Tiny tree frogs croaked in trees covered with thick moss. Their voices started off as single chirps, but slowly their calls harmonized. The frogs created a song that set the mood for the dying light. A young girl sat on the edge of a wooden dock and listened to their songs. The dock creaked as the girl’s bare feet dangled above the water. A Canon camera hung from her neck. Above the marsh grass, the sun fell from the sky and bled pink and orange.
Her task was simple. Her father had asked her to capture the sunset for every night he had been gone. Three months had passed and Flora May had collected ninety-one pictures of the sun escaping the sky. Every time the sun set she was filled with dread. Night after night she watched the sun leave the sky, and it reminded her how her own father had left her. Didn’t the sun realize how lonesome the nights were without his presence?
The girl aimed her camera at the streaked sky. She hadn’t wanted to wait for the replacements to come, for the moon and his children were only a reflection of her father. Flora placed her finger on the shiny button and squinted through the lens. The sun had just slipped beneath the Earth when she snapped the picture. Ninety-two.
Flora May remembered the night her father had left. He sat with her at the kitchen table. She stared at her father’s face as if it held the answer to her troubles. “But why are you leaving?” she asked. Tears welled in her eyes, but she’d wiped them away before they could fall.
Her father had shifted his weight in his chair, “I got into some trouble,” he said. “Now I need to go fix some things.” Flora started to cry. Her father had noticed and wiped her tears away, “Don’t cry Flora, I really will be back soon,” his voice cracked. “I love you,” he said and took her into his large arms. “Will you do me a favor while I’m gone?” She nodded into his chest. His shirt smelled like cigarettes and sweat. “Take a picture of a beautiful sunset for every night I’m gone,” he said. Flora squeezed him goodbye. A few minutes later, Flora watched as sirens came to take her father away.
Flora watched the sky grow darker. She stood with her arms outstretched, the dock rocked. Water splashed onto the dock and the damp wood caused her to lose her balance. Flora’s eyes grew wide as she descended into the water. Her heart raced. “What will happen to the pictures?” she thought. She swam to the surface and gasped for air, then reached for the dock. Flora clawed her way out of the water. The marsh grass danced in the wind and turned its back on her. When she was once again on dry land, she inspected her camera. It was ruined. The black camera wouldn’t turn on. The water had destroyed every picture Flora had taken.
When Flora realized that every picture was gone, she threw the camera as far as she could into the salty water, and watched as the camera sunk beneath the surface. “No more goodbyes.” she yelled. Beside the dock, a street lamp flickered and the moon reflected a comfortable glow.