The House of Eternal Sunshine

The House of Eternal Sunshine

Ever since Braun went away, theirs was a magical existence in the vast house of endless rooms filled with warm sunshine surrounded by magnificent gardens that sloped away to the line of dark forest. Even though Braun had built the house stone by stone and had cleared the forest and planted the impressive gardens, and even though they knew that he’d never return, they still felt warm inside the magnificent house, even when thick ice crystals formed on the outside of the multitude of windows through which the bright sunshine seemed to stream eternally. Even in his absence, he had taken great care to make sure they would always stay warm and safe inside the house of endless rooms filled with eternal sunshine.

When one day they awoke and searched the endless rooms, calling out Braun’s name, and he never appeared, they assumed as on other days he was tending the gardens, or off hunting fresh meat with which to stock the large pantry, until they found the letter written by Braun and left, along with two stones polished by the many years of being carried inside the buckskin medicine pouch slung across Braun’s heavy chest, on the long wooden table next to the steaming pot of coffee that had been recently removed from the wood-fired stove. He always arose early to make coffee and take care of the chores. On that day, however, the day Braun left, Cornelia and her daughter, Realta, sat with their coffee at the small table in the breakfast nook in the warm sunshine, each of them holding one of Braun’s stones next to her heart, to read Braun’s letter.

Precious Cornie and Real,

I have tried to tell you not in words but in my actions that I would be unable to stay with you for long. It will not be of any help to you now for me to explain why, but I am leaving behind two ancestor stones that if you allow them to speak to you will keep you safe forever. If you have listened and watched in the past you will know what you need to do to stay alive, and these ancestor stones will serve as your guide because they were here first, even before life, and possess ancient knowledge. Listen carefully to what their silence tells you. In the midst of sorrow, sickness, death or misfortune of any kind, silence shows respect and understanding. If I believed that you were not safe, I would not leave, but satisfied that you are safe, I ask you now to think not of my return because like life itself my leave-taking will never reverse its course; don’t expect life’s rivers to stop flowing to their inevitable return to the sea.

If I stayed I would destroy everything I’ve worked so hard to build, because as other men swat nasty flies that continually harass them, I destroy the things that I have come to adore. I destroy love like most men stricken with the disease of old age destroy their humility and honor in their quest for lust. I will remember with heart-struck sorrow the beauty and love I have left behind. So be it, for in my quest for serenity, I must constantly remind myself that nothing is eternal.

Your faithful servant, Braun

They looked across the small table at each other, not saying anything at first, but then Cornelia told her daughter that Braun’s departure had been expected ever since he had first come to them two years ago. “We shouldn’t have thought otherwise, because that would have been foolhardy.” Realta set her ancestor stone on the table in front of her and in silence considered it for a long time. Braun had come to them when they needed him the most, and now that Braun had determined that they no longer needed him, he had left. It was natural, she thought. “Mother, where will he go now?” she asked. “I don’t know, dear, but he moves upon the winds of storms, so he’ll be pulled into the storm of severest violence,” her mother answered. “He is a seer of storms.”

The remainder of the day, the two of them busied themselves with tending the garden as they had watched Braun do so often in the past, and even though they had never helped Braun in the garden before, it came quite naturally to them, and working in the garden gave them deep pleasure. Towards evening, they went inside the giant house to enjoy the last of the rays of warm sunshine pouring through the impressive windows, and when the sun finally settled below the horizon and the large rooms were lighted by the bright candles along the walls and the glow from the numerous fireplaces in every room, touched by their hunger, they set about preparing their dinner. Braun had always taken care of this for them in the past, but Braun was no longer here – and his absence, along with their hunger, was felt deeply. They ignored their sadness because they knew that sadness and gloom would not help bring Braun back to them, so they rejoiced in the preparation of their dinner. It was a simple affair of soup with dried meat and potatoes, but it nourished their hearts and stomachs. They settled into a peaceful night of deep reflection on what Braun had brought to them, and how now, that he was no longer with them, they felt not only his loss but also his inspiration. Each of them took from the small pouches tied around their waists the ancestor stones left to them and held them close to their hearts, remembering with warmth and encouragement all that Braun had brought to them in their time of need. They were independent now, they thought to themselves, braced against anything the future might throw their way. The most important thing that Braun had brought to them was a sense of fearlessness, because fear they understood would only swamp them in the muddy, turbulent waters of life. If they were to go on living, they would need to do so fearlessly; it was the only way.

