Moonlighting

Half moons carry with them something sinister. Beyond the kitchen window, the yard is silent, wrapped in a shawl of darkness – slats of moonlight fracturing through the mossy branches of the plum tree.

The meteor is just about to destroy Earth; Keira Knightley sniffles, staring glassy-eyed at Steve Carell.

“Somehow, I thought we could save one another.”

The living room fills with light from the screen; the world is gone. And the painfully apropos soundtrack cools my blood.

This is the stage of crushing realization – when the recent past seems like ancient history, and the lonesome present is an alternate reality.

I can feel the tremors rippling behind my eyes, the pulsating inhalations as my nostrils flare. The deluge is instant and heavy. And there’s no one to hear me. So I let my labored sobs fill the cottage, absorb into the walls, and filter through the cracked floors and drafty windows.

In this moment, I am fully alone – vis-à-vis with the weighted knowledge that my life is forever changed.

The sofa’s worn leather stretches under me as I rock back and forth. Joanna scuttles over, burrowing her head under my arms – licking at the salty delicacies pouring from my eyes. She’s confused, and so am I.

Behind every laugh, every tear, there’s a blend of uncertainty and loss, longing and fulfillment, despair and fortitude.

Sometimes, my thoughts get away from me and riddle idle conversation with unnecessary bleakness; I don’t really know how I’m feeling until I start talking, determining if the wavering in my voice will subside or snowball into a tumbling mess.

Even still, despite being physically deflated, I’ve never felt as emotionally full.

Now, I let myself feel the jagged edges of ugly, dark moments, and absorb the humbling, beautiful ones – all generating the momentum I need to get through a day, to pay a kindness forward. To put more good out into the world than bad – to place a dollar in an outstretched cup, to acknowledge someone who feels forgotten, to laugh at a bad joke, to dodge a snail sliming across the sidewalk; to lift up, not bear down.

***

Hot cocoa steams from my Pyrex mug as the cottage rattles from the thunderous percussion of massive metallic sheets clattering out of the steel mill downhill.

Car headlights stream along the bridge in the distance, the traffic more visible as the branches shed their burdensome foliage.

The dryer buzzes and I shuffle over, throwing open the door to amass the warm sheets.

Heated air pulses through the tiny laundry room and unmoors a large dandelion seed from a nearby succulent’s dried soil. I watch it dance and shiver mid-air, spiraling and somersaulting.

I cup my hands around it as it begins to fall, and push open a window. Slowly, delicately, I open my hands, but the cool air whips it from me with little fanfare, casting it above the trees.

I think about reaching after it, but resist.

I track its ascent, watching its feathery pappus blanch in the moonlight as it vanishes from view into the inky night.

To root and grow beyond anyone’s grasp.

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