Crisp and white, bars of light crept across the bedroom floor. I sighed and lifted the covers, awake after crawling to bed and not sleeping for five hours. I slouched to the window and lifted a slat to see a fullish moon hanging above the rooftops, washing out the imperfect glow of street lights lining the neighborhood.
Its edge was blurred by shadow; a stray fingertip caught in frame. The darkness spread, waxing toward eclipse as the moon slid into earth’s shadow. It swelled, quiet and inevitable, swallowing craters and valleys. Its progress was determined, imperceptable save a steady feeling of expanding loss; a sense of darkness more complete than the moment before.
I slipped through the door and heard my wife shift and settle in our bed. The pretense of stealth lasted until I reached my son’s room, and carefully-but-not opened his door. I unmistakenly bumped into his desk and stumbled over books and shoes, making as much noise as I unintentionally could. He stirred.
I reached for his shoulder and shook. ‘Ian,’ I whispered. ‘Ian.’
His head leapt from the pillow. He raised himself and looked at me, waiting for me to finish my thought, as if it weren’t two in the morning. ‘I need to show you something.’ He nodded and fell from the covers. No questions, no complaints.
I led him, plodding, to the window. We knelt on the velvet plush of the hippopotomus wedged against the wall. I tugged open the shade, tapped an angled finger on the glass, toward the ruddy moonrise. His eyes followed my hand, my fingertip. ‘Look.’
Sleep was banished, cast away and out. ‘Whaah…’, he breathed. Fingers tightened on my shoulder.
His face was bewondered; heart pulled along paths mine had forgotten. Lost. ‘Do you want to watch?’
He wobbled as he stood, balanced on the hippo’s face. ‘Yeah.’ Whispered but certain. He found one slipper beneath the desk, another between bed and bookcase. The moon rose higher. We padded down the hallway and stairs, to the front door.
The night was cold. Colder, than it should have been in April. Winter returned, having forgotten something in its rush to leave, long after it had overstayed its welcome. I sat on the chilled concrete of the porch, wrapped in my robe in a blanket without my socks.
He sat on my lap; my arm around his waist, his slippers brushing the top of my feet. I pulled the blanket over our heads, and bitter air slithered through the breach to curl around my ankles. We turned our faces toward the sky, and watched.
The moon was higher, and lesser. The shadows had deepened, a consuming rust spread along the lunar edge. There was a pressured silence. An incongruity. A father and son watching in isolation as a four-billion-year-old stone captured the light and warmth of a four-billion-year-old furnace.
And we talked, hushed. About the moon in its expanding orbit. About the sun, and the earth coming between them. About all the sunrises and sunsets blazing across 238,000 miles to fall on the surface of the moon, and turn it red. About the work of His fingers, and how He is mindful of us.
Jared- you have such a gift with imagery. This is a wonderful memoir. I could just picture Ian gazing up at the moon with you. This line is my favorite, I think: “A father and son watching in isolation as a four-billion-year-old stone captured the light and warmth of a four-billion-year-old furnace.”
I’m glad you enjoyed it, especially since it felt like an awkward description when I wrote it. Stone? Rock? Boulder? Sphere?