Holding their ancestor stones close to their hearts, each of them remembered a time when fear had overcome them, when they were cast into the murky waters of life without a lifeline. Cornelia’s husband (Realta’s father) was a mean and evil man who beat them unrelentingly. He drank without cessation and cursed Cornelia and Realta, blaming them for the ugly and impoverished state in which he existed, even though he was to blame. They cowered before his evil and mean ways, succumbing to his malicious fits of rage. They were helpless before his superior strength and depravity, until Braun came to their rescue. Braun was kind and thoughtful, with no hidden motives beyond the fulfillment of his generous heart’s desires. He was an utterly selfless human being driven by kindness and generosity. Cornelia had never met such a man before; from her early childhood through her ugly marriage, she had known only narcissistic men who demanded things for their own self-gratification. Braun was different, a breath of fresh air, and he opened up to Cornelia a world that was bright and hopeful, a world in which men were not wicked and mean-spirited. And when he went away, he left hope and bright sunshine behind, even though in his letter he said that he always destroyed the things that he’d come to adore. Cornelia knew now that this wasn’t true; in fact, Braun left sunshine behind wherever he went, but he mistook the gloom in his heart for clouds that blocked the warmth of the sun, and although he saw things that other men were unable to see, he could not enjoy the warmth and beauty of the eternal sunshine in which he walked.

“Tragedy is a gift to very few men,” Cornelia told her daughter. “But this gift is a heavy burden, and in order for these men to bring sunshine into the lives of those they come to, they must walk in the silence of their own darkness.”

“Braun had to leave, didn’t he?” Realta asked her mother. “His darkness would have eventually blotted out the warmth of the sunshine that he’d brought into our lives. Why are these men so rare?”

“Seers of storms are engulfed in life’s turmoil,” Cornelia said, holding tightly to her heart the ancestor stone left behind by Braun. “And they come on the dark storms of life and leave quietly in the stillness of night.” She understood, and even though this knowledge didn’t diminish her sorrow, she understood now that she had had to make a choice, she had had to trade the suffering of a life of torment for the warmth from the rays of deep sadness that streamed through the windows of the many rooms in the house of eternal sunshine.





  1. Dave, I have mixed emotions with this story. and don’t quite understand the message. Lovely story but sad. I’m going to read it again.

    • Hi, Kathy,

      First off, thanks for taking the time to read my post, not once but twice. I appreciate it; and the fact that you took the time to comment means that much more to me. I am somewhat heartened by the fact that you have mixed emotions because I meant for it to work on two distinct levels. The first level is expressed through Cornelia’s and Realta’s suffering, and the second level is expressed through the peace they find in their understanding of where they’ve been compared to where they are now. We are oftentimes afraid of our current situations because we see them from a position of desperation, not from a position of fearlessness and strength that we find somewhere deep inside ourselves. Even though Cornelia had finally met a man who was good to her, and who showed his love through his actions, not just through his words, which can be filled with deception, and even though this man, Braun, chose to leave because he knew that he would only destroy her fantastic belief in true and unconditional love, Cornelia can take comfort in knowing that she has found a sense of freedom in her sadness. It seems counter-intuitive, but we really can find strength in our sadness, since sadness is the residue left from an event that has left a distinct impression on us. Feeling anything is always better than feeling nothing, even if what we are feeling is sadness. Sadness is a sign that we are alive and human, not an eternal cross to bear. Cornelia feels her sadness in the warmth of the sunshine that surrounds her constantly. Thanks again for your comment. And if the story stirred any emotions in you at all, then I am thankful.

  2. David, a very thought provoking story laced with powerful words of imagery and fantasy. Left me with many questions and your explanation was comforting.

    • I’m glad you found some comfort in this fantasy. I tried to paint a picture with words, and since I never know if I succeed or not, I took your comments to heart. My posts usually disturb, so I thought I’d try something a little different. I am growing wearisome of writing only about misery and pain. It’s time to open up to the pleasures and joy in life! What do you think?!

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