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Under a Big Moon

A short story from the book:

Torrents of Our Time, 2nd Edition

 Montreal Publishing Company

November 2023 

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She came out there, and the young girl, Rachael, looked at the state-sponsored woman. I saw her from my window. It was dark but there was a big moon and she was wearing her long white nightgown.

She went into the garage?

Yes, and Rachael pushed off the ground with her foot, pulling back on the chains, the swing going, the rusted chains squeaking.

 

The too-dark garage, afraid to turn the light on, afraid to wake them, and so she stumbled, even though she knew where it was—exactly where it was, that which she had come for, and would not put off.

Not anymore.

                                                 

Was she there a long time?

Rachael looked at the garage, the squeak of the chains slowing.

Rachael?

She looked at the woman. She looked back at the garage. She had something in her hand, but I couldn’t see what it was.

Your momma?

Yes.

 

In the dark the young girl’s mother reached the workbench and placed a pitcher of lemonade and ice on it. She bent down and looked beneath the bench, her hand searching for, and then finding, that which she had come for. She struggled to lift it with one hand and bent over more, using both hands to place it on the bench.

 

The swing was hardly moving now, just drifting, slowly, back and forth, as if there was a big moon up there, that very same moon, and it was dark, and it was quiet, and she was alone and waiting, and she’d say, Momma. Rachael looked at the woman. At her long hair. Her nice clothes. She looked past the woman at the house. I think Daddie’s upset because he was supposed to be watching her.

Is that what he said?  

                                                    

No, but I know he was.

Why?

Because he left his job so he could.

He was a teacher?

Yes, the only one and he taught us all.

Who’s the teacher now?

It’s a lady, but I don’t go, so I don’t know. My daddie teaches me here.

He does?

Yes, mostly, but not every day.

Was your daddie sleeping when your momma went outside?

He didn’t wake up until we heard her fall in the hallway.

She left the garage?

Yes.

 

Sitting on the high wooden stool, her legs crossed, she sipped a mixed drink of lemonade and antifreeze. And in the dim blue light of the moon slipping through the side door window, she stared into the darkness of new hope, and she began to hum, “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy, when skies are grey. You’ll never know, dear, how much I love you.” And she hummed on, her foot tapping on, the music in her head—playing on, and she forced down another sip.

 

Rachael looked at the woman. I should get supper goin.

I’ll give you a hand.

That’s all right.

No, I’d like too, if that’s all right?

 

Did your daddie talk to you about your momma?

Not too much. Would you like a cup of tea?

Yes, please.

I’ll put the kettle on.

Thank you.

You’re welcome. He just said, did I know she died of a broken heart?

A broken heart?

Yes, that’s what he said. Because the world made her sad.

I’m sorry.

That’s okay. But it wasn’t just the world, Rachael told the woman, that made her sad.

It wasn’t?

No. She told me why.

She did?

Yes. She said, sometimes she got sad because another world, not this one, another one, would come and settle upon her. But I wasn’t to worry because it would never come for me. She said she just knew, and I would be okay. She promised.

She said that?

Yes.

She promised?

Yes.

Do you worry about that?

She looked at the woman. The state sponsored woman. Her nice hair. Her nice clothes.

Rachael?  

                

She heard her name, but she wasn’t there, she was on her swing.

Under a big moon.

In the dark, in the quiet, waiting.

That calling. That pulling. The chains squeaking.

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Available June 1, 2024

Montreal Publishing Company

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