by Foster Trecost
I once read a book of warnings. I can’t remember the title, but it suggested cautions that should lead to a more leveled life, so I called it The Book of Warnings.
Our last night together was just like the first. We drove down the same road we’d come to know so well, a road we called Moon View Mountain Road. “Beautiful as ever,” I said, but I spoke of the view, not of her [Do not lose beauty in everydayness, for to be surrounded by unnoticed beauty is to live in its absence]. She didn’t respond, and I would have been surprised if she had.
We had found the road by accident. I’d been invited to a party, a Mountain Gala it was called. I could have taken anyone, but I chose someone I barely knew [Do not bring first dates to parties, for they deserve your full attention]. Since we didn’t really know each other, we didn’t know what to say, and we drove up the mountain in an uncomfortable silence. It was dark and the road unmarked, which made following directions difficult [Do not travel without a map, for it is better to lose yourself in those things you enjoy]. One wrong turn lead to another and we were lost long before we knew it. My embarrassment was worsened by her frustration, which seemed worsened by my embarrassment. When hope seemed just as lost as we were, the trees thinned to reveal a full moon rising from beyond the spruce. We each broke the silence with a gasp, and then let it return, but it was no longer uncomfortable.
We never made it to the Gala, and I was never invited to another [Do not break your commitments, for those expecting you may not be the next time], but to Moon View Mountain Road we returned many times. That was many moons ago.
I said again: “Beautiful as ever.” The thin mountain air allowed for an even brighter luminance. As a child I thought the mountain moon was brighter because we were closer to it. I miss the innocence of those days [Do not grow up, for a child inside will keep you young on the outside]. I looked at her, moonlight pulling the tips of her fragile face from darkness. She did not smile. Her eyes were closed.
In better times we would drive Moon View Mountain Road, but not lately. She had become bored with me, but found it easier to say she had become bored with the moon. We stopped talking [Do not speak with your silence, for it will say things unintended]. We stopped everything. Earlier that day, I pleaded for her return and suggested we take a drive. “The moon can’t save us now,” she said.
“But it can,” I pleaded. “It can show us who we used to be,” but we both knew the moonlight would reveal nothing more than a man she used to love. “Would you rather he took you?” [Do not ask questions unless you are prepared for the answers, for the truth often hurts].
“Yes,” she said.
I had woken to a hopeful day. In the morning I planted rose vines along the back trellis, weaving them through the diamond-shaped pattern. I then repaired a loose shingle near the chimney, wanting it fixed before the spring rains. After lunch, I busied myself with yard work.
“Yes,” she said.
“We’re almost there,” I said, but I wasn’t in a hurry. Neither was she [Do not kill people, for to end another life is to end part of your own]. I pulled to the side of the road and turned off the engine. I carried her body to the edge of a clearing with no trees to hide the moon. I looked at the moon that would forever rise above her. “You’re right,” I said. “It can’t save us now.”
I covered her and waited for remorse [Do not have regrets, for to live with lament is not to live]. She’s only bones by now, and I’m still waiting.
Foster Trecost writes stories that are mostly made up. They tend to follow his attention span: sometimes short, sometimes very short. Recent work has appeared in New World Writing, Star 82 Review, and Speak Fiction. He lives in New Orleans with his wife and dog.