Burnt Orange

“Why do you think we find sunsets so beautiful?”

Ramon turned to Kristen and cocked his head. “What do you mean?”

“Why do you think it’s such a universal notion that sunsets are beautiful?” Kristen’s eyes never came off the sunset as she sat on the soft wavy grass next to Ramon. The two were seated on the top of a hill surrounded by trees that overlooked the neighborhood park. The park’s biggest baseball field’s outfield lay below them followed by the infield, a tiny concessions stand, a large walkway, and two more baseball fields. Down the hill to their left was the playground with swings, slides, and wood chips.

Ramon returned his gaze to the sunset. “I don’t know. Never really thought about it.”

“I mean, everyone thinks they’re beautiful. Or at least, that seems to be the most common adjective attributed to them. No one ever says they’re ugly. People always think they’re beautiful when asked.”

Ramon thought about this and recalled times in his past whenever someone had commented on the sunset that lay before them. She had a point, he thought. He pulled a blade of grass out from the fresh dirt that had up until that moment been its home and held it up in front of him. He rested his elbows on his scabbed, bony knees and used both hands to twist the long thin blade back and forth.

“Do you think it’s because people feel they have to call the sunset beautiful? Like they feel obligated to?” he asked.

Kristen’s long black lashes fluttered briefly as she studied the summer sky. “No. Plenty of people love being oppositionists for the sake of disliking something that others like. But I haven’t found a person from any walk of life that has ever said they dislike the look of a summer sunset. Seems like it’s become a universal truth that they’re beautiful. It’s one of the few things human beings seem to agree on.”

Ramon looked at Kristen as she sat next to him. He studied her as she studied the sky. Her flowing brown hair, her soft light-brown skin, her thin lips with the cherry-flavored balm that glistened as the sunshine bounced off them. Many of the words he would use to describe a sunset, he would use to describe her.

Kristen’s upturned face never turned but she briefly glanced at Ramon from the corner of her eyes. “You’re staring again,” she said.

Flustered, he quickly snapped his head back around toward the blade of grass. He remained silent next to her as the summer breeze blew across the trees.

Kristen’s eyes were still on the burning orange hue that engulfed the horizon behind the skyline. With Ramon on her right, the left side of her mouth pulled up as she hid her delight from him.


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