Living and Dying Under a Harvest Moon | A Short Story

{ 1039 words }

As dawn claims the night I see the morning sun begin to break over the horizon from our window. I’ve been watching Stella sleep. She’s so quiet and still, I want to feel her beating heart to be sure she’s still with me.

With passion as our spark, we’d made love, off and on, from dusk to midnight; our mortal bodies barely sustained the immortal force of our love. Afterward, we’d lay next to each other, silent, for there was no need to speak. The call and response of our lovemaking reverberated into some unseen alternate dimension. We welcomed a cool breeze from the window to wash over us and lick the beads of sweat that remained on us like morning dew on a grassy grove.

“I love the way you love me,” Stella whispered before drifting away to join the dreaming. I’d barely heard her; her voice was like a phantom she’d said it so soft.

I’d simply stroked her forehead and hushed her to sleep. Still afflicted by insomnia, I had kept vigil over Stella, watching her slumbering body for hours under the glow of the full moonlight. The sounds of a late summer night sang us lullabies.

This, I’d mused, is living.

In that blissful state of mind is when I’d come to realize that I love Stella more than life. Beyond it, if that is possible.

Now, with the sun gracing our world with its golden light, I am still sleepless. It’s been weeks now that sleep and I have been enemies. How can I sleep well or at all knowing what I know? I can’t escape the inevitable. I have to face the truth. I have to share that truth with Stella.

She stirs awake as I leave the bed.

“Evan?” she says with startled wide eyes and suspended breath.

“It’s all right, baby, I’m still here.”

A kind of clarity returns to her hazel eyes, her unease laid to rest. “Where are you going?”

“I have a few things I need to do before our trip. I’ll be back in a little while.”

“I want to go with you.”

We shower together, making love again. It’s not so much sex as it is just two bodies desperately trying to fuse into one as they share the same passion and heart. I know I will have to someday, sooner rather than later, but I don’t want to let her go.


* *

The sun is beginning to set as we arrive at the destination of our trip. Her grandparents’ house is a secluded ranch property that is an astonishing sight to behold, especially during a heartland summer. We marvel at all the vivid green that surrounds us as I park the car midway down the long gravel drive that leads to Stella’s childhood home.

“Ev, why are we stopping here?”

“I don’t want to go inside the house or check the horses just yet. I want to walk. With you. In the woods,” I say.

“Oh, like we used to when we were younger?”

“Crazy kids too smart for our own good.”

Stella notices the old field to the left of the house. “Honey, remember when we used to race down to the pond?”

“Mm-hmm.” I do remember.

“And you always cheated to let me win because I was a girl. It made me mad, but it was sweet.”

“Yeah, little did I know that when we got older you’d end up beating me in every other competition.”

She chuckled at that.

“You want to race now?” I offer her a head start like old times, but she declines. Instead, she wraps her arms around me and kisses me between my eyes, the tip of my nose, and then says that we are soul mates. To my awe she begins to unbutton her blouse. “What are you doing?”

“What’s it look like?”

“Stella, baby, just because we’re in the middle of nowhere—”

“Not a neighbor for miles.”

“—it doesn’t mean that—”

“And Gramps is fishing in faraway Florida.”

“—we should be streaking in the wild—”

“By the pond, where you will tell me what’s been eating away at you. Or, you’ll never touch these again.”

Stella’s right. I should tell her the truth.

* *

We lay in the grass, our feet mere inches from the pond. We have our clothes back on, our lack of modesty curbed by the multitude of thirsty, flighty critters. On our backs, we gaze the celestial sky. The clarity in the nighttime countryside is unmatched.

“Wow, the harvest moon is gorgeous,” she says, her voice hoarse and raspy.

“Always wondered why they call it that,” I say.

She says, “I won’t bore you with the astronomy of it. It’s just the full moon that comes closest to the autumn equinox. It looks orange at first, but we were a little distracted earlier.”

I swat the air near my ear where I hear the high pitch buzzing of a persistent mosquito. “Baby, you always were smarter than me.”

Stella groans at that. “Hey, I wish I could be arty and poetic like you, babe.”

I squeeze her tighter and nod my head to place a kiss on her brow.

“I’m surprised there aren’t more critters lurking about,” she says.

“You kidding me? There are bugs aplenty. I can guarantee the mosquitoes have declared open season on me.”

“Aw, sweetie, it’s because you’re so tasty.” Her giggle is still cute after all these years. “But you’re right, there are probably cicadas, fleas, June bugs, and spiders ready to feed on us too.”

“Comforting thought, Stel,” I say as she snickers. “Sounds like there’s a little band of crickets in that thicket over there. I don’t know what number they’re playing, but they seem to think they’re jamming.” We have a good laugh. And then a moment of silence follows.

Finally, Stella’s ghostly whisper demands: “So, tell me.”

And I do. I tell her my secret, the truth. It’s a revelation that unravels our reality, undoubtedly. In confessing, I am equally liberated and crestfallen. She deserves better than this. She deserves a lie. Anything but this ugly truth.

I feel like I have already died.

Written in April 2000.

Copyright © 2000-2016 by Brandon L. Rucker. All Rights Reserved.

Photo by Charlie Riedel, AP and is copyright © 2014. | RuckerWrites | @RuckerWrites

Amazon | Smashwords



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