Friday, September 11, 2009

Aftershocks of the full moon

(See blog post March 10, 2008 “Moon Story”)

When the sun came up, Betsy put out the small campfire, scuffled out her tracks, and made her way down the crumbly narrow trail that led down off the mesa. She threw her canteen and empty satchel onto the passenger seat of her rusty '72 Ford pickup and climbed in behind the wheel. The drive out back to the road was slow and rough. Several times her forearms brushed the steering wheel causing renewed stinging sensations. She swore softly.

The road, a pot-holed gravel ribbon that led back to the house, was particularly dusty this morning. Grit filled Betsy's nose and she could feel it on her teeth. It hadn't rained in several months. The farm's well was low and her garden was barely hanging on. The chickens were even panting in the heat.

Grandmother's voice spoke again in her head, repeating the old stories. It was over five years since she died, but recently the stories became louder and more urgent.  The words Betsy chanted in the moon light were unknown to her yet they had come easily from her lips. It hadn't been Betsy's voice that spoke last night, but her Grandmother's. What seemed natural then now made her feel creeped out.  She hoped last night's ceremony would put Grandmother's spirit at rest. Time would tell.

A cloud of dust enveloped the truck when she stopped in front of her barn and hung in the air like a brown fog.  Her cat sat on an up-turned bucket and stared at her. The chickens huddled motionless in the shade. Betsy climbed out of the truck and stood still. It was quiet. Silent. Not even an insect buzzed. She looked up at the sky. It was a dead blue and the sun seemed bigger and menacing. Sweat dripped down her throat and pooled under her breasts. Her mouth went dry.

Betsy closed her eyes, shook her head and then waved her arms at the scene. "Stop it! Just stop it! This is getting ridiculous!" She stomped her foot and said, "I am going in the house to get a drink of water. When I come out again, things had better be back to normal because my fuse is really short. Do you hear me?'  She paused. "I said, DO YOU HEAR ME?"

It was as if the world winked. An almost imperceptible blink. A slight breeze ruffled the feathers of the brown hen. The cat jumped down, stretched and padded off into the barn. On the distant horizon a small but heavy white cloud began to grow.