A Dark Day
One morning, Zoie woke up, but the sun didn’t come up. It was dark, and she thought she’d accidentally woken up in the middle of the night. So, she went to the kitchen for a drink of water. The clock said it was seven o’clock.
It was too dark for seven o’clock. Was the clock wrong? She checked the time on the phone plugged into the outlet next to the counter. It said seven o’clock too. Maybe it was going to be a stormy day? She looked out the window. The sky was dark and clear. She could see stars.
Zoie pinched her arm. She was awake and this was all really weird. Wasn’t her mom usually up by now? “Mom?” Zoie yelled.
“We’re in the living room,” Mom yelled back.
Dad was still home? Shouldn’t he be at work? Zoie hurried into the living room. Dad and Mom were sitting close together on the couch, watching the news on television. “What’s going on?” Zoie asked.
“The sun didn’t come up,” Mom said.
“Why not?” Zoie asked.
“No one knows,” Dad said.
“Why aren’t you at work?” Zoie asked.
“They sent everyone home and closed the nursery,” Dad said. “If the sun doesn’t come up tomorrow, they’re going to have to find special lights for the plants or they’ll die. The boss is going to be researching all day.”
“The schools are all closed, so Zoie and I will be home today too,” Mom said. “I’m so glad I went shopping yesterday. The stores are going to be crazy.”
They ate their breakfast cereal in front of the television and watched the news. According to the reports, the sun had disappeared somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean. The moon was still in the sky, but dimmer. Everyone assumed that meant the sun was somewhere, but no one knew why they couldn’t see it.
Scientists ran calculations and performed experiments, but they couldn’t find any answers. Politicians threatened to fire them. That didn’t make any answers appear either. Meanwhile, people everywhere were panicking, of course.
They rushed to the stores to stockpile food. They fought over loaves of bread and rice and toilet paper. Zoie was glad that her family was safe at home. Her parents tried to make it a fun day. They played board games and made cookies. They had a picnic lunch on the front lawn. It looked like they were out in the middle of the night.
It was all strange and a little scary. Even when her parents tried to make things fun, Zoie could tell that her parents were worried. They checked the news off and on, but no one knew any more. Was it a plot by a mad scientist or an odd natural phenomenon? Everyone had a theory. They made guesses and predictions. And everyone waited to see if the sun would come up tomorrow.
In the end, that’s all anyone could do. The stores were empty. People were warned not to travel. Planes didn’t fly and gas stations closed. People sat on their front steps in the middle of the afternoon and looked up at the sky. It was still dark.
To save electricity, the streetlights went dark. High above, the stars looked close enough to touch. Millions of people who had never seen the stars so bright and close, looked up.
Zoie’s parents stopped checking the television when scientists began to talk about the end of the world and politicians gave speeches about plagues of rats or zombies or flying pigs. That night, the world did not sleep well. At dawn, they were already up waiting. And, somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, the sun reappeared.
When Zoie woke up, the sun was already up. Her dad was at work, and her mom was making breakfast. School wasn’t cancelled. Life went back to normal.
No one was sure why the sun was missing for an entire day. It left everyone checking the sky constantly, to make sure that it was still there. What else were they wrong about? What else might suddenly go wrong?
Far, far away, the moon raised an eyebrow. “Where were you? I had to cover your shift. You should at least have called in sick.”
The sun yawned. “Hey, you get a night off every month. I’ve been there everyday for thousands of years. I needed a day off.”
“Well, let me know next time,” the moon said. “It’s inconvenient when you don’t show up without any warning.”