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The Grey Matters


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A Snapshot of a Novel…Perhaps

A note from Melinda: Tell me what you think. I wrote this today as a spin off of a way-too-long manuscript I wrote years ago. I’m using the same character as before, but the beginning of the book is different. Some factors are true, such as a sister writing a song, but others are entirely fictional. My mind’s been reeling lately :) 

{Not Yet Titled}

by Melinda Williams

My sister once wrote a song. This was back when idle time was possible. Back before every moment was a struggle. To breath. To laugh. To take another step forward. She spent hours playing her guitar. I spent hours sitting in my room and listening through the wall. First, she made up an entire folk story on her own. It’s a story that will stand the test of time. It might even happen… it might have already happened. The beauty of the story is that no one would know it if it had. Has anyone before ever managed to write a potentially true folk legend?

Imagine a dark night with only a small moon to light up the sky. The stars aren’t particularly bright, but the small sliver of the moon is an almost neon yellow. Now call this a Lemon Moon.

The Lemon Moon, so the story of ages goes, changes the world. It comes to take the better half of any relationship. Think of the person you are closest to in this world. A young boy could have a close relationship with the grandmother who raised him. Two sisters could be best friends with nothing, no man, standing in between them. But the closest bond, not better or worse than family or friendship, is the bond of two people who have met and fallen in love. The love between them must be real. This doesn’t always mean happy. It could mean sadness, hurt, betrayal and even hate. For doesn’t it take real love to hate? Imagine the person in your life who loves you. You love them, too. Maybe you met years ago before wrinkles set in and hair receded. Perhaps you met yesterday. True love requires no time line to exist.

In all its glory, the Lemon Moon takes the better half of these two people, no matter which type of relationship they’re from. If the young boy is truly, down to his core, a better person than his grandmother (though aren’t all grandmothers the best?), guess what? He’s gone. If one sister’s soul is purer than the other, she’s disappeared in this dark and almost starless night. If the one you love has loved you deeper, treated people kinder, and it is the cause of their true character… then you’re alone.

Right now, can you say which you would be? Would you disappear or be left behind with all the other lesser halves? And here’s the important part: you will eventually forget that they ever existed. You will be alone, you will feel lost. You will wonder where your other half is and eventually, you will only feel a small worry. You might reach out for someone in the night, finding only an empty bedside, yet not remember who it was you were expecting to feel. Your better half will eventually disappear from your memory entirely. Grandmothers will forget their grandsons. Sisters will forget sisters. Lovers will forget lovers. The Lemon Moon has taken them and the rest of the world is left to make due with what’s left behind.

My sister has written many songs, but has only created one legend. I’ve never written a song, but I’ve created my own through my actions. Here’s my story. My legend. And at the end of it, I hope you understand why, if the Lemon Moon were to really come true, I’d be the one left behind.

