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

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What Tomorrow Never Brings | A Micro Fiction

{ 318 words }

Today’s The Day! Daddy’s coming home! Gotta get ready. Gotta go get Mommy outta bed so she can help me get ready. I’m Daddy’s Girl and a Daddy’s Girl should look her most beautifulest when her Daddy comes home.  My Daddy’s a fighter pilot in the Army – um, I mean Air Force! He likes to fly over the emimy’s buildings and shoot mis’uls at dem. He says it’s for a good reason like freedom and stuff. I heard him tell Mommy about a big ol’ impor’dant building him an’ the other pilots blowed up once. My brother thinks war is stupid, but he don’t know nothin’ ‘cause he’s a Momma’s Boy.

Time to get up, Mommy. You haf’ta get out my favorite dress and put my hair in pigtails. You know, the yellow one with the purple hearts on it. What do you mean dat won’t be nes’sary? My Daddy’s gonna be home any minute! What kind of prob’em was there? Mommy? Answer me! Why won’t you get out of bed? What’s wrong with you? Why you look sad? Daddy’s coming home!

Whatever.  I’m not going to the babysitter’s.  I’m a big girl I can dress myself. I’m not gonna disappoint my Daddy. After I get all dressed up I’m gonna watch TV in the family room ‘til it’s time to go pick up my Daddy.  Then when I see him I’m gonna run up to him and jump into his arms and give him a big ol’ hug n’ kiss and say “Welcome Home Daddy!”

The stupid news came on and Scobby-Doo went off. The ugly news man says what Mommy said. There’s a prob’em and some soldiers from the war won’t be coming home. I wonder what the prob’em is? I don’t unner’stand dis stuff.

Well, like Daddy says, there’s always tomorrow. I’m gonna wear my yellow purple heart dress anyways ‘cause Daddy would like that.

Written: March 16, 2000

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

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What It’s Like | A Flash of Dialogue

{ 756 words featuring Jamila and Tommy }

I wanna borrow one of your guns.

What fo’?


You a girl, you don’t need no gun.

Yes, I do.

No, you don’t.

Then neither do you.

Whatever, girl. Don’chu have cooking shows or The Disney Channel to be watchin’?

You know me better than that.

Go help your Ma with the dishes or something.

You should know better. I ain’t ever been like that and you know it.

I don’t see why not.  You should be more like a girl. I blame your brother for that.

Don’t go there.

He always wanted a lil’ brother but he got a lil’ sister instead, so he tried his damnedest to make you a tomboy.

So why you need your gun?


What’chu need a gun for? You don’t shoot nobody.

Girl, you don’t know what’chu talkin’ ‘bout. Now run along . . .

Just a tough guy with a gun who don’t even use it. Wannabe gangsta.

Shut up, girl, you don’t know what’chu talkin’ ‘bout.  This a man’s thang.

I bet you ain’t ever shot anyone.

Lil’ girl, you don’t know shit. Another one a yo’ brotha’s mistakes.

You leave my brother outta this…

Brought you up to be like a man…well, a boy…but he hid the truth from you. He wouldn’t let’chu near the ugliness.


Way I see it, if you gonna take away the girl inside, you gots ta put the streets in her…

That’s a bunch of bull—

Ain’t no girl got no bid’ness meddlin’ in man’s world. What’chu need a gun fo’ anyway?


I heard that already.

Because I want to get those suckas . . . killed my brother.

Fuck you talkin’ ‘bout, girl?

You heard me.

Do you know what it’s like to kill somebody?  No? Of course not ‘cuz you a silly ass lil’ teenage girl try’na be like her dead big brother.

Shut up. Shut the fuck up!

You little shit …

What the fuck you smack me for?

‘Cuz you don’t need to be talkin’ like that. You talk like that ‘round your mama? Huh? Say it again and you get the same.

You didn’t have to hit me.  If my brother was here he’d kick your . . . butt.

Yeah, but he ain’t here cause he’s dead. And you know why he’s dead? ‘Cuz he fucked around and got himself killed. He wasn’t wronged . . . yeah, you’d like to believe that, but you pay fo’ what you get, you get what you pay fo’. No disrespect, but he had it comin’. He did wrong to the wrong people.  But it ain’t my place to tell you ‘bout all that.

[Momentary pause]

So have you ever killed anyone? 


What was it like?

To kill anotha nigga?  Girl, the first time is the worst experience of yo’ life.  You get in real close and personal, right? You’re . . . what’chu call it . . . intimate, right?  Intimate with another muhfucka, another living person . . . a human being, right? You come up behind him and throw your arm around his neck . . . get’im ‘round the shoulders.  Then you take the gun, shove it into his back . . . you pull the trigger, right? POP! POP! POP! POP!  Four shots, quick . . . straight through the heart . . . lungs . . . kidneys . . . whatever.  He falls to the ground, but somehow he gets his hands locked onto you . . . he’s pulling you down wit’im . . . it’s like a death grip. You see his eyes . . . and fam, they wide as all hell . . . he’s coughing up blood . . . choking on it . . . blood splashing all over his face . . . his chest. Sprinkles of it hit you in the face . . . gets in your eyes . . . and he won’t fuckin’ let go!  And he’s shaking and shivering like he’s freezing . . . it’s all the blood oozing from his body . . . like his soul’s evaporatin’ from his blood or his body. It freaks you out . . . to see this dude . . . dyin’ . . . starin’ at’chu with dead eyes . . . so you freak and empty the rest of the clip in’im.  He let’s go . . . finally, ‘cuz he’s dead.

Oh, Jesus!

Girl, wha’chu you crying for? You asked what it’s like.

Written June 27, 2000 (updated for modern times)

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

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To Envy | A Double-Drabble

{ 200 words }

You can tell things about people, if you watch them closely. The body speaks in its quiet, physical language.

Like the couple at the diner. They come every week on Thursdays. The man is tall and handsome, so confident in himself. And the dark haired woman next to him, on his arm, the center of his attention.  They have a special bond, a chemistry all their own.

You can see it if you watch intently.

Be very discrete about it.

Don’t gawk.

Watch them secretly. You would see how comfortable they are in their skin. You would see how they are secure in themselves and the security they share with each other. You would see that together they have something special, a treasure.

Now, if you were to look closely at me you would see something altogether different.

If you look really hard, read me like the open book that I am, you would see it: the envy.

You see, I too want a loyal person at my side, a warm, fulfilling relationship to define me.  I want their special something, their treasure.

And I’ll take it.

I’ll have it.

Make it mine. All mine.

Then I’ll be their envy.

Written: March 13, 2000.

© 2000 by Brandon L. Rucker. All Rights Reserved.

Envy image by Sometimes Alice FX and is Copyright © 2015.

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