Megan Elder Evans
"Light Amidst the Darkness"
Jo sat on the mountain summit, her eyes cast upward at the darkening sky. Behind the ebony moon, only a sliver of the sun remained, growing ever smaller as the seconds passed. She fought the burning wall of tears behind her eyes. She would not cry. Nothing could change what had happened.
Five months ago, she had stood at the airport terminal gate wringing her hands. Zack’s air force uniform glared at her, reminding her he belonged to them first.
Zack rubbed her cheek, kissed her. “I promise you,” he said, “in five months, I will meet you on that mountain top, and it will be the best day of our lives.”
Jo could only nod. Her words stuck in her throat.
Another kiss, and Zack was pulled into the sea of blue uniforms, all headed to that hell on earth ISIS had created.
“In five months, darling! Count on it!” he shouted back.
Now she sat alone, the letter regrettably informing her Zack’s plane had been shot down clutched in her hand. There would be no body to bury. Only ashes, metal shards, and a wing remained of the F-15 E fighter jet.
Beads of light like crystals flashed where the golden crescent had been. A silver ring hung in the black sky. Wherever Zack was now, Jo hoped he could see this. She shivered. A cool breeze brushed across her face, tousling her hair. She imagined Zack, his spirit, sitting beside her.
“I wish you could have kept your promise.”
The beads burst into a shimmering diamond ring. Jo’s jaw slackened. Her eyes widened.
“Have you ever seen a more beautiful sight?” she said.
Leaves crunched behind her. She spun around.
For a moment, there was only silence.
“Zack?” The letter fell. She ran forward.
He held his arms out and caught her. He kissed her forehead, her cheeks, her lips.
“They said you were dead. You were shot down. How did you—”
Zack placed a finger over her lips. “Look, you’re missing it.” He pointed at the eclipse.
The diamond had disappeared, leaving the sun’s corona hanging in the sky.
Jo turned and took off her glasses. Zack wrapped his arms around her waist. She laid her hands over his. Warm, firm hands. He really was here.
“I thought you were dead.”
“I would have been. I saw the missile coming and ejected myself.”
“How did you get back? They sent a letter.”
Zack brushed his cheek across hers. “I stumbled into the nearest base two days after they sent it. They put me on the next flight home. I made a promise to you, and I had no intention of breaking it.”
She turned into him, burying her face in his chest. “Did you see that diamond? It was beautiful,” she said. She laughed. Of all the things to say, that was the best response she could give.
Zack stroked her shoulders. “I did. But it was not the most beautiful I’ve seen.”
Jo pulled back and looked at him. A grin played on his lips. He knelt down and reached into his jacket pocket. From it, he pulled an aquamarine box. He opened it.
Totality had ended. The sun’s rays burst forth again, striking the diamond in his hand.
“Joanne Elizabeth Hurley, will you marry me?”
The wall of long-held-back tears broke, streaming down her face. “Yes.” She nodded and held out her hand. “Yes.”
Zack slipped the ring on her finger. “I’m thinking next June 25th for the wedding.”
Jo knitted her eyebrows. “Why that date?”
“There will be an eclipse over Fiji. You’ve always wanted a destination wedding, right?”
Jo smiled. “Just as long as the eclipse doesn’t outshine your bride.”