15th Aug 2016, 12:00 AM
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LilyRose 15th Aug 2016, 12:00 AM edit delete
Chapter Six

When Luna’s mother died two years ago, Luna took two months off from work. Bill Henderson let her have the eight weeks with only a hint of irritation at the prospect of having to find people to sit in for her. Mostly he got local kids home for Christmas Break from college. Luna, home alone at night, sat and smoked joints and listened to the station, listening to the people filling in for her. She allowed herself to be poisonous in her assessment of them, and sneered with evil mirth whenever they messed up in some obvious way. But it was only a momentary respite from her sorrow, and most of the time she felt like she was burning in a fire that wouldn’t let her die.

It was a snowy winter. Often she’d go out in the snowfall, walking, dressed in her down jacket, and an oversized Fedora bought at a yard sale. Her road was one of the last to get plowed, and often she’d be wading through snow knee-deep; a white channel of snow between a mix of pines and leafless trees. Occasionally a pickup or other four-wheel drive vehicle would rumble by, fat tires cutting swaths in the white cover.

The snow obliterated boundaries, it softened the world to a milky haze. Who could say what reality you were in, in a place like that? Sometimes, Luna thought she could feel a change; a shift in the vibration of the world. A kind of imminence. Of more. In the big Nor’easter of early February, she lost herself completely, wandering in a whiteout that had her constantly stumbling off the side of the road, yet still she went on. In the driving veils of snow, Luna could fully sense the world that lay beneath this one. Luna wondered if dead people lived in that world. She wondered if her mother was there.

Through the snow came an illumination, and the purring rumble of a truck. Then the headlights appeared, followed by the bulk; a dark pickup on towering black tires. It passed by on her left, but rolled to a stop when it reached her. Luna stopped and looked up. The drivers’ window was being rolled down.

A man’s face leaned out. He wore a knit ski cap and steel frame glasses, and had a thick, ragged moustache and beard. Luna waited, waiting to refuse the offer of a ride. But he didn’t offer; he didn’t say anything, he just looked out at her, his elbow resting on the lower frame of the window. The falling snow made everything shimmer, made everything blend a little with what was around it. He might have been a ghost, him and his truck.

Luna became very aware of how unafraid she was, being out here in a wilderness of storm, alone with a strange man in a big truck. That was the place to which her grief had brought her. She just didn’t give a fuck anymore.

The man spoke to her, but Luna was sure she’d misheard, because it seemed that he’d said “Sorry to hear about your mother,” this man she had never seen before in her life. Answering with the dull stupidity of one in emotional shock, Luna said, “Excuse me?”, as though they were chatting at a party, and not in this grainy borderland between here and there. “Excuse me?”, she repeated, because she wanted to put her mind to rest and hear what the man had really said.

“She didn’t happen to – “ the man said, pausing as though thinking of how to continue,
“ – tell you anything, before she died, did she?”

Luna had to consider this for a long time before she realized that what the man said made no sense. And yet there was some kind of sense behind it; a sense that she couldn’t quite read. But it was too much trouble, to think about it. She knew what was happening: someone had ripped a hole in reality again, she’d crossed over, and things didn’t have to make sense any more. But to think it all out; that was more energy than she had to give.

At that point, she might have even gotten into the truck with him, if he’d asked; simply out of exhausted resignation. Like there was some wind of fate that just blew her this way and that. She’d lost her bearings anyway; her inner compass was shot. When you’re out in the wilderness, any direction might be the way home.

The man shook his head, and let out a puff of air. “Whatever it was, it’s really best forgotten,” he said in a quiet voice. Then he pulled his head back into the cab of the truck. The engine revved, and the pickup rolled off into the storm.

Luna stood, and watched, staring at the place where the truck disappeared. She stood a long time; long enough for snow to pile up on her shoulders, and in the brim of the Fedora.

Oh, Mom, she thought, you’re the only one who could help me get through this, and you’re not here. Funny, how there was this little corner of her mind that knew just how far gone she was. How could she find her way home? There was no home to go to. The only way out of it was through it.
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