art by Billy Sagulo
by Tony Pisculli
My first total eclipse, Munich International Airport. A fortunate layover on a hectic business trip to Europe.
The moon has already carved an enormous black bite from the disc of the sun, leaving a thin, white crescent that slowly shrinks as I watch. Just before the crescent vanishes completely, it flares up in four bright dots--Bailey's Beads--which wink out, one by one, in quick succession. The last spills a hot circle of light around the silhouette of the moon before it, too, sputters out and the corona appears, dancing and flickering like the ghost of the sun.
Immediately the temperature drops. A hush settles on the world. The birds and crickets fall silent, fooled into thinking that day has become night.
I take my safety glasses off, cheap cardboard things with black polymer lenses, and watch the crowd--hundreds, maybe thousands of people, all oriented in the same direction, all wearing glasses, gazing up at the sky.
All but two.
A man in a well-worn jacket, searching not the sky but the crowd, and a young woman running toward him from the direction of the eclipse.
She throws herself at him and they embrace like lovers. No, like high school sweethearts, passionate but innocent. He picks her up and spins her around, her long, blond hair fanning out behind her. For a brief moment she's silhouetted against the eclipse. The corona backlights her hair, and she's impossibly beautiful.