Lunacy






Rebecca knew the moon had stolen her daughter.


Two days before Christmas Eve. Rebecca picked up Molli from her dorm room for the holiday break. The roads were snow-covered and slippery, and oncoming headlights combined with strong winds made the long journey down the highway difficult. Molli sat in the front seat, seemingly oblivious to the road conditions, happily chatting about her classes and friends. Rebecca rolled down her window a crack to see if the windows would defog.


“Oh! You’ve got to see this!” Molli unbuckled her seatbelt and turned her entire body toward the back seat, trying to reach her duffle bag.


“Molli, please, can’t it wait?” Rebecca struggled to keep the car on the road.


A strong gust of wind blew the moonlight into the car. Rebecca swerved to avoid another vehicle that was drifting into her lane. She lost control of the car. The crunch of glass and metal filled the icy air. Rebecca saw the moonlight envelop her daughter.


There was no doubt – the moon had stolen Molli.



*



Molli’s funeral was two days after Christmas. As Rebecca and her husband, John, watched the casket being lowered into the frozen ground, Molli’s life flashed through her mind. The two of them baking cookies on cold winter afternoons when Molli was a toddler, flour covering her face and hands, licking a chocolate-frosted spoon with the biggest grin. Molli running into the house, crying, after her first day of kindergarten because she missed her mommy. John squeezed her hand and the memories vanished.


“I can’t do this.” Rebecca whispered to John as her eyes darted around the cemetery, searching for a way out.


John didn’t reply.


Unable to find an escape route, Rebecca’s eyes focused on Molli’s casket, the top now disappearing below ground. I’m not ready. She’s not ready. Rebecca’s thoughts screamed.


She felt unable to breathe. Her daughter wasn’t dead, and she wouldn’t be able to breathe underground.


“Stop this!” Rebecca hissed to John as the gravedigger began shoveling dirt into the grave.


John remained motionless.


“Didn’t you hear me?” Tears of desperation blurred Rebecca’s vision and she shook John’s hand as if to wake him.


“I heard you.” John finally said.


“Why aren’t you doing anything?” Rebecca’s desperation was quickly giving way to hysteria. “She’s not dead!” She screamed aloud.


The ritual stopped; everyone attending stared.


“I’m so sorry.” John addressed the crowd as he stood, attempting to make Rebecca stand with him.


She did stand and allowed herself to be ushered away from the ceremony, but not before she cried, “The moon has her! She’s not dead!”


*


The looks of concern and pity after her outburst at the funeral were not as painful as being alone in bed, the moon staring at her through the window. Rebecca stared back at it while she listened to John explain to someone that she was okay, just having a hard time accepting that Molli’s gone.


John entered the room and found Rebecca lying on her side, staring through the uncurtained window. “It’s stuffy in here.” He said as he crossed the room and opened the window a crack.


A soft breeze blew the moonlight into the room and Rebecca could feel it wrapping itself around her. She shivered.


“Dinner’s ready.” John offered.


Rebecca didn’t reply.


John sighed and left the room.


Rebecca lay stiffly on the bed, the moonlight making her eyes water. She couldn’t watch it anymore. Rebecca rolled onto her back and stared at the ceiling.


Shadows began to creep along the wood floor and up the wall to the ceiling. Rebecca watched, unmoving, as the shadows entered her field of vision and began to take shape in front of her eyes. The shapes molded themselves into the events of the accident. Shadows, blacker than black, played the scene on the ceiling like a silent film. The object that stood out the most – the moon.


The scene depicted the car crash; not what actually happened, but what Rebecca was sure of in her heart. The shadows the moon cast failed to depict the moon’s role. It was trying to convince her otherwise.


Tears in her eyes, Rebecca angrily flipped onto her side and stared at the moon again. “Give her back.” She repeated over and over like a mantra until her eyes finally closed.



*



“Mom?”


Rebecca opened her eyes.


The room was flooded with blinding silver light. Rebecca felt like a block of ice. She knew it was the moon.


“Mom?”


Rebecca forced her eyes to adjust to the intense light and saw a slim silhouette standing in front of the window. She instinctively knew it was Molli. “Baby? You’re back!”


Molli shook her head. “I have to go. Just wanted to say hi.”


“No.” Rebecca was firm, getting out of bed to move closer to her daughter, but making no progress.


Molli turned toward the window.


“Don’t move!” Desperation crept into Rebecca’s voice.


Molli put her hand on the window sill as if preparing to climb out.


The desperation that had been building in Rebecca took over. “Me!” She screamed, pounding on her chest. “Let me go instead.”


Molli glanced over her shoulder at her mother but didn’t move.


“Please!” Rebecca fell to her knees, clutching her chest.


Wind from the open window whipped into the room. The intense silver light seemed to grow brighter until Rebecca couldn’t see anything at all.


*


The next morning, John woke to find Rebecca wasn’t breathing. The ambulance arrived in minutes. Apparent heart attack. Rebecca died in her sleep.



The first thing John did was pick up the phone and dial Molli’s dorm room to tell her the news.




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