American Kids Contemporary

The Moon, it’s a planet and the Earth has just one. Other planets have several moons, Mars has two little moons. I wonder what that’s like? I can see in my imagination’s eye, Martians sitting on their verandas, sipping whatever it is that Martians drink. I envision a filmy grey smoke dancing above their cups filled with blue liquid, and they would be looking up into the sky at their twin moons wondering about the inhabitants on other planets. On the planets of Jupiter and Saturn who have dozens of moons, it must be a magical night, especially on a full moon night. Our Moon has always held a prestigious place in my world, maybe because my last name is Lune, which is French for Moon. The “e” is silent, it’s pronounced “loon”. And yes, there has been some teasing, mostly in my younger years. Still my relationship with the moon is inextricable. I wear a sapphire and gold crescent shaped necklace with flecks of diamonds dropping from it, they serve as stars, it all hangs on a tiny gold braided chain around my neck, and I wear it proudly.

As a young child, my father explained how honored I should be that my name was so strong and universal, “everyone knows the moon and most everyone will have a cosmic connection to you,” he would say. I knew that this would not always be true, but he wanted me to know how special we are to have such an omnipresent word to define us as a family. For this reason, when children called me loony, I would threaten them with my moon craft, as I called it; it was a take on witchcraft. Though I never really partook in occult practices. Not until…

“It will work with any kind of water,” my father explained to eight-year-old me. He poured tap water into a carafe. It was the same one my mother often used for her wine. I think she liked drinking wine out of an elegant looking carafe, rather than a bottle. She said it made her feel like she was in Paris, where she often reminded me, she had spent many summers walking along the Seine. It must have been beautiful, though I’d never been, I promised myself one day I would visit the City of Lights.

“Exactly, what are we doing Dad?” I crossed my arms, which immediately reminded me of my mother’s usual stance when she was disappointed in me. Not wanting to throw negativity into the moment, I then quickly dropped my arms to my hips. Then I thought, this is Claudia’s, my older sister’s, usual position and she’s bossy. “Is this an experiment?” I ask, now from a sitting position, both hands on my lap.

“We’re making Moon Water,” he answered pulling out a pen and paper. “Write something on the paper, something you need an answer to or maybe a wish,” he said pushing the writing materials toward me.

I think about what I want or what I’d like answered. I want to go to my friend’s sleepover next week, but I’ll probably go to that. I want to know why our dog, Sasha’s puppies look like the neighbor’s dog, but mom said she’ll explain that to me later. I keep thinking, then my desire is clear, I wish to be in Ms. Jackson’s class in the fall. I carefully write out my wish, fold the paper twice and pass it to my father.

“Tonight, is a full moon,” he says holding my wish, “Just before bedtime, we’ll put your words under the carafe. It’ll sit there while the water is harnessing energy from the moon, which will be transferred to your desires.” He placed the folded paper under the carafe. “In the morning, before sunrise, you must retrieve the paper and put it somewhere safe.”

“Will my answer appear on the paper?” I asked gullibly as if we were practicing witchcraft.

“No, this is not magic, but the answer to your wish or question will show itself. You just have to be patient and aware. Which means pay attention to everything around you, the powers of the moon will guide you to your answer,” we sat outside by the backdoor and gazed at the water filled carafe. It was on a small table that I never knew existed before. Then my father dropped several lemon quarters into the water and covered the carafe with a plastic sealed top.

“Are we going to drink the lemon water tomorrow?” my mouth was already watering in anticipation.

“Yes, we’ll have it with our breakfast. We’ll drink the moon’s energy and purify our souls,” he smiled with a wisdom I was in awe of and would forever be, well into my adulthood.

#  #  #

I could barely sleep that night. I stared up at the moon through my bedroom window. I forced myself to feel its powers. As I looked outside, high above the trees, I heard a rustling.

“Boo!” my older sister, Claudia, popped up from behind my bed.

“I almost peed myself,” I said angrily because I didn’t like to be scared. My hands were shaking, and I could feel my heart pounding under my nightgown.

“Are you praying to the moon? You know if the kids at school knew, they’d be right to call you loony,” she said laughing.

“That’s not funny!”

“Dad took you outside to make moon water, didn’t he?” she asked, but already knew the answer. I nodded my head. “He did that with me too when I was about your age. I think he waits until we’re about 8 years old because by then we don’t believe in Santa Claus anymore and he wants to give us something that’s special,” she confided in me with her own kind of wisdom.

“Does it work?” I asked. It was obvious in my young mind, even to me that I wanted to believe in something that required faith without explanation.

“Yes, it does work. You just have to believe,” she said seriously. “Do you believe?”

I couldn’t decide if she was making fun of me, “Yes, I do believe,” I felt like I was five years old again, when I would place my fallen tooth under my pillow and pray for it to be swapped out for a dollar bill.

“Then it will work,” she smiled and slipped out my bedroom door.

#  #  #

My dreams that night were combinations of walking on moon beams and drinking lemon water as I planted wishes in the garden. I felt a nudge interrupting the garden which was sprouting buds, “wake up Maggie,” I heard my father’s gentle voice whispering, “let’s go out before the sun rises”.

In my sleepiest voice, it almost sounded like someone else was answering, “okay, here I come”. I stumbled down the halls toward the stairs gaining balance with each step. I must have looked snockered as I left my room, but regained my sobriety as I reached the steps, thankfully.

