Bad Moon – short story #fantasy
Standing waiting for the kettle to boil, Astral looks around an empty room; it was Christmas and the house, empty, just her and her quite longing for more in her life. Sipping a mug of coffee, she went out to find the one-foot high tree that sat decorated on the coffee table, it too, empty, baring no gifts this year. ‘They could have at least left me a card.’ She grumbled into her coffee. Santa never came anymore for her, not for many years, although she couldn’t complain, as there had been a T-shirts once and various insignificant trinkets given over the years. A watch on her fifteenth was her last memory of anything worth remembering.
Astral’s family go away over the festive period. Stay in five star hotels and eat Christmas lunch in their classy restaurants. Sometimes Astral could rake up the cash to go too, but mostly, like this year her cash flow was in serious trouble so it was only one star service for her today. Maybe some fish and chips in the park would have to do.
‘Hi Suzie, I’ll pick you up in five.’
Suzie was Astral’s newest friend. Well her mothers friend, but Astral had some how ended up caught up in this stranger’s world. She had a daughter and was an exotic dancer, so the only connection either of them had was that Suzie read tarot cards and Astral read Tea Leaves.
‘Thanks Astral,’ she replies, ‘just getting little Janie dressed now. Look forward to getting out the house for a while.’
Astral hung up and headed for the door, her imagination giving her a start as the surroundings she was in shimmered out of existence and she stood at the door of a magnificent castle. Her eyes swept the room of elegance and opulence. ‘Ohmygod,’ she slaps hand to mouth.
A child sprung out from nowhere and wrapped his chubby little arms around her. ‘Don’t go Aunty Asta you haven’t seen what Santa brought us yet.’ Astral had no idea who the child was but the face was familiar, had family features, her eyes.
Dragging her back into the massive sitting room, it was full of people, smiling faces that had no names yet there was something about them that made her relax, want to be there. A sweet elderly woman took her hand and sat Astral next to her while the chubby armed child ran to the tree, jumping into what she guessed was his father’s arms. ‘Come here Luke.’ He chuckled, knew you would melt her moody heart.’
Astral figured he referred to her, but shock had locked up her voice and made her tongue incapable of movement. ‘Where am I?’ She whispered to the sweet woman that sat next to her.
‘Don’t be silly honey, your home with us, your new family. The one’s that gave you what you said you always dreamed of, so why you keep trying to run away, we have no idea. Stay! and at least enjoy Christmas sweetheart.’
As Astral opened up a boxed gift, she looked out through the huge glass doors at a full moon that suddenly shone brightly, moving from behind cloud cover, the family becoming translucent as the light hit their bodies. The child and adults she had been enjoying almost disappearing, the setting as well. Now she sat alone, back in her apartment with an empty old box resting on her lap. She shook her head, squinted her eyes and closed them a couple of times to get back to lovely time she had just been having. Not achieving any results, she stood up angry. ‘Bad moon rising, get back behind the bloody clouds and give me back my new family.’
A phone ringing finally had Astral jump to her feet. ‘Hi Astral, its Suzie, are we still on for today. I’m just going to dress Janie and I’ll be right over to pick you up.’
‘Hay – what – um – sorry.’
‘Remember we planned fish and chips in the park, did you forget.’
‘No…gees I must have dozed off. I’ll come get you. I’m ready, see you soon.’ Astral now wanted to get out of her apartment before she fully went insane. She was sure she’d been awake the whole time, yet, where had the moon come from if it was almost lunchtime. Man she’d have to stop taking that sleep rescue remedy.
At the door, she glanced back to the strangeness again. ‘Astral honey, you can’t go yet, where just dishing up lunch.’ Astral felt drawn back into the room, an arm wrapped around her, seating her at a magnificent long table with old style candle holders, elaborate china wear and laden with food. A napkin place in her lap made her smile as a family of sixteen passed around platters of delicious delicacies, mouth-watering festive meats and vegetables of many varieties. Tucking into the hot foods and sipping on French champagne, Astral intended to enjoy every second of this adventure before it disappeared again from her sight. Laughter and joy rang through the massive dining room as a family she loved to be with, entertained and loved her in return.
The meal over, they all stood around a piano and sung Christmas songs, Astral taking her lungs out for a test drive as she hit the high notes, never believing she could make such a sweet sound, her eyes drenched with tears she was so happy. Wiping her eyes and snuffling into a hunky, she looked up as before, the moon had lighten up the room and all was silent, still, the family gone. Only she remained, holding an old tea towel in her hand, the delicately hand embroidered hanky she had been given, vanished.
A knock on the door pulled her out of her stunned silence, ‘Are you there Astral, it’s Suzie.’
Astral opened the door, her tear stained face pulled into a half smile. ‘I knew you’d be just sitting here crying on your own. Get your bag were going out, my shout. Fish and chips in the park, how does that sound.’
‘Sorry Suzie, I’ve just eaten and couldn’t fit another thing in. I’m fine really, just have a terrible cold so am going back to bed. I’ll catch up with you later.’ She closed the door and placed her back to it with her eyes closed. Had she not talked to Suzie on the phone at all. It was all so strange yet …
When Astral opened her eyes she was back in the castle, back with her new family, back where the bad moon would rise and fall, but where she would stay happy, always.
© Bad Moon by Debbie Behan 2012