“What is it about this city that you love so much?” Alice asked Chris.
“I don’t know.” He laughed. “Probably it’s the fact that the sun never sets here. There’s always light and happiness. Probably that’s why they call it ‘Sunrise City’.”
“The real fact is that the sun does set in Sunrise City. There is the normal night and day cycle, there is the normal weather. Everything is very mediocre from this city. The reason why it was called Sunrise City was because some guy came across the sunrise in that city and found that the sunrise there was different from any other sunrise he saw his entire life. Very interesting isn’t it? Well there’s more to that. The guy, who saw that sunrise, soon became the amazing mayor of this amazing town.” There was grin in Chris’ face.
“Amazing. Wow. That was one of the best stories I ever heard.” Alice said in a monotone. It was clear to Chris that she was mocking him.
“Come here!” Chris shouted as he tackles Alice to the soft beach sand. They fell together and laughed. She held both her arms around his neck. They stared each other in the eyes, their happiness clearly shown in their faces. They were both happy in each other’s company and there was nothing that could stop them. The ecstasy of love was running in their brains.
“Do you really want to buy a house here?” Alice asked. Her smile faded a little bit.
“Yeah. Where else do you want to live? New York? DC?” Chris replied.
“No, I’ll live where ever you want to live. As long as we’re together, it’s heaven for me.” Alice said. It was one of the sweetest things that Chris heard. It was music in his ears. She smiled at him; it was a smile that could even shine brighter than the setting sun right next to them. Chris smiled back and kissed her slowly. Alice giggled.
“What? What is it?” Chris asked her, confused.
“You’re such a liar. You said the sun doesn’t set here.” Alice told him.
“I said it does! You weren’t listening.” Chris replied.
They got out from their position and sat down cross legged, the sun setting right beside them. Their legs filled with grains of brown sand. The sky turned orange and as they stared each other in the eyes once again, everything felt like forever. Everything felt like love.
“Answer my question, Chris. What do you love about this city so much?” Alice asked him once again.
Chris looked at the sunset. It reminded him the things that happened a long long time ago.
Sunrise City was a lie. There was a time when it was a lie. There was a time when there was no sun, no light, there was only the night, the darkness that filled and consumed the city itself. There was sadness and despair. There was a disturbed kid who lived nearby. The kid grew in a neighbourhood not too far from town. His mother kept telling him not to stay for too long in the town, for there were evil monsters that lurked in every corner when the night comes. The kid told his mother that he was not scared of the monsters of the dark. He told his mother that there were places safe, places where the monsters could not reach him. Like everything else in the kid’s life, those safe places was also a lie, there was no place where these monsters could not reach him. They were everywhere and they lurked every corner.
The kid lost his father to some other woman that was not his mother. The woman took his father away in a blink of an eye. One day, the kid saw his mom crying near the door, her tears heavy as the judgement of God himself. How much his mother wished that everything could just end, end for her and for her son. But she couldn’t find the strength to do such an act, for such an act cannot be done by her, but can only be done by the will of God. If there was light in the kid’s and the mother’s life, it was not the sunlight that comes by the day, but rather, it was the guiding light that God has shown them in each day of their lives. But that too, can easily be taken away by the dark faculties of mankind.
The kid was right; there were places that were shelter from the monsters. Places that was safe and sound. Like the parking lot in a rooftop of some building, the nearby beach where families gather every weekend, the house he and his mother live in. Those were the places safe from the monsters that lurked, from the darkness that haunted him. Those places gave him light, gave him an area where he can truly see the sun shine on him. But those places were temporary shelter. There was no place truly safe from the grasp of darkness.
“There was a kid named Chris.” Chris started, as his eyes stared through the horizon. The sun was halfway through the sea. The sky was fading its orange colour and started to give way to the shining of the stars above.
“Ooooooohhh, this is going to be interesting.” Alice replied, fascinated.
Chris started to smile, but his eyes were still on the horizon, watching the sun set completely. “It was a long time ago. When everything was......different. Sunrise City wasn’t Sunrise City; rather it was some other city near Miami, Florida. Nothing special, nothing stood out. If there was something that stood out, it was the crime rate in this godforsaken city. God, it was high, and it was the reason why I lost my mother.” Chris said. There was a gloom look in his face.
