The moon hangs low outside the window, scarred and haloed. She stares at me, dares me to confess the unspeakable. It’s almost tempting.
I relax my body on the thought that Frank’s arm slings around my waist and then close my eyes, try to forget about the moon and her glare, a vain attempt to fall asleep in the sound of his breathing. The covers rise and fall in the rhythm of his eerie, silence existence — a music I’ve been acquainted to for years. I tune my thoughts into its harmony.
I dismantle my limbs from his. He grunts, and for a split second, I flinch. A siren rings in my chest, and I count to ten until I’m sure I’m safe. I go through the slow motions of a fly aiming to free itself from a web. Every risk is calculated.
I walk out of the door as if treading on eggshells, then go straight to the kitchen. My fingers scramble for the cigarettes in the cupboards, clammy and desperate. I light a stick up, then amble my way to the patio.
I lay on the grass, my face to the sky. Aside from a pale face on the endless indigo stretch, it’s empty. I wonder if the moon hides her daughters sometimes, terrified that they might be trapped into constellations. When I was young, back in the shack, my father taught me how to make figures out of such heavenly bodies. I remember Orion the Hunter being my favorite.
A slow drag. I let the hearth in my chest consume every cell in my body. I wonder how my family’s doing. The last time I saw them was at my wedding. I send them money regularly, thousands of dollars that Frank makes just by sitting in his office. I wonder if my father still works in that old, shaggy farm, or if he still milks the cows one by one at seven AM, sharp. I wonder if he misses me. I’ve thought about calling him just to check in. But there’s Frank who watches me like a hawk. Of course, it’s always him.
Another drag. I reckon my mother in her sundresses, bragging to our neighbors about this future that’s been bought purely by beauty, thanks to my genetic heritage. I remember the tears that streamed down her cheeks when I told her I was getting married. She was happy. Who wouldn’t be? It’s Frank. The most handsome man he’s ever seen. The richest, more importantly. The one who could best take care of me.
Another drag. My head’s a gray cloud that holds no coherent thought in it. Everything feels heavy. When I exhale and make smoke rings this time, my eyes are misty. I blame it to the wind. In this household, denial is integral for survival, though the truth always catches up. On nights like this, I wonder about the life I could have had had I not sold him my heart. I would’ve stayed a poor milkman’s daughter forever, as Frank always reminds me, as if I don’t know that myself already. Sometimes, though, I think, wouldn’t that be better than this? Isn’t poverty better than being unhappy? What good can money do if it can’t save you from your misery? I wipe the tears away, but then wince as my knuckle presses a bruise on my eyelid.
The moon doesn’t judge; it just listens. In response, she casts a glow that has brightened up a notch. I stand and brush away the pine needles that managed their way into my hair. I drop what’s left of the stick on the ground and then extinguish the gasping red embers with the soles of my slippers. I walk my way inside, upstairs, where my husband remains calm like an angel he is, if you don’t count the fact that his breath still reeks of whiskey, his knuckles bright pink.
When I close my eyes, I think of the shack this time, and my life without his paycheck and his king-sized bed and his swinging fists. It was good, I guess. But as Mom and Frank and every other friend I’ve had would counter: this one’s better. I hear the same words sometimes, when I look at the mirror and see a stranger.
Before I completely give in to the gravity inside me, I steal one more glimpse at the moon — swimming with the ghastly sheets, shining over the city every night, stealing light from the sun so she can stand the gloom. I close my eyes and dream wistfully: of her, of how she can sometimes be in halves but can also be whole, how she can be scarred and yet beautiful.
Fransivan MacKenzie is a campus journalist and an educator-psychologist in transit. She has never been anywhere outside her beloved country, but her words are her wings that take her across mountains and oceans. She is also a mental health advocate and an absolute fan of Grey’s Anatomy. More than anything else, she loves the sky, the salty sea breeze, and the inordinate amount of coffee that she takes every morning. You can check out some of her writings on her Facebook page: Facebook.com/FransivanWrites/