From Issue 22: "There Will Be More Sunrises" by Susan L. Leary (Nonfiction)

There Will Be More Sunrises                                                                 

Susan L. Leary

Reading Time: 1.5 minutes

"There Will Be More Sunrises" originally appeared in Issue 22 of Tahoma Literary Review. The title paired with the blank space around what is said gives this piece a special searing gut punch. Each of those quarters end up weighing way more than the fraction of an ounce at which they'd balance the scale.

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Ann Beman
Nonfiction editor


My twelve-year-old brother wants to show me three quarters now superglued outside the entranceway to the 7-Eleven, so on a day in June, he walks me through the yard and into a fragrant admixture of honeysuckle and gasoline. As I look to where he points, the silver of the coins gleams in the sun, an automated bell dinging with each swift swing of the door. 

It’s an experiment, he says. Whose fate is it to crouch to the ground and scrape their fingers against the cement? Whose fate is it to be fooled? 

Though I do not know if the gesture is more imagined or true, I have seen my brother’s face like this before: awash in sunrise, cleverness brimming inside his cheeks. 

We decide to spend the afternoon on the experiment, and planted side-by-side on a bench twenty or so feet from the door, we witness who we come to call the fateless, those so thoroughly engaged in the routine particulars of their day that the quarters remain unseen. In the Florida heat, my brother’s blue-tinted sunglasses failing to hide what, hours later, he will offer plainly: Disappointment can be so rude

As profound as my brother can be, I do not tell him that the people buying scratch-offs and cold drinks are more beautiful than the sun. Each one rising and falling with the light, unaware that they, too, are awestriking and splendid. Unaware that to live is to exist at the threshold between the miraculous and the mundane. 

Because there will always be more sunrises. With each one, a boy slowly vanishing from a seat beside me on a bench. With each one, a clever boy growing prouder and more suspicious by the year. As when every dollar must be tucked inside the velvet lining of a music box. As when it becomes ritual to study the size of my brother’s pupils, the irises opening to accommodate the drugs. In folklore, quarters were placed over the eyes of the dead to ensure safe passage into the underworld. A guarantee of a good fate, though nothing that is good should be dead. 

Forgive me, then, for making more of a moment in which I asked my brother a question—Did you put these coins here?—and do not assume he is lying.

Reprinted with permission of the author

Leary had this to say about her piece:

My brother was a deeply inquisitive and clever person, always surprising me with his unique wisdom about the world in ways that were incredibly amusing. When we were younger, that cleverness always represented his innocence to me and his contentment with life. To watch that slowly vanish over the years was incredibly heartbreaking, but in the wake of his passing, I realize his cleverness was always there, on even his most difficult days. And though I haven’t been back to the scene of the experiment in quite a long time, I wonder, too, if those quarters are still there.

Susan L. Leary is the author of Contraband Paradise (Main Street Rag, 2021) and This Girl, Your Disciple (Finishing Line Press, 2019), and she teaches English Composition at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, FL.

Website:  Twitter: @susanlleary