“Oh, sorry Chris, I....”
“its okay.” Chris interrupted her. Alice’s hands reached to his hands.
“God that was such a long time ago. There was no place safe to be, no place to see the light, no place to be happy about. Everything was just so dark and gloomy.” Chris continued. Alice stared into his eyes. There was sadness and despair and she could see it. She could feel it. But she asked him a question and she would find the answer.
“I grew up outside the city, in a neighbourhood not too far from town. Our house wasn’t that small, it was any normal house, same as the others in that neighbourhood. My dad went for some other woman and left me and my mom to fend for ourselves. My mom... she would cry.... cry a lot. Sometimes even hurt herself.” There was a pause. Chris held the tears in and continued on. Alice’s ears listened to every word he has to say, he hasn’t opened up like this before.
“But she never gave up on me or on herself. There was always church, God, who watched over us. We would go to church and praise the God almighty and thank him for everything he has given us, but even God could not save her. Not God could save her from the bullet that penetrated her body that one dark night. It was the night that I could not forget.” Chris expression turned to anger. His open hand turned into a fist. Sunrise city was not the most perfect city after all and Alice started to see this.
“There was a lot of people gathering around. I remember....” Chris paused. He fought his tears, his emotions, so that he will not show too much, so that he will not show weakness. All his life he hid it under his skin. All the things he didn’t want people to see, who he was before. It was because he was different now. He was someone. But he looked at her eyes, her eyes that showed his reflection and deep inside, he remembered that he was talking to the most important person in his world, the only person he could trust. He could see tears building in her eyes, slowly but surely. He felt the warmth of her hand in his and he had the power now to continue on. “I remember sadness. I never liked to see people crowding around and I was never curious enough to check why they were doing that, but that time. That time was different. I had a feeling that it was something I had to see. There were voices telling me that there was something over that wall of people. Then I saw my mom, lying there, her eyes closed, blood all over her body. I....just... I don’t remember anything then.” Alice tears started to fall. Jake just couldn’t look in her eyes. He was crying. He looked down; tears fell into the sand, marking each drop.
“Everything changed after that. Different family members wanted to take me in. I refused, but it’s not I had any other choice. I was fourteen for crying out loud, what can I do to keep myself alive and kicking? Nothing.” Chris took a moment. Alice held his hand more tightly, making him feel that she’s still there for him. He didn’t need a voice to tell him that. Actions speak louder than words. “I had one condition, however, and that is to stay here. One of the sisters of my mother agreed and told me that she’s going to town with me. She told me that she would take care of me. When my only auntie moved into town, just for me, I felt that there was someone watching over me, telling me that I don’t need to go far just to be safe. I remembered my mom telling me something about God that made me feel safe. ‘God never leaves your side, my son. He will find ways to let you feel that he’s there despite everything else that has happened to you. Whatever happens down here, its humanities creation. Whatever happens that makes you feel safe; it’s God’s willing hand.’ I remember those words and I could understand it better now.” Chris smiled at her, she replied back with a smile, her tears still slowly flowing down her face. She never saw Chris like this before. He was a strong cheerful man, but he has this side of his, hiding deep inside somewhere, just waiting for it to show. Now she sees it. She loved him more, because she felt trusted more than anyone else in this world.
“Why did you decide to stay? You were devastated by the things that happened for you hear. Why did you stay after all those things that had happened to you?” Alice asked.
“You’re right. But there was something that I saw in this city. Something that made me stay.” Chris replied with a smile.
“What is it?” Alice asked curiously.
The sun was setting over the horizon. It was halfway there.
“This. I saw this.” Chris said as he gestured over the horizon. She looked at the sun set and it was beautiful. The sky was orange, the water reflected the orange sky, the birds flying over the horizon, and them two, sitting there in the beach appreciating the beauty of this world.
“Whoever that mayor is, he’s damn right.” Alice said and laughed. Chris laughed with her, tears of joy coming out from his face. He looked at her and saw how beautiful she was. Her smile, her tender red lips, her dark crimson black hair. She was perfect.
“Hey, that mayor you’re talking about. He’s here right now.” Chris said smiling. He pointed his finger into his heart. Alice smiled and kissed him.