There is a full moon out tonight. I'm looking at it through a window. It’s the kind of moon that makes me want to leave my house and just stand in the moonlight. I feel obligated to enjoy the moonlight but I have no idea where to begin. Like a writing assignment with a few given guidelines but otherwise completely up to you;
“write about the moonlight.”
“what about the moonlight?”
“anything you want.”
“Lets go on an adventure.” Soli giggles.
She and Chloe, the French exchange student, are standing in my doorway, grinning.
They’re refusing to come in, they want me to come out.
Soli’s wearing a blue scarf around her head and her nose is bright red like it always gets when she’s cold. She’s sniffing.
I'm barefoot in the kitchen and the draft coming in from February outside is less inviting than the moonlight was so I pull on my boots quickly, without any socks, racing the clock in my head that has begun to count down. I only have so much time before my rational mind catches up with me. Soli and her adventures have this affect on me. Like a “do it before you think it all the way through” feeling.
We run across the street to the farm where soli has parked her car.
“why did you park here?” I ask her, shivering.
“your parents know I don’t have a license.”
“you don’t have a license?”
She pulls open the car door, cackling.
I've known soli for eleven years and still, when she cackles, I feel like I'm part of some sort of prank. I imagine her saying “lets go convince Katie to come out with us and then do something awful to her in the dark! Heh heh heh.”
At the top of the hill, where the road ends, we park the car and continue on foot.
In the woods above Mary Daily Field there are moon shadows.
In the woods between the field and Timmy’s house, where the trees are really small and thin and tall, the shadows are thin and long like the trees.
Everything is frosty grey and white and silver, nothing is black.
We can’t find the path.
I’ve lost all sense of direction. At night you’d think you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the leaf covered ground and the leaf covered path. You can. The path is like a deer path, the way the trees lean slightly towards each other, like a canopy, over a spot where the leaves dip a tiny bit down where the path is lower than the rest of the wood. We tell stories, panting cold air while we talk while we walk.
“Me and Elias…” soli says as she takes a little skipping step ahead of me then looks back “in the summer, we climbed a fence of this fancy schmancy house and swam naked in their pool.”
Elias is her friend from wilderness camp. I've never met him but I've seen the portrait she drew of him and whenever she mentions him, which is often, I see that sketchy face with small eyes and a goatee, in soft pencil lead. Swimming naked in a pool, he looks like wet paper.
We walk to Rochelle’s house. The lights are on inside.
“They’re so clean.” Soli says, looking into the living room. It sounds like an accusation.
The little red eye of a security system shoos us away from the front door and we creep around back and throw rocks at Rochelle’s bedroom window. She doesn’t come out.
We sneak up on Tim’s house the back way, through the trees between his house and Rochelle’s road, where you come out on the far side of the lake on his property.
We knock on his window. We can hear a television inside
“are you watching lost?” I ask when he comes out
“yeah I don’t think it’s a re-run.”
He lets us in and we stand in his kitchen and are rudely abused by his dogs while we wait for him to decide to come out with us or not. After a minute we leave him there and walk back around the pond, back into the woods, silently past Rochelle’s, across Mary Daily field where the ground feels strange, frozen... But frozen after being wet. I can’t see the grass in the dark I’m not wearing socks in my boots.
We crunch and slip across the field and slip up the hill where the roots of the trees are like stairs, pausing at the top of that twisty hill by the old sheep pen when Chloe turns and looks up at the moon through the black bare branches and declares:
"je veut fair un film!"
Back in Soli's car we speed, she’s flooring the pedal over the unpaved farm road blaring Eleanor Rigby, like a lullaby in stark contrast to the breakneck speed and the bouncy chaos of the car and I didn't realize until just now
when I sat down to try to write poetically about my moonlit night,
how often I stopped to take deep breaths, in the woods,
breathing the cold air like a fish finding oxygen in water…
or a human finding oxygen in water, its probably harder for one of us to find it than it is for a fish…
The point is I was sucking it out, like drinking through a straw… like eating. And in school today I felt like I wasn’t taking deep enough breaths. I've felt like my body is shrinking. Like my organs are limiting their intake down to the bare necessities of survival.