The story is about a class of school children on Venus, which in this tale is a jungle world of constant torrential rainstorms, where the sun is only visible for two hours every seven years. Such an occurrence is imminent.
One of the children, Margot, had moved to Venus from Earth five years before the story takes place, and she is the only one in her class to remember sunshine. She has become frail and miserable there, and almost has a nervous breakdown from the anxiety of living with the relentless rain. “[Once], a month ago, she had refused to shower in the school shower rooms, had clutched her hands to her ears and over her head, screaming the water mustn’t touch her head.”
She writes a poem about the sun:
- “I think the sun is a flower,
- That blooms for just one hour.”
She describes it as “a penny”, or “like a fire in the stove”. The other children refuse to believe her, claiming that she’s lying and doesn’t remember.
In her misery, she will not play with the other children, and they bully her for her separateness and refuse to believe her memories of the sun. As its predicted appearance draws near, while the teacher is out of the classroom, William, the student who most often torments her for being a quiet outcast, convinces the other children to lock her in the closet. They ignore her cries and pleas; her beating against its door begging to be let out.
As the sun is about to appear, the teacher arrives to take the class outside to enjoy their two hours of sunshine. In their astonishment and joy, they all forget about Margot. They run, play, skip, jump, and prance about, savoring every second of their newly found freedom.
All at once, a girl feels a raindrop land on her hand, and with the sad realization that the rain is returning, all the children start to cry. Thunder sounds, and they run back inside. Suddenly, one of them remembers Margot, still locked in the closet. They stand frozen with shame for what they have done, unable to “meet each other’s glances.” The precious sun has come and gone, leaving her still pale in gloom and darkness, not having seen it. They walk slowly towards the closet, now silent, and let her out.
I’m so grateful for the summer sunshine that continues here in the Northwest. I know I’m not alone. Each morning over this past week has been a form of worship for me as I wake up to the beautiful rays shining through my home. The autumn chill is beginning to tinge the air, but is soon embraced with the warmth of the sun.
Sigh. All of us living in this part of Puget Sound know its just a matter of time, our fall rains will return. I might have to get a sun jar to take with me!