Lunar Eclipses and Shooting Stars

You take one last inventory of yourself and grab the miniature flashlight you use for reading late at night when you don't want to be noticed, remembering the dark nights at the cottage. Zip up your coat, slip on a fuzzy headband, and sneak as quietly as you can down the hall to the front door. Barely a sound is made. Even as you click on your flashlight to find your boots, and then zip them up, nothing stirs.

Opening the heavy wood front door, you think yourself silly for even comparing the country darkness to the city lights. It's like daylight out there, and though the flashlight is good for finding boots in the dark, it will do nothing out here.

Slowly, very slowly, you open the metal and glass front door, wincing as it makes creaking sound. But no one is asking you where you're going, or making any sounds, so you slip out quietly and search for the moon.

It's already nearly half gone. The moon has moved faster than you thought. Or is it the earth? You only half-glanced at the charts, simply wanting to know the times of things as you learned of the lunar eclipse only two hours before. Staring up at the moon, you're a little disappointed that you missed the first part nearly completely, but you still have the rest. You haven't missed the show.

You move in and out of the house, checking on the moon between moments of warming yourself up. On the fifth or sixth time out, you wonder if you should tell your dad. He's been ignoring you since last week, and he hasn't been kind otherwise. Why should you tell him? But by the time this happens again, he'll be in the ground, turning to dust. So you push away everything he's ever done to you, and the pile is quite large, and venture inside, as quiet as a ghost.

Opening his door, you whisper, "Dad? Dad?" and he replies with a moan. "Dad, do you like lunar eclipses?"

He gives an affirmative noise. So you go on. "There's one going on now, if you want to see it."

He says no, that's okay, but then barrages you with questions about times, etc. In the end, he gets up and says he'll take a peek at it. In the darkness, you smile, though he can't see it and your cheeks are just regaining feeling in them.

You're a ghost once again, drifting silently down the hall to your boots. But your dad stumbles and falters, grasps onto things and there's a loud thunk as he kicks his shoes. A noise from your mom. A questioning noise. Dad explains quickly that there's a lunar eclipse, and then you guys are out on the lawn and you're showing him and telling him everything you've learned about it in the past two hours.

And more. You don't stop at the moon facts. You're telling him about Jules and Abi and Dee, how they're watching it, or why they're not. How Abi is still studying, but Jules is done for three weeks.

A voice at the back of your mind is telling you to stop, because in the near future, you're going to regret letting him back in to even glimpse your life. But right now, standing side by side and watching something amazing, it's hard to believe you'll ever regret anything of today. Of right now.

Your dad dances from one foot to another and decides to go in to get warmed up a little. You follow, and you see your mom isn't happy. The whole house feels like it's been brought down with an angry sickness. Your dad goes over to your mom, and then comes back to you, to go back outside. You ask what's wrong, and he says that she's mad because you and him woke her up.

And you can feel it. All of it. You know what's happening.

You didn't wake her up. He did. You were a ghost. And you were just doing a nice thing. But that doesn't matter. Never does. You're inconsiderate because you didn't think of her, you woke her up, you were noisy, you just had to do whatever you wanted to do, without a thought for anyone else. Selfish, stupid, annoying, a bitch.

It's the same scenario over and over again, the topic is the only one that changes.  So everything replays in your mind a thousand times as you wait for your dad to put on his shoes once again. You feel tears welling up because it's just not fair, and you go on ahead because you're so angry.

You recall everything else she's ruined over the years- graduations, Christmases, birthdays, every single holiday. You refuse, refuse, to let her ruin this. But as you and dad watch the eclipse happen, the fear, worry, anger and sadness worm their way into you. You won't get away with this, that's not the way she goes. You'll pay, pay three times over. A hundred times over. A thousand, even. It all seems absurd, and it is. But it doesn't mean it's not true.

The earth blocks the sun, casting the moon in red shadows. Dad calls it, and goes in. You stand in the cold a little more, watch through the window at your dad going up to your mom. Imagining what she says as she's obscured by the Christmas tree. And as you, too, go in for shelter and warmth, you can feel everything crashing down.

You sit in the rocking chair by the door of the living room and get up every few minutes, as silent as you can be, to check the moon. You text your friends that are up for updates and just to chat.

Your dad gets up. Leaves the room. Your mom, who you thought had fallen asleep again, gathers all the blankets and gets up. You fear she's angry, but you try to suppress it. Maybe she's not. Maybe she's just... changing areas. No hard feelings.

But as her footsteps near and pass you, she increases their intensity until the house is shaking. You're not even exaggerating. The tree shakes, the TV shakes, the gas lamps on the top of the china cabinet shake. And you shake. Wince inside. Shrink.

She's mad at you.

You close your computer, toss it on your bed, bundle up again, and head out to the park. You can't stay at home anymore, and if you try, you'll end up broken and unable to fix yourself.

It takes everything you have not to run all the way to the park. When you see the swings, you quicken your pace and fall into one. Almost immediately, you start swinging. Push off, pump your legs, watch the moon.

Your eyes fall to your boots; tall, puffy, white. Fuzz-lined. The tops dusted with brown, black, and whatever else you want to call "dirty." And you remember all the hassle everyone gave you, and still give you, for getting white boots in the winter time. They'll get dirty too quickly. They'll be ugly in a week.

Not all untrue. But you also remember why you got them. There were black ones, and brown ones, but you wanted the white ones. White was nice. Everything else was black. White reminded you of snow. Pristine snow. The pretty, untouched snow. Beautiful. The way it sparkles in the night. So you argued until you could have them, the white boots. And while everyone never stops complaining about the boots you wear, you don't regret them one bit.

You look up at the moon again. The eclipse. It started, and everything was peaceful. When it ends, everything will be back the way it was. You will be ignored, or yelled at. Generally hated. And you'll regret telling your dad anything about your life now. The way it should be.

You keep swinging, determined to stay at the park until the moon starts to shine again. But it's cold, and you hear footsteps, and as much as you doubt someone would attack you at the park right now, you hop off and start down the street.

When you reach the house, you hop into the bed of your mom's truck and sit on the edge, watching the moon. It's no less cold here, but you're still determined to see the moon with a sliver of light to it. So you watch and you think.

And you have an imaginary conversation with your mom in your head.

In it, you tell her that you're sick of her. You tell her that she ruins every good event, but this was the last straw. Graduations happen a couple of times, birthdays and Christmas happens every year. But something that hasn't happened in 372 years, and won't happen again until 2094... well, this was it. You're tired of caring about her. You don't care about her anymore, and that's it. Done. Finito. Good bye.

You don't know how that would go, but it makes you feel powerful thinking about saying it.

The moon slowly shows a pinprick of light, and then a little more. You stare at it, willing for it to move faster so you can go in. At 4 o'clock, you decided, you'll go in regardless.

At 4 o'clock, the moon isn't all that shiny, but then you see something you haven't seen before: A shooting star.

You make a wish quick. Something about everything working out, everything being perfect, everything being fixed. It's a jumble and you don't even know what you mean. And in the end, you figure you've mucked it up enough, so you tell the shooting star to give the wish to someone else.

And then you hop off the bed of the truck, and enter the house that isn't a home. You're a ghost again; everything you do is silent. But it's not enough. It will never be enough. Because you realized on the swings that nothing you ever do will be good enough. You will never be able to say sorry enough times, or be successful enough, or obey enough.

Enough isn't in your parents' vocabulary.

More More More is.

And you wonder if you should have wished on that shooting star. Something worth it. But what?


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