The Everlasting Meal and the Disappearance of the Sun
—fiction by Stephen Barone‏

Primed with confidence, I entered the event space in which the reunion was taking place. The Emcee stood above those gathered together in reminiscence as his mind swept across the crowd probing for a target.

"Bobby Kincaid! Or do you now go by Bob? You still look like a Bobby to me you lucky son of a bitch! Am I right ladies? You look like you were knocked unconscious at the home coming game and just woke-up on the field five minutes ago. Be careful around your daughter's friends; just because you can, doesn’t mean you should!"

He was right. But it wasn't just Bobby. Everyone had remained the same but some had weathered harsher storms. Somehow the elements had taken effect while time had gone missing. For example, Heather Samms was last seen sneaking her lunch into the girls' lavatory in order to evade remarks about her weight. I now stood ten feet from that same person who only moments ago felt secure enough to exit the restroom. Evidence of the lunch she had eaten lingered in the form of orange flakes sprinkled around the perimeter of her mouth.

My hand slipped loose from my wife's grip as I wandered, gazing spellbound at faces, attempting to fill in the gaps between then and now: Lucy Sawyer had laid herself down inside a tanning bed with a bottle of bourbon, she awoke fifteen hours ago. Tim Danner had fallen asleep on top of a pile of money as negotiations resumed their course. He rose this morning with most of his fortune intact but his hair now white and his stomach lined with ulcers. Amber King missed her connecting flight. She ambled along the concourse before deciding to lie down on the floor and snuggle up to her backpack. Her name was called to gate 36. She now felt an urgent need to settle down and move to the country.

I wondered how I appeared. Where had I laid down to rest? Did those like Kevin Burns who leapt off the St. Johns Bridge believe they would land here wide awake inside the convention center?

We made promises to call, email, and text one another. My wife and I walked outside to our car, each of us now accompanied by a light buzz. She offered to drive sensing that my mind was elsewhere.

We detoured through the old neighborhood. My attention was drawn to an empty plot of land where twenty four years ago, Alan Potts and his family sat down for dinner and the earth opened up beneath them. I see him still fifteen years of age. The chatter at the dinner table having ceased long ago. He and his family feign interest in their meal while making an effort to ignore the disappearance of the sun.

Stephen Barone resides in Portland, OR where he is currently working towards a masters in special education. His work has been featured in Chiron Review.