My father is the sun. I sleep on his arm, wedged between him and my mother, and I don't even need the thick comforter that envelops us in its embrace with false whispers of safety. His pulse lulls me, lovingly sure and strong, the sound of sunbeams concentrated in his veins.
In fourth grade I learn how stars have a life cycle, a beginning and an end, like people, and my teacher's face twitches with a smile as she reassures us that it will be billions of years before our sun burns its way into oblivion. Not in our lifetime, she says, and instructs us to turn the page, because there's nothing to worry about. But her words get me thinking, my memory tugging and inching, spreading its wings.
Parents aren't supposed to outlive their kids, he says. It's not right.
What if I die before you, then?
Not in my lifetime, he says, with conviction in his voice and hope on his breath.
I know that he is a person, a mortal, flawed human being. I know he is not the sun. But when I look up into the brigh