Don’t judge me.

 ~~~~~

Three Years Earlier

I’m getting married today. It’s officially midnight. I’m twenty-nine years old and in a few hours I’ll be expected to walk down the aisle. I wish this night could last forever.

“Just keep this song on repeat,” I tell Eliza. She glances over at me and returns her eyes to the road.

“Is it going to make you cry more?”

I wipe my cheek with the back of my right hand. “No.”

We drive down the highway until the edge of town is only three minutes away. Eliza switches lanes to get off and turn around, back toward our parents house where we’ll spend the night.

“Keep going,” I whisper. She doesn’t say anything, but she listens and doesn’t get off on the exit. She pushes the gas pedal and we keep driving on. I can only close my eyes and pretend we are leaving for good. I can imagine a life so different than the one I’ve been zombie-like in getting through each day. I almost tell Eliza to pull over and let me out… confident that I can run faster than this Kia can carry us. My legs are restless, just like when I try to fall asleep each night. My hands are practically shaking in my lap. Eliza knows these things but she doesn’t need to acknowledge them.

Another twenty minutes pass by.

“Evvy?”

I sigh and press the tips of my fingers against the window, staring up at the moon. It’s just a small sliver. Tomorrow night will be dark, which just figures. “Yeah.”

“Yeah,” she says, and takes the next exit.

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Lemon Moon {Part I}

Listen to this.

Remember this.

Read this:

 

LEMON MOON

 

By Melinda Williams

 

 

 

August, 2012

JOHNNY

 

You may have grown up seeing at least one “missing person” poster taped up to a wooden pole in your hometown. Maybe you even saw multiple signs a day if you lived somewhere big like New York City or Chicago. The faces may not have meant much. They were just random faces of people you were likely to never meet, find, or care about. You might have felt a pang of regret for the ones who lost them, the ones who were still around. But if you’re from a tiny town, say, Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, chances are you’ve seen maybe one. And although it felt like everyone in town knew one another, you didn’t recognize the face.

I now live in a town where half the people are missing, therefore, you get your fair share of “missing person” posters. I’ve grown accustomed to them. I pass by a picture of my second grade teacher every day on my way to the store, and inside Andy, the old guy who owns the store, has up a picture of his wife. Being a small town most everyone was married or at least had someone they loved. And half of each pair disappeared.

Did you hear me?

I said

Half of each pair disappeared. Poof. Vanished. Before eyes. All alone. Unexpectedly. Gone. Forever.

 

And now only I know why.

 

 June, 2010

 

“I’m never going to get out of here,” Anne told me. She and I were walking up the dirt road and away from school. Summer break was upon us. Next year we’d be seniors and for most kids in our town break would just keep on being reality once high school ended. What I mean is, not very many were bound for college. There was no way Anne’s parents could afford to send her anywhere. My future looked a little brighter, except for the fact that I wouldn’t go anywhere without her.

“Sure you will,” I told her, straightening out my baseball cap and running a few steps to kick a rock at the bend in the road.

“That gets dirt everywhere,” she said softly.

“You always wear sandals,” I said right back. She did. We lived in the middle of the desert and she wore open toed sandals every day. Her feet were always dirty because of it. The dust from the road really did get everywhere.

“At least my toes can be free.” Anne crossed her arms in front of her chest and said, “I’m stuck here forever.”

“Who says? Who says you can’t move anywhere you want when we graduate? You could go be a model or something.” It was true, too. Get Anne into a big city and she’d be spotted right away for her good looks, her tall and thin body.

“Oh yeah? It’s that easy? Who’s gonna pay for the car to get me down the highway? Who’s gonna pay my bus fare?”

“Save up for the next year, I guess.” I was only seventeen, just like her. I didn’t know how a kid went about moving away from home. Anne at least had some advantages. She hadn’t always lived in Truth or Consequences. She was beautiful. Her home life was awful, so she had more drive in her to get away. (I’m the guy who can turn a terrible family situation into something positive. It drives Anne crazy, but I know she secretly loves that about me.) Anne didn’t say anything in response, but bent down to pick a small dandelion growing by the side of the road. She held it and stared at it with her feet a foot apart and her head tilted to the side. Her braided hair had loose strands.

“They say these are weeds. If something so pretty can be a weed, then I guess not everything is as it seems.”

Anne often said things like this. I often didn’t respond. Not knowing what to say about dandelions, I stuffed my hands in my pockets and cleared my dry throat. “I’m cookin’ dinner tonight. Want to come over? Kick off summer with style? I bet my dad would even let us each have a beer.”

Anne looked down at the gravel getting coarser under our feet as we walked. We always walked to her house first and then I’d walk home alone. We did this almost every day of the school year since she moved to town in third grade. Her mouth formed a straight line and a strand of her long hair fell forward past her shoulders. “I don’t think I’m free,” she said.

“Oh. Well, okay.” We walked past the big cottonwood tree we’d climb back before she wore short skirts and I was too afraid to embarrass myself. “What are you doing?”

Anne looked at me. Her words were challenging. “Probably hanging out with Gavin.”

Oh, I thought, right. Gavin. Her new boyfriend or whatever he was to her. For her he was a cool older boy who paid attention to her (as if everybody didn’t already), somebody to kiss and hold hands with. For him, she was… someone that I hoped he lied about, because if the stories from the locker room after gym class were true I wouldn’t be able to look at Anne. I convinced myself it was only rumors and cocky Gavin lying through his teeth. If she was capable of doing what he spoke of so often, I sure as hell wanted it to be with me. Anne and I were meant to be. Best friends since third grade. High school sweethearts who had never really been sweet… just there for one another. I was patient in allowing Anne the time for her love to be realized and blossom the way mine already had. Gavin was the only thing in my way.

“Alright.” I kicked another rock.

“If that’s okay with you,” she added, not hiding her annoyance. I hadn’t done a single thing.

“Of course it is,” I said in that calm way I learned from my dad. Never raised my voice. Never showed a temper, if I even had one. If something bothered me no one would ever know but me.

“Maybe another night,” she said, shrugging her shoulders.

“Right. I cook dinner all the time,” I reminded her.

“Right.” Sometimes, although having known each other for nine years, we sounded like acquaintances. We sounded like we had just met.

“See ya, Johnny,” Anne said as she waved to me and her long tan legs walked her up the dirt driveway.

“Bye,” I said. I watched her unlock her front door. I always made sure she got inside before walking away.

Then I headed home by myself. I took the long way. My parents weren’t actually expecting me to cook that night. I would have done it only if Anne had come over. I walked through an old abandoned field, past an ancient adobe house long ago left vacant, and back to the tree by the road that we used to climb. I looked around to make sure I was alone and I put my hands on the lowest branch. I used to give Anne a boost with my hands and then jump up to grab hold. We’d both grown a lot. Anne, more than the average girl, and me, about average. But at least I was tall enough to reach without hardly raising my arms. And up I went, stepping on the sturdiest branches, passing through the thickest part that I was still skinny enough to squeeze through, and eventually perching myself on a high branch. I left my backpack at the bottom of the tree. I didn’t have a book or anything to write with. All I had was my own thoughts and they were enough.

I wished that day that she had chosen me over him. I’d have still helped her climb the tree. Even if she went ahead of me with her short skirt on, I’d never look too closely or try anything. I just wanted to spend time, maybe hold her hand. Maybe even kiss her. And before anyone goes thinking I’m not a regular teenage guy who wants sex all the time, don’t get me wrong. I had my own magazines stashed under my bed and my favorite page had Anne’s long lost twin on it.

The only problem was I would never have the guts to try anything with her. So in order to feel better about the sex I’d probably never have with Anne, I was content with hoping for something as simple as time spent. All those other things would come later once she realized the whole us being meant to be thing.

 

 

Part II coming soon…..