Contest #42 shortlist ⭐️

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Submitted on 05/16/2020

Categories: General

Mama said I have the moon under my skin. That the day I was born she could see the moonbeams dance, soft and silver, under my chest and belly. They spread into my arms and legs, split into my fingertips and toes. Mama said it was a sign of good things to come. 

I used to stay up all night talking at the moon, my second mother. She’d cradle me in waves of silver light, and whisper things in my ear. She’d send lightning bugs to my window, and crickets to my backdoor. She told me to paint my windowsill blue so bad spirits couldn’t cross, and to leave heavy cream, and the first pinch of freshly baked bread out on my back porch to keep the Good Men happy. Mama said I was made of moonlight, and moonlight led me. 

I kept moonlit wisdom in my back pocket. Secrets, superstitions, and most importantly, magic. Deaths and births always come in threes. Don’t ever throw your hair out, birds will use it to make a nest and you’ll get headaches. Take a spoonful of honey to keep your words sweet. Carry an acorn in your pocket for luck, a penny for prosperity, and a nail for protection. If you did not want to get pregnant again, walk in a circle sound a dead peach tree three times, and repeat the words “When this tree bore fruit I bore children, when it bears again, I will too.”. I kept these lessons close to my heart should I ever need them. I took spoonfuls of honey daily, and when bullies came ‘round I kept a nail in my pocket so they’d leave me alone. And they did.

 I’d talk to the moon all night, gathering secrets and knowledge. Mama couldn’t hear the moon but she’d sit with me anyway, feeding the wild foxes plums as they went by. The fruit ripe and sweet, soft when you pressed your thumb in it. Mama’d buy me tarot cars and bay leaves to write my desires on. My fingers, sticky from plum juice would grasp these gifts and use them wisely. You knock three times to wake up the spirits that lead the cards and chew peppermint and blow on the cards to put them back to rest. You burn the bay leaves after writing desires on them and drink the ashes mixed with water. 

The moon was my guide. And then mama got sick. 

The moon told me to take a peach pit and stick it under her pillow. That the peach pit would suck all the sickness from her body. 

The next morning mama was dead. 

I cried to the moon that night and she crooned at me sweetly, comforted me gently. She wrapped her moonbeams around my shoulders and sent cypress to our back garden. Death. She braided my hair with yew and marigold. Sorrow and grief

I stopped talking to the moon after that. 

Life got hard. I was 16, which meant I got sent to live with my aunts out in Texas. They were rude and hateful and told me whatever happened to my mama she had it coming for a long time. I told them to go fuck themselves. They slapped me. We fought a lot, and I didn’t carry nails in my pocket because I wanted a fight. I wanted something to hurt and sting because dammit, mama was gone and I was feeling more and more like an empty hole every day. Like there was a leak in my heart, slowly deflating. I’d clench my fist and bear my teeth and I became so angry I’d shake every day at the state if the world. At the state of my world. I have too many teeth to be soft, and too many ghosts to be anything other than haunted. 

Here’s something they don’t tell you. Grief grows with you. It’ll always be there like a well-worn jacket and the jacket will always be three sizes too big, no matter how much you grow. Here’s something else they don’t tell you. You don’t stop loving a person once they’re gone. You just walk around carrying all this love with nowhere to put it. And the love rots inside of you till it no longer feels like love. Just more grief. And if you carry enough grief with you, if you hold onto that pain as tight as you can, for as long as you can, you stop becoming a person. You’re just a graveyard full of the past. It changes you. 

I’m a feral dog now. I snarl before you even reach out to pet me. I bite hands and draw blood. I think I bit God’s hand once. He’s had it out for me ever since. I have it out for him too. I throw peach pits at the sky and wait for a man with nails in his hands to crash dead into my backyard. I get slapped for that too. 

I think I could be good. If I tried. If I talked to the moon again. If I wasn’t so tired all the time. If I wasn’t so angry. If this world meant more to me than something to hate. But I’m too tired. Too tired of being dragged through the world by the roots of my hair, by the clench of my fist. Let me dance through it gently and split my feet on its soft edges. Let me be broken by something other than pain. Let me feel something other than anger. 

But I don’t talk to the moon anymore, and I get slapped before dinner. And on the roughest nights, I go to sleep with a peach pit under my pillow. But I always wake up. 

Mama said I have the moon under my skin. That the day I was born she could see the moonbeams dance, soft and silver, under my chest and belly. They spread into my arms and legs, split into my fingertips and toes. Mama said it was a sign of good things to come. 


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