This morning, I got up early while it was still dark, put on my pink silk robe and went outside to greet the dawn.
“Hello.” The dawn replied.
I jumped. I’m not all that accustomed to being on the reciprocal end of greeting the dawn.
“Er, hello…?” An embarrassed giggle followed my hesitant reply, as the absurdity of what I was doing suddenly penetrated. The laugh choked into a cough a moment later.
“I was just saying to Venus as she went past – “ the dawn continued matter-of-factly “ – how refreshing it is to slip over the dark horizon and actually be greeted by someone. Makes it worth the effort, you know.”
“Oh… yes – I mean… no. I don’t quite, er, follow…?” I fumbled with the cord of my dressing gown, but my fingers were as clumsy as my intelligence. Wild thoughts giddily galloped through my brain’s morning fog like horses on a prairie. A rather void prairie.
‘The Dawn’ had returned my greeting. What should I say in response? Hang on – why was I trying to respond anyway? Was it entirely normal for one to converse with, well, the dawning of a new day? Such mysteries were really a bit much for a staunch night owl such as myself. Generally, I wasn’t even producing a pulse at this early hour, let alone… Unless it was still night?
I wriggled my bare toes in the cool, dew-kissed grass. It felt real enough. But dreams could be tricky things – thought it a good joke to allow a body to soar in effortless delight through a silver sky, only to fall hundreds of stories in sheer terror and wake up with a horrid jolt, soaked in sweat and obviously not a shining super hero. I pinched my arm.
“Hmmm,” the dawn sympathised wisely. “Never could understand the self-infliction of pain. Are you alright though?”
“Oh, uh, yes thanks.” I answered bravely. “Just peachy, I am. Yes… just peachy…”
There was a pause. Part of me was firmly convinced that I should take my befuddled self back to the warm cocoon of pillows and dreams, and wake up a few hours later to start this day again. But another part of me lingered, curious.
“So… how are you?” I finally said, then immediately wondered if one asked such questions of the dawn. If so, no-one had ever shared the outcome and insights of the conversation with me.
“Oh, I’m wonderful!” The dawn exclaimed. “It’s so delightful to start the day with a bit of conversation – don’t you think?” Before I could trip over another awkward reply, the dawn continued, “Getting on, though. Day’s not too far behind now.”
“Day?” I echoed stupidly.
“Yes, the day.” The dawn was infinitely patient. “He usually follows me pretty closely. Of course, I have to make sure I’m keeping up with Night, who is himself right on the tail of Dusk. We all sort of follow the leader, right around the world. Have to keep up, else we’d all get into a bit of a tangle, you see.”
“Yes. Yes, I see.” I agreed, somewhat distractedly. My mind was struggling to comprehend the results of such a tangle, but the dawn didn’t give me time to ponder this novel idea. She blissfully carried on with my lesson on the comings and goings of time.
“Yes, there are always people waiting for Day or Night all around the globe,” said the dawn. Then added in a somewhat subdued tone, “But not very many wait to see me.”
“Oh? Why not?” I asked. The sky was now a misty grey, and I felt suddenly and inexplicably sorry for my luminous and unconventional companion.
“Well you see, I’m the transition between the night and the day. People have very definite uses for Night and for Day, but I’m around for such a brief moment, that most of them miss me slipping past.” Then the dawn’s voice brightened again. “Which is why I was so pleased when you came to greet me!”
“Oh…” I was rather awed by this revelation. I had thoughtlessly arisen to greet the dawn, and now she was thanking me for my actions.
“Well, I… it was my pleasure.” I said truthfully. “Yes – happy to do it again anytime!”
“Oh lovely!” The dawn’s voice was fainter now. “Same time tomorrow then?”
“Yes – yes! Okay then. Tomorrow.” I nodded happily, looked around me, and noticed for the first time the subtle footprints of the day stepping lightly along the path of the dawn.
The sky was bathed in a beautiful rose hue, and the air was fresh with newness and possibilities. A golden streak of sun reached confidently across the ever-lightening blue canopy.
“Are you going now, Dawn?” I called out, suddenly feeling strangely bereft.
“I am indeed!” The dawn called over her shoulder. “But it was lovely to greet you.”
“Oh – and you!” I returned. “Yes – lovely. Well… Good then.”
“Good then!” The dawn laughingly echoed me. “Or, as I like to say it, ‘Good Day’.”
I laughed with her.
And then, just as the dawn had predicted, it was.
© Emma McGeorge 2012