flashing light, no ominous sounds, no waving goodbye as he floats up into the sky.
The dirt gets darker as my tears sprinkle down on it. Slowly, I begin clearing away my mess, and the mess Bucky left behind.
My heart is so heavy it’s hard to move.
For the next three hours, I sit on the bench and stare blankly upward. I don’t notice when the sun and moon stop touching. I don’t notice when they begin exiting the scene. I don’t notice when clouds move in and begin showering the earth.
Because it doesn’t matter.
Not in the wake of this natural disaster.
Bucky is gone.
My right hand. My favorite Monopoly pal. My confidant. Gone. Never to be heard from again.
I can only take comfort in this:
Bucky is my best friend.
And nothing will ever change that.
Picking up our trash, I make a stop at the garbage before I get back in my car. Once inside, I lock the doors and watch the rain.
The pounding water on the roof hides my sobs well.
Author’s note: When I was a kid, my best friend and I went through this year long period where we would watch The Watcher in the Woods whenever she came over. I loved it.