I reached the back door, quickly stepped outside, that’s when I sobered up from the night’s slumber, I forgot my slippers! The cement’s roughness felt stony and rugged on my small feet. I looked down towards the path and in the moon’s light, could see the different bugs busily crawling across the bricks that lead up to the cement stairs. They’re moving about while the humans are sleeping. This is when they have freedom from large feet with heavy shoes who, without thinking, narrowly miss their tiny bodies as they forage for food and conduct their business. The pre-dawn has its own scent, not like the bustling, hurried days of people jogging, driving, moving around, getting to work, children walking to school and all the stress of the day. Right now, before the sun rises, there’s a freshness in the air, the impending birth of a new day. My young nostrils are able to take in the scent of eagerness for opportunities and chances for a better day than yesterday. Later in life, the time just before the sun rises will come to be my favorite part of the day, it will be where my creativity and peace will lie.

“Take this into the house,” my father hands me the carafe and instructs me to put my desires in a special place for only me to know about. I scurry through the kitchen, dropping off the carafe on the counter near the fridge and quickly pad with my cold feet towards the stairs which lead to my bedroom. In a bottom drawer of my bureau is a can that I decorated from an old coffee can. I used to keep pencils in, but stopped when my mom bought me a new desk. I look for a new home for the can since my drawer is not very secret. Then I remember a small hideaway in my closet, behind where my clothes hang. It looks like a small shelf. I never knew what it was, my mother said the house was old and it must have served a purpose at one time. Now it serves my purpose and holds my wishes and desires.

From that time on, on every full moon night, my father and I practiced our moon water tradition. It was our time to talk, share our secrets, laugh together. Until my sister left for college, she would usually join us. My little brother, Jack, joined our ritual when he turned eight. I helped him make a box to keep his wishes in, he found his own special place to keep it away from prying eyes.

#  #  #

“Those were some of my favorite nights,” Jack said referring to the nights we made moon water. We’re adults now. I have a small apartment in the city, not far from my parents. “What time will Claudia be here?” he asked as I stepped into the kitchen to check on the creamed chicken I’d prepared.

“Should be soon,” I said gleefully as I anticipated a wondrous Christmas Eve. This was a special holiday for me, since I had just moved out of my parents’ house and it was my first Christmas in my apartment. I felt like I’d finally grown up. “Mom and Dad are parking, I can see their car,” I yell to Jack excitedly. I really was happy to see them, it had been at least a month since we’d been in each other’s presence and not on a video call.

When we were all sitting at the dining room table, or the two card tables I’d pushed together. It did, however, look elegant with the tablecloth I’d found at an antique store, it was trimmed with embroidered holly along the edges and all the corners were scalloped. The simplicity of the tablecloth with its modest design made it humbly impressive. “I’m so glad we’re all here together,” I was feeling just a little nostalgic, like the end of an old movie where everything just seemed to fall into place.

My dad stands up and raises his glass, “to new traditions,” we all concur as we clink our glasses of wine, some of us with grape juice.

“Speaking of traditions,” I begin, thankful for the perfect opening, “tonight is a full moon and it’s quite rare, it hasn’t happened since 1977,” I say, hoping we’re all having the same thought.

“Do you have a carafe?” Jack smiles.

We, and for the first time my mother joins us, all write out our notes, fold them and lay them on the coffee table. Dad picks up the carafe and fills it with water; the carafe was another purchase at the same antique store where I’d found my tablecloth. “I’ll make sure to retrieve the notes before sunrise and, of course, store them away safely,” I say, thinking I should set my alarm. My father takes the carafe and notes and begins walking towards the door. “Should we go with you?” I ask my dad.

“No, it’s cold, you stay in here,” he walks out the door.

While Dad is outside, I look at my mother and ask, “Mom, you never joined us before. I always wondered why? But I guess I just attributed it to the fact that you weren’t a Lune by blood?” Why had I never asked before?

My mother sat on the large armchair I had by the door. Her elbow on the arm while her chin rested on the palm of her hand, she smiled, “why do you think Dad started this tradition?” she asked while her chin still rested on her palm.

“It was to spend time with us,” Claudia quickly answered.

“No, it was to give us hope, something to believe in, I think. I know when we started making moon water was when I was having a hard time on my baseball team. It somehow gave me confidence and helped me in other areas of my life too,” Jack said as he looked up through the window at the moon. “Many nights, when I felt alone, I looked up and knew I wasn’t by myself. I remembered all the nights making moon water.”

“I thought it was because of our last name, Lune. The kids at school used to call me loony and making moon water somehow made me feel that our name was special,” I chimed in thinking that was the real reason.

“You are all right,” Mom said, now her arms were loosely crossed on her belly. “He did it for different reasons. Claudia, being the oldest, you often felt taken for granted, Dad gave you one-on-one time with him; Jack, you needed self-confidence, making the moon water symbolized the strength you needed, it gave you faith; and Maggie, you weren’t happy with your name, we wanted you to know how extraordinary it is and what it meant to be a Lune.”

We all sat in silence, reflecting on my mother’s words. I suppose we all got what we needed out of our Moon Water tradition.

“It’s all ready for you outside. I put extra water, since we added Mom’s note,” Dad said to all of us. He had a knowing eye, as he glanced at all of us. It was as if he knew something had transpired since he’d been outside. “Should we get going Hon?” my dad said as picked up his coat.

We all said our goodbyes and promised to be on time for Christmas dinner. I walked my family to the door and gave a special big hug to my dad, “Thank you Dad, for the Moon Water nights.”

After the door closed, I watched through the window as my parents walked to their car. My dad, as always, opened the door for my mom. This small gesture always tugged at me as a true sign of love.

#  # #

“I heard it all,” he said to his wife as they settled in the car.

“Do you think they bought it?” she asked turning on the heater.

“They’ll never know that the reason I started the Moon Water nights was to find out what they were thinking and what they wanted. How else could we help them, but by reading their words and guiding them to find the answers,” they both smiled, he then took his wife’s hand and gently squeezed it.

June 18, 2021 19:14

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