Moonsongs Episode 2, Pt. 1 - A Strange Customer
Despite being cocooned inside a warm vehicle, my arms prickled. Outside, a gray November sky churned, spitting moisture on a small, tidy graveyard below. A distant willow tree, limbs only dotted with leaves this late in the season, whipped about wildly in a gusting breeze. Beneath the tree were three graves, but only two of them were filled. I smiled.
There wasn’t much fond recollection in the gesture. Truthfully, I’d barely known any of the names on the headstones. However, I did owe the man who belonged in the empty grave some credit for my excited mood. Thanks to him, my life had been transformed, a revolution twenty-two years in the making.
A glance at my mother’s headstone, the one furthest to the left in the trio, sent my foot stretching toward the accelerator in the floorboard. My hand paused on the gearshift.
I should get out and pay my respects…
That’s why I’d come out here, wasn’t it? I’d only visited Mom’s grave twice since she’d died. One of those times had been at Granny’s funeral, a little over a year ago. I wasn’t even sure if that counted.
A familiar cauldron of anger and regret bubbled over in my gut.
Wasn’t their fault I had no relationship with them…
But was it mine? After Mom died, my alcoholic father had kept me away from my only living grandparents. Dad was dead and gone by the age of sixteen. I’d thought Grandpa had died somewhere in between. That left just Granny and me. We were reluctant housemates until cancer drew a line through her name. Suddenly, I was alone, twisting in the breeze like the last leaf on a barren and dying family tree.
Then Grandpa showed back up.
I revved the engine of the pickup to an angry roar and banged my fist on the steering wheel. A couple of skinny blackbirds perched on a granite cross nearby took to the air. Their muted, laughing squawks filtered through the windows as the engine idled down.
“Even they think I’m a chicken shit,” I muttered.
I sighed, and put the truck into drive. Seeing Mom’s and Granny’s expiration dates plastered on a rock—like some kind of fucking geological milk carton—was more than I cared to bite off for one day.
I’d made the trip. Next time, I’ll actually get out of the car, Mom.
By the time I’d driven home, the giddy optimism had been beaten out of me, not knowing why I’d even gone to the graveyard. It’s wasn’t like my ghost family would be hanging out, waiting to give me props for finally beginning to figure my life out. Even if they had been there, I had news for them: their little caterpillar was more of an ugly, floundering moth than dazzling butterfly.
A visit to the rusted mailbox at the curb confirmed just how little I’d grown. Another cutoff notice on my water bill waited for me. I owed thirty dollars. I spent more on my weekly energy drink habit for Christ’s sake. Even at twenty-two, I could still find creative ways to epically suck at being a responsible adult.
Honestly, other than not being able to flush a toilet, I couldn’t say I’d have missed the water much. Any old Western movie was all the proof I needed to know only dying men and animals would drink anything but whiskey out here on the Texas plains. God only knew the last time they ran tests on the stuff they were passing off as tap water.
Most of the H2O came from Lake Hollow, a modest-sized reservoir, located outside of town near the cemetery. The lake was a cool place to throw a keg party—and an algae lover’s paradise—but our little watering hole wasn’t of much use to anyone in need of more than a brown shower.
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