Winning Write-A-Thon 2024 Entries: Honorable mention

“Eclipsed by Love” by Victoria Chen
Winning Write-A-Thon 2024 Entries: Honorable mention

I loved you. 


Maximilien’s eyes bore into me as I ran, away from my home, away from the burning-down trees, the splintering glass, the hundred million little tiny pieces of my never-to-be-put-back-together heart. It didn’t matter that he was miles away now, that there was no way he could see me. His ghost would haunt me until I took my last breath. His words would ring in my ears, tearing me apart from the inside out. And his eyes—those beautiful, jet black eyes, ringed with gold like the most perfect of eclipses,—


I pushed the thoughts away, hot, shameful tears stinging my cheeks. How dare he accuse me of betraying him? How dare he stay to act as a savior in my hometown, carrying children out of the rubble, helping families evacuate, while I had to run away like a fugitive? They would think I was dead. Or worse, they would think it was all my fault.


I didn’t know where I was going, not exactly. But I should’ve known that there was only one place I would end up, after it was all over. On the cramped little cave at the edge of the cliffs, looking out over the barren, endless desert that had once been a great, impassable sea. And when I got there, I sat, my legs dangling precariously over the edge. I might fall, that logical part of my brain reprimanded. I might die, and my bones would one day be ground into pieces so small that they’d be indistinguishable with grains of sun-bleached sand. But I was too numb to care. 


When we were younger, Max and I called these The Treasure Caves. We spent burning hot afternoons chasing each other through the network of grottoes, our long, languid shadows flowing in and out as we ran, as if they were the dancing spirits of the natives who had long ago inhabited this area. Max was always convinced that there was something more to find in these caves, beyond the sea glass and shells. Something big, he’d say to me, as we lay together under the rocky overhangs, relishing the growing coolness of the late evenings, something special


Until yesterday, I’d been certain that Max was right. Because although we’d never found any physical treasure in those caves, we’d found something infinitely better. 


First friendship. 


Then love.


It should’ve ended there. Me and Max and his spell-binding eyes, reminding me that I was his sun, his moon, his universe, his everything.


When one celestial object moved in the path of another, the sky darkened. The temperature fell. But none of it was supposed to matter, not when we were together, when he was my light and my warmth and my everything. 


I watched now, as the sun rose over the horizon. On any other day, the gentle orange glow bathing everything around me would’ve felt like a comforting blanket. But today, it only felt like a rough, condescending sack shoved over my head, forcing me to confront my own blindness and my own stupidity from the past few days.


For eighteen years, the thought of our individual selves being eclipsed by our love for each other had kept me from the brink on the hardest of days. But now, inches from plummeting off the cliff, with no one to save me, stop me, I couldn’t help but think—what was it like when you weren’t in the centre of the eclipse?


What was it like when you were just another insignificant speck of cold, dark, blackness, too far from the light to benefit from the splendour of the celestial show going on a lifetime away? My heart clenched, thinking of how small, how insignificant, how cold and dark and far removed from the light I felt in this moment.


If I let myself fall, who would mourn me. 


Not those who already thought I was dead. 


Not those who thought this, everything, anything—had been my fault.


Not Max.


And, I realised as I leaned closer and closer to the brink, farther and farther from the treasure I thought we’d found, not myself.


I let go of the stones around me, feeling my fingernails scrape against the rough surface for the very last time. 


I tipped forward, down, over the edge. 


Let the universe eclipse me. I thought as I fell, wind whooshing past me, knocking the breath from my lungs.


I expected to see the darkness.


But I didn’t expect the last thing I saw to be the ring of gold, as perfect as any eclipse. And Max’s lips, whispering—


I loved you. 

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