Ceremony by Moonlight

In the blue bedroom, sheets glow with the moon. Everything is clear to him now, every crevice and cave, the empty months.

She murmurs something in her safe, drugged sleep. And she turns, grips the blanket, turns away. He decides not to wake her. He sees his robe on the chair and decides it is time. Time to rise above the moon sheets, the blue world of insomnia, who knows, maybe even the remnants of lingering grief.

He rises, pulls his robe around him. She sleeps so deeply. He watches her for a few moments, then turns to go. The ceremony awaits.

Downstairs in the kitchen, beneath the naked light bulb, the world is made fresh and harsh again. He downs three quick shots of bourbon and counts the linoleum squares on the floor. He is ready at last. Ready for the box, which has sat for months between man and wife on the kitchen table.

He takes the box in his hands, holds it aloft, as careful as a baby. He remembers. This box is his future and his past. And a lost dream, he now knows. He puts the box under his arm and carries it into the garage where he grips a shovel with his free hand.

The ceremony begins, next to the faded plaster Virgin in the backyard. They have decided that this is the best place. Here, where if he listens hard, he can still hear a childhood singing, days and nights, a tune now gone rusty.

Simply, reverently, he digs the hole and buries the box. Inside it, photographs, scout badges, jewels of adolescence, all kinds belonging once to a son. Missing now, without a trace, a grave, and never an answer they might live with, a lost child in a vast country.

The father, now suddenly old, says a silent prayer, then turns to go, to enter the house, to remember, to forget, the find his place on sheets that glow with the moon.

 

Christopher Woods is a writer, teacher and photographer who lives in Houston and Chappell Hill, Texas. He has published a novel, The Dream Patch, a prose collection, Under a Riverbed Sky, and a book of stage monologues for actors, Heart Speak. His work has appeared in The Southern Review, New England Review, New Orleans Review, Columbia and Glimmer Train, among others. His photographs can be seen in his gallery -http://christopherwoods.zenfolio.com/