The Sun Ray.
- Are you ready?
-When will it happen?
- Do scientists know for sure that it will happen exactly today?
- Do they really know?
- Wait for a while. You’ll see it yourself.
Like golden fish caught with an old worn out net, excited children were pushing each other, trying to see the sun through a small illuminator as clearly as possible. And where is it? Meanwhile the rain was still pouring. Large drops were crashing against titanic surface of a huge room, which was half in the ground like pirate treasure. And then these drops turned into a firework of dancing and spinning particles of rain. It was going the same way for many years, with one exception. The scientists that had flown here from Earth discovered one regularity: every eight years the pouring rain used to stop only for a tiny period of time – for only 24 hours. It had always been this way here on Venus. The noisy classroom was full of kids whose parents had flown here to live on this wild lonely planet.
- It’s going to stop!
- Just have a look at it! It’s really going to stop!
Exulted and happy, the children holding each other by the icy cold hands were dancing and singing in a round. They were calling their teacher to come out, interrupting each other.
The day before the kids recited poems and read short stories about the sun, where it was described as a hot fire in a fireplace and as a yellow overripe lemon.
My hands are touched by the sun
The golden beam is coming through my palm
My heart was waiting for this day
The desolation went away.
Marilyn Bell recited her poem quietly. It was still raining. It seemed as if somebody in the Heaven had forgotten to turn off the tap and the water flowed here. An untrusting whisper was heard among the kids. Tom Alison stood up and said loudly:
-It’s not your poem, you couldn’t have written it! Why are you telling a lie?
-But it’s my poem…It is true…- Marilyn tried to justify herself.
-Stop, Tom, - the teacher said gently but strictly.
But this was yesterday. And today the rain must stop. It will be for the second time, when the kids see the sun. All of them are above ten; when they saw the sun for the first time they were two. They scarcely have clear memories; maybe they have foggy image and descriptions from the old books of their fathers.
Morgan Mid and Rosalind Wilkins hurried to call Ms. Evans, who was writing postcards, made by children for their parents. Her loud voice was heard from the depth of the room, calling everybody to put on clothes and make up pairs.
The children finally managed to line up. Shouting and stumbling, they went on pushing each other. Only Marilyn wasn’t in a pair. She was standing alone and watching sadly her happy classmates. She had no friends, because she was writing amazing poems and novels, which even Mr. Evans loved. Marilyn’s biggest ‘crime’ was that she had flown here two years ago and now she was enjoying the sun more than others. But why does nobody want to think about their ruined planet, which was under the asteroids’ attack?
The seas and the oceans are empty, the forests and the steppes are burnt. The mountains, even the mountains, these huge giants, are destroyed.
What to tell about the people? They were merely small creatures, living on the planet. Somebody died trying to finish his presentation for an angry boss; somebody couldn’t drink his strong morning coffee. Somebody met his death in a comfortable armchair, caring about his appearance, somebody slept forever in his dreams, and somebody joined the majority on his way to school or to work, in a heavy traffic or in an empty café, on a sunny beach or in the snowy mountains.
But some people managed to survive. Marilyn’s parents were taxi drivers, but they had unusual routes - Earth-Saturn, Earth-Jupiter, and Earth-Venus. Only on these three planets people managed to survive, like small beads, from the dead blue sphere.
Mr. and Ms. Bell were liked a ring buoy for people who were one step in the grave. Not only did they transport the survivors but also provided them with good living facilities.
For two years that Marilyn had spent on Venus her parents were doing their job. But a month ago a disaster struck the little girl. Tom Alison accidentally heard Ms. Evans talking to a man, who had never been there before. He was dressed into the light-colored smoking, his features were soft and his eyes were in tears. He told that Marilyn’s parents had died under mysterious circumstances, on the way to Venus. He put a small package into Ms. Evans hands and left.
That day Mary didn’t give her toys to Tom, because he was always breaking them and telling that they had already been broken. He started shouting at her and even pushed Mary. She staggered but didn’t tell anything. Then Tom grinned and said:
- I will take your toys by force! You won’t tell anybody, because your parents are dead! You will die soon, people like you won’t live too long!
The girl’s heart sank. She was going to burst into tears.
- You are alone as usual. Won’t you stand with us? Of course, you have seen the sun hundred times!
-Yeah! She saw it, but we didn’t!
These words made Marilyn come back to the reality. She was watched by forty wicked eyes.
- Let’s lock her in the store-room, and she won’t see sun!-somebody cried.
-Yes! Let’s do it! She has seen enough!
-Hey, guys, take her to the store-room, before Ms. Evans comes!
Marilyn watched them silently. There was no malice in her eyes no offence - there was only all-absorbing pain. Somebody’s hands squeezed her wrist. They drew her to the dark room. She was pushed on to the cold floor. She saw the light coming through the door; this ray became thinner and thinner. Finally it disappeared at all.
Ms. Evans instructed the children and announced that they would spend outside exactly three hours. The teacher managed to unlock the huge door and all the children except Marilyn went out to the yard. The landscape was picturesque. Tom Alison, Morgan Meed, Rosalinda Wilkins and all the others who had locked Marilyn, all who had seen this scene but had done nothing to prevent the injustice, they all couldn’t take their eyes off the beauty and breathed deeply the warm air. The sun was shining like a light bronze. The kids ran towards the coming summer. Flowers and trees started to bloom, it seems like the earth here was covered with a huge green blanket. Little birds woke up and whistled merry songs. Everything became alive all of a sudden.
- Don’t run away! Remember, we have only three hours otherwise we won’t manage to hide,-Ms. Evans voice was heard, she was like a small child, running to the forthcoming magic.
The sun was stroking the kids by their cheeks. It made them put off their jackets, burning their pale fingers. The children were looking at it until tears appeared in their eyes. They were trying to save this moment in their memories.
- This sun is much better than ours, because it is real!
- Of course it is better. It’s like a big gold coin, and we can buy the entire world for it!
- No! It is a big tasty cake!
Maybe it is a compass, which shows the way to the stars sailors. And suddenly…At the peak of the merry running and carefree laughing one girl cried plaintively: “The rain!’
Rare cold drops broke down on cheeks, shoulders and hands. The children silently looked at the sky. Someone even started to cry. Mrs. Evans rapidly collected the children who were dispersed on the yard just like strawberries on the field. They ran to the refuge. Kids’ faces turned grey, the light in their eyes disappeared. In the end, the massive door was closed.
- Will we have to wait for another eight years? - Judy O’Bryan asked quietly.
-Yes, - Ms. Evans answered in despair and hurried to her room. Someone suddenly remembered about Marilyn and called her for dinner, but nobody answered. They were afraid to look at each other and silently stared at the window. It was raining again. The children were puzzled; they stood silently staring at the floor.
In the end, one girl exclaimed, “Marilyn, Marilyn Bell…Why are we standing? Let’s go!”
Under the cold rain they slowly went through the dark corridor to the little store-room, into which they had pushed Mary. There was no sound behind the door. They pulled the bolt slowly and let Marilyn out. She was completely frozen, and was hardly alive. The guys rushed to escape. Only the little girl, who remembered about Mary, didn’t move.
She took Marilyn’s palm and put something into it - something round and rough, but it seemed so familiar to her! Mary started to examine the gift. It was a tiny Earth with a lighting fire and a flag, which marked the place of her house. She took this invaluable gift and put it close to her heart, and then she fell on the floor and passed away without a sound. There was a smile on her face, shining like a sun ray.