The Great Beyond
“One night the moon came galloping by
On a big horse right across the night sky
One night the moon came galloping by
Called all the dreamers to come for a ride”*
Blackness. Silence. Robbie scrunches further under his blankets, shores up the external pillow walls, and slaps his hands over his ears. He feels his stomach coiling in anxiety, sharp pains stretching out from its twisted centre. His ears, hot and sore from their fleshy earmuffs, still ring from the battle. Behind the door, an inferno of alcohol-fuelled rage and discontent contort his parents into vitriol spewing demons that pitch and claw at each other, shrieking their hatred, their unhappiness. Outside the window lies the Great Beyond.
He longs to open the window, to clamber out, to run uncaring, unthinking into the Great Beyond, to hear the moon’s eerie song, to feel the wind lifting strands of his hair, whipping them playfully in front of his eyes, to feel the earth, cooling now, and gently welcoming beneath his bare feet. He imagines his parents in the Great Beyond. A different version of them. Smiling, happy, radiating love, they stand, arms open, beckoning him, and he runs.
His mother’s voice sounds from the distance. So far away it feels insurmountable, but there’s an urgency he can’t ignore. His stomach twists in searing pain and he doubles over.
There’s an insistence now, a desperation in her call. What danger was she trying to warn him of?
He blocks out the moon’s siren song, he blocks out the welcome of the earth, he blocks out the wind whipping his hair. Robbie listens only for her voice, weak and broken.
“Robbie… run… get help… go”
He throws off the blankets, shrapnelling pillows around the room, and flings himself at his window. He struggles with the latch, sticky with melting paint from the heat of the day, wrenches it open, and slides up the old wood-framed window with its peeling surface.
Robbie’s heart leaps into his throat, nearly choking him. The sound, so innocuously like a door slammed too close, reverberates through the house.
Then there is silence. Silence so complete, so still, that Robbie’s ears ache from it.
He scrambles through the open window, palms sweaty, heart racing, into the night. His feet hit the ground, the earth cool and gently welcoming. The moon sings its eerie song, and a gentle wind lifts strands of his hair, whipping them playfully in front of his eyes. And he runs.
* Lyrics: One Night the Moon by Paul Kelly (http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/p/paul_kelly/one_night_the_moon.html)
My heart is still pounding! I really love the way you use the repetition of his running scene – very effective.
Thanks so much, SL. I so appreciate you engaging so deeply with my story.
I like how you made the silence the scariest of noises. At least when his parents were fighting he knew what was happening.
Oh I’m so glad you got that, Nate! Better the devil you know, than the angel you don’t, and all that.