Thursday, April 29, 2010

October Moon

Breaking glass to slip into the abandoned house, you broke the window with a blanket wrapped around your hand.   I remember the feel of your fingers as you led me into the dark.  We had flashlights.   Lightning bugs and moths followed us.  I was scared, but was trying hard not to show it.  You were so brave, and I wanted to be just like you.  A look of girlish Peter Pan on your face.  The grin sweet with mischief.  The floor was sticky; the wood warped and the varnish faded over years of abandonment.  Our tiny bodies filled the small space.  The appearance of a shed, that was once someone's home fills my head.  I remember the smell of wet dirt from the night before, and weeds that crept through the gaps in the floorboards.  Little purple and blue and yellow flowers, some soft and others sharp, in a haphazard polka-dot pattern.  We could see our breath.  The October Moon and its stars, the bugs on the floor, and a passing rabbit were only audience.  We thought we were such rebels that night, unfolding the blanket and propping ourselves up on skinny elbows.  We tilted the lights upwards to show our faces to each other.  You showed me how to smoke a cigarette.  Your brother had taught you and you were proud to teach me something taboo.  I hated it.  I demonstrated how to kiss, using the back of my palm.  I had seen it on TV.  We chomped and blew on gum.  Bubblicious.  Our favorite.  We tried our best to scare each other with stories of ghosts, of Bloody Mary, and of wolves.  We heard a barking in the distance, and giggled over shivers.  You laughed, throwing your whole body into each sound, a rhythmic shudder of pure joy.  I laughed with my eyes, afraid someone would hear us and spoil our fun.  The cigarette that you extinguished in the dirt; I snatched it up when you weren't looking.  I was taught to keep a clean house and hadn't yet shaken the habit.

You were reckless.  I loved you with all my little heart.  We were eleven and twelve.  You were older than me - by a month.  You liked to remind me of this when I disagreed with you.  You were older. You knew better.  Our adventures continued throughout school, evolving as we grew up.  We grew up.  You matured faster than me, you said.  It was why you could drink, have sex, smoke.  And it was why I couldn't.  You knew better.

At the reception of your wedding, you took my hand and we ran out to the backyard, to watch the moon rise.  We stole two flashlights from the garage and chased the lightning bugs.  You told me it was my turn to fall in love.  I agreed.  We were giddy with laughter.  I laughed with my whole body now, unafraid of onlookers.  The champagne went straight to our heads.  Our men came looking for us.  Your husband and my date.  We didn't care.  We ran around in circles, our Marilyn Monroe dresses twirling faster and faster.  White and blue blurs in the yard.  Our hips moved to the music coming from the reception's tent, as we swished and swayed.

"Faster, faster, faster," I thought.

The swishing was my favorite sound.  I told you a ghost story, with the beam brushing over my face, shellacked with makeup.  We fell to the ground, and laughed, with our feet kicking up in the air.  We were kids again and not.  The men watched and half-understood.  But we knew our souls, our selves.

I think of you, remembering all of this, as I pass through towns and cities, and think of what you told me of my new voyage.  You said I deserve to be reckless.  That I need to explore.  As I drive along, I look for abandoned shack-houses, and imagine us in there again.

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