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As the Sun Goes Down

By Daniela Hernandez

  1. Pink Sunset
    Pink Sunset
    By Katie Hutnick

In a nameless town from a far-away place, there lived bubble-wrapped families burrowed in their pretty houses with candy-hued walls and white picket-fences. Children, framed with golden haloes, ran happily among the crack-free sidewalks as they pretended they could take off if they ran fast enough. Their tinkling giggles were heard as they fell in immaculate rose gardens from jumping far too high. Wives with coiffed hair and a powdered nose were held tightly against their husband’s chests, slow dancing to a melody playing in an elegant phonograph. Husbands, dressed sharply in black suits and polished shoes, held their spouses’ hands like an unbreakable chain for their love was eternal. They had never missed dinner with their trophy children and their doll-eyed wives. 

However, when the sun went down, children, once awash in ethereal light, now hid in dark corners and cradled a cigarette between their lips in an attempt to prove that not only their parents could destroy them. They could do it too. They peeled away the smile and voice that reported tornado damage and narrated the side effects of small white pills. Their mouths formed words they were not taught to speak as they fell into an abyss of where they were somehow whole and broken, away from the glass case where they are nothing but golden stars and prized trophies. Men, always sleekly dressed, took off their tie and jacket to kiss a stranger with a name they don’t remember, hoping to a find a spark of youth in them for their skin and bones had seen some better days. Wives, preparing dinner for tomorrow, gripped the knife until their knuckles turned alabaster as they heard their spouses enter far too loud for them to be sober. Their stomps rattled their paper-thin house and the wives thought that maybe people were only meant to sleep together six feet underground.  

With chapped lips and dark half-moons under their eyes, the children return to plastic lives in a cardboard house. They smoothed their wrinkled clothing and removed the dirt from under their nails, imagining what it would be like to fly away and never look back. The wives covered their cracked porcelain skin with powder and wondered if perfection was simply eyelashes latticed with cobwebs and a laugh that always lasted a little too long and a little too hard; the knife lay forgotten in the sink but always within reach. Husbands rose too early, realizing that they could be wasting their now like they wasted their before on silly things like a first kiss and fantasy romance. But as the sun rose, sparkling children kissed their mothers’ flawless cheeks goodbye as their fathers held their wives’ hand, trying to reminisce what it felt like to vibrate with sprightly energy, full of potential. The wives’ doll-eyes screamed for help in a way that was audible to all, but nobody listened as they wrapped themselves safely in bubble-wrap and returned to their perfect lives in their perfect town.