The Last Sunrise

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic


Papa is dying. But he has some wise words for little Olivia.

Submitted: September 30, 2017

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Submitted: September 30, 2017

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The Last Sunrise

 

  It wasn’t every morning that Olivia was up this early. But the unusual brightness streaming from the curtains jarred her awake, causing her heart to pound with delight. It had been forever since she’d seen the sun.

The usual heavy morning fog was replaced by a sudden burst of sunshine, oranges and pinks blending together in the sky like an intricate painting. Through the window of her bedroom, Olivia could see the sun beginning to rise, something she knew Papa would want to see. There was something about morning skies that intrigued him; he would be proud to see something so beautiful when lately his days had been gloomy and dark.

She raced out of her bedroom, stumbling down the hallway until she reached Papa, who lay back in his rocking chair, facing the picture window. “Papa, do you see what I see?” she squealed as she entered the living room.

Papa craned his neck to glance into her eyes, a simple move that made him wince. He was sick and, as he’d told Olivia, he was in pain everywhere. “Yes, dear,” he croaked. “I see it.”

She took a seat on the floor in front of his rocking chair, eager for a better view. “Isn’t it beautiful?”

He nodded and leaned forward to rest his hand on her shoulder. “It is. This is going to be Papa’s last sunrise, Olivia.”

Olivia was puzzled. “What do you mean, Papa? We keep the windows open every day!”

Papa chuckled in his rough and scratchy voice. “I know, dear. But my time is coming today. I need to go back up there.” He pointed to the sky. “I’ll be up there with the sunrise instead.”

Her gaze followed his finger, her brain a jumbled mess. “How are you gonna get there? And how come you get to be with the sunrise and I don’t?”

Papa didn’t miss a beat. “Very simple, sweetie. Last night, some angels came into my bedroom and talked to me about it. They said it was the only way to cure my sickness, so tonight, they’re going to take me on a road trip to a place called Heaven.”

“Heaven?”

“Yes, Heaven. It’s up in the sky, right over there.” This time, he pointed to a spot in the sky near the sun. “That’s where I’m going to live. One day you’ll live there, too.”

Olivia twirled her blonde locks around her finger, a smile stretching across her face. “I do?”

It was a contagious smile; Papa’s suddenly matched hers. “Of course. Everyone does. But it’ll be a long time before it’s your turn to move in.”

Olivia’s heart fell. “Why?” she asked, scooting closer to the rocking chair.

“You’re still young.” Papa patted her head, his face twisting in pain. “When you get old like me, the angels will come talk to you when the time is right. Then they’ll bring you to come see me, and I’ll be at the gates waiting.”

She could feel her eyes welling up with fresh tears. “So does that mean I can’t see you until then?”

Papa nodded sadly. “It does. But don’t worry. I’ll watch over you every day from the sky. And if you want to say hi, all you have to do is wave.”

Olivia didn’t know what to say; Papa was leaving! He was moving away! She rose to her feet, wrapping her arms around him even though he released a grunt as she did so. “I don’t want you to go!” she cried.

Papa started to tear up, too. “I know,” he said soothingly, rubbing her back. “But promise you’ll think about me every time you see the sunrise?”

Olivia hesitated, pulling out of the embrace. “Promise.”

“Pinky promise?” Papa held up his pinky, his eyes smiling at her.

Her tears dried as she hooked her pinky around his, grinning. “Pinky promise.”

 

***

 

The next morning, the sun was brighter than ever. The second day in a row.

Olivia raced out of bed faster than she ever had before, excitement coursing through her. “Papa, look at the sunrise!” she cried as she reached the living room.

But the rocking chair sat empty.

“Papa?” She gripped the edges of the rocking chair and peeked around the corner, but he wasn’t there. Panic enveloped her. He wasn’t there!

She whirled around to see Mommy and Daddy on the couch, their eyes red. The sight caused the truth to finally click into her brain. “Did Papa already go to Heaven?” she asked, lunging into her parents’ arms.

Mommy nodded, swiping at her eyes. “He left in the middle of the night.”

Olivia was breathing hard. He was gone! She’d even heard the angels come in the middle of the night, but fell back asleep! “We have to go outside!” she exclaimed, pointing toward the door.

She leaped out of Mommy’s lap and sprinted for the staircase, her tiny hands reaching for the doorknob. “Honey, where are you going?” Daddy asked, rising from the couch to follow her.

“Come say hi to Papa!”

She was out the door long before Mommy and Daddy were, forgetting her shoes in the process. Rocks penetrated the bottom of her feet, but she ignored the pain as she made her way to the front yard, stepping into the cool grass.

Mommy and Daddy appeared behind her as she glanced up at the sunrise, her hand shielding her eyes. “Papa’s up there!” she said excitedly.

Mommy smiled, her hands resting on Olivia’s shoulders. “I know. Say hi.”

And, just as she’d promised Papa, she waved.


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