EXCERPTED FROM “MOODS OVER THE SEPTEMBER MOON
I sit by the window, lonely. Below, I watch the cars roll by. I see families on their way to, perhaps, a thousand different places. Being Saturday, the possibilities are endless. I raise the window a bit, to let in the cool autumn air. Although mixed with elements from motorized vehicle, it’s still refreshing.
I hang my head out the window just enough so that I could see the intersection, where west meets north. I watch the turning of stoplights, from yellow to red to green, oh, at least thirty or forty times. Subconsciously, I’m taking a survey, seeing how many cars with children turn onto the northbound. Out of these, I wonder how many are going to the Fall Festival, up at Hansen Park Stadium. Big event. Arts and Crafts, food booths, petting zoo, pie-eating contests and everything. Maybe next year, we can go. Maybe.
I pull my head back in, close the window. Enough is enough. I need some distraction, that’s what I need. I pull a book from my collection, The Great Gatsby. After a few pages I put it down, realizing that I’m not in the mood reading about the privileged, the upper class, the elite. I pull Grapes of Wrath, a much better read at the moment. Something I could better relate to, I suppose.
It’s getting dark now. Dad’s still not home, hadn’t called. I wonder about what Trish said earlier. I don’t believe her, not to say she’s lying, but she’s probably misinformed, that’s all. No way Dad could be seeing another woman. Still, I wonder why he hadn’t come home the last two nights. All right, I needn’t worry. He’ll walk in any moment with a reasonable explanation, and then, Mom would come out of the bedroom happy again. Dad will probably have a bunch of money to give her, tell her to order pizzas and fried chicken and a few six packs of soda pop. Maybe tell Lenny, if he’s home by then, to run to the all-night bakery down the street and pick up a pie for dessert. Apple would be nice. Heck, we’ll have a party.
Time passes, it’s getting darker. I look out the window. Families from the Fall Festival are passing below, helium-filled balloons rising toward the moon. I’m getting really hungry now, the last good meal I had was, oh, let me think—four nights ago—the night Mom made mashed potatoes with hamburger meat gravy and string beans. She was in a better state then, her cooking skills honed, her love for us unconditional. She hugged us, one at a time, said she loved us, then cleared the table, washed the dishes and joined us in the living room to watch a bit of television. I don’t even know what was showing, it didn’t matter, what mattered was having Mother, alive and well, next to me on the couch. Lenny, lately the rebellious one, stayed home with us, acting like the son, the brother. With clear eyes he worked on a new drawing, another Dean Martin for Mom, this time though, with Jerry Lewis, the both of them tap dancing on what looked like a floor of ice. Wendy, unbelievable. She parted with her Cindy Doll as she held Mom’s hand throughout the night. Had Trish put the doll up on the closet shelf. Unbelievable. Oh, what a wonderful night it was.
The clock is ticking much too loud. I dare look at it, because if I do, I may realize the truth, shatter my hopes of having a nice supper of pizza and fried chicken with my family. I sit and stare at the portrait on the wall, just above the television. Four children, posed in pastel, two parents, well postured and proud. Easter, six years ago. Stamped just below Wendy’s little booties, the date and time of our togetherness, unadulterated and real.
My eyes are getting heavy; I’m sinking quickly into the folds of unconsciousness. The family portrait is melting, resembling a bowl of Neapolitan ice cream left in the heat. We’re becoming a swirl, a few swipes against the canvass.
And then… darkness. Dreams come; again I’m taken to a different place, a different time. I see towering pillars, white marbled buildings. Walking around with aim and purpose, long-robed men with white flowing beards, women toting baskets. Mother is calling my name, her voice so strong, so real. I’m lost in the crowd, people shuffling all around. Strangers all, they pass through me, I’m nothing to them. Mother’s voice is fading, I run frantic through the street, in search for her. Children laughing, mocking me, they know I’m not one of them.
I look ahead. In the distance, seven hills. I know that is where I must go. But something is pulling at me, holding me back. The laughter is louder, the mocking more severe. I try to run, I fail. And now, I’m awake again.