Under the Moonlight (excerpt)
Claire was in the bathroom when she heard the knock on her door. Taking a quick glance at the clock—a quarter after seven—she took her towel with her as she walked to the door, gently drying her hair along the way. She made a cautious look through the peephole to see Nick standing outside her door, so she smiled and opened the door to welcome him in.
“Hey, Nick, what are you doing here? Come on in.” She stepped to the side to let him in, and he greeted her back with a smile as she closed to door and locked it.
“Hey, Claire, sorry to come over unannounced, I just thought,” he looked over to the sliding glass door on the other end of the room that led out to Claire’s balcony, “that tonight was a really beautiful night,” he turned his attention back to her, “and I thought it’d be nice to share it with a friend, you know?” He pressed his lips together in a nervous smile as he watched Claire continue to pat her hair with the towel in her hand.
“I know what you mean.” Claire looked over to the balcony door as well, making note of the bright full moon in the sky. “What about Jason though? You know, your roommate?” She turned back to Nick and laughed.
“I spend every night with him.” Nick defended with a laugh. “I’d like to spend some nights with you and other friends.”
“Yeah, I know.” Claire smiled and dropped her arms, finished manually drying her hair. “I’m going to go put this towel back in the bathroom and brush my hair, and then I’ll be right back. You had perfect timing with your knock—I had just gotten out of the shower.” Claire stepped around Nick and proceeded to the bathroom, and Nick watched after her as she walked away. As the bathroom door closed, he pressed his lips together and closed his eyes for a moment as he took in a deep breath and let it out through the mouth, opening his eyes as he did so. He turned back toward the balcony door and walked over to it, walking carefully down the set of three steps that separate the balcony doors from the rest of the large living room and kitchen, and placing a hand against the door and leaning easily against it.
Today. You have to tell her today. If he’d told himself this once, he’d told himself a thousand times. No matter how many times he stubbornly decided to tell Claire the truth, as soon as he saw her, his courage abandoned him. He would even often tell Jason about his resolution to do so in hopes that having told someone else that he would, it would make him do it, but it never sufficed—when the time came, he could never find the words or the courage to say something.
Nick’s thoughts wandered back to earlier this evening—only maybe an hour earlier—when he first looked out the window in his shared apartment with Jason to see the full moon up in the sky.
“I’m going to do it.” he said, his eyes fixed on the moon.
“Huh?” Jason asked, looking up from his phone at the couch.
Nick turned around to face Jason. “I’m going to do it. I have to do it. I mean, look outside. It’s a beautiful night, there’s a full moon above us—it’s the perfect night to tell her!”
“Oh, so you’re talking about telling Claire again. Yeah, I’m sure you’re going to.” Jason raised his eyebrow and smirked in the way he always did after saying something sarcastic.
“I mean it this time, Jason.” Nick was unbothered by the sarcastic remark, instead rushing over to the couch and sitting down beside Jason. “I really want to tell her, and I seriously intend to do so. I’m going to go over to her apartment right now, and I’m going to do it.”
Jason sat up from his reclined position. “Right now? You’re going to drive down there, knock on the door, and when she answers, you’re going to immediately confess everything right on her doorstep?”
A nervous chill went down Nick’s spine just as Jason said it, and his courage already felt as though it was wavering. “Well, maybe not instantly upon her opening the door…”
“You’re not going to do it.” Jason leaned back again, resting against the arm of the couch.
“No, I will! I’m going right now!” Nick jumped up from his seat on the couch and went over to the kitchen counter to grab his keys and wallet. He hastily scanned the room, furrowing his eyebrows as he did so. “What all do I need to go make a confession?” Nick turned his head to face Jason, pressing his lips together with his eyebrows raised.
“You’ll probably need a bottle of water to combat the dry mouth you’re gonna have.” Jason suggested, one eyebrow raised.
Nick nodded his head despite the tension in his neck that wanted him to freeze. He pulled open the fridge and grabbed a bottle of cold water, pressing it against his forehead to cool the warmth already building up in his face.
“You already look like a nervous wreck.” Jason burst into laughter and clapped his hands together as he did so.
Now, standing in Claire’s living room and looking out at the full moon that had seemed to give him so much courage earlier, he found that that very courage has already slipped from his grasp. He could feel the back of his throat getting dry, but he drank the whole bottle of water on his way here and in the car as his built up enough courage to walk up the stairs to Claire’s door.
#romance #love #confession
In the dark, I stare at my phone, scrolling through colorful photos of happy people. My expression is blank as the smiles pass by, each one seemingly brighter in succession, giving me a headache. My arm slips into my lap, and I let my eyes drift away from the screen, expressionless, staring into the darkness. The house is quiet but for the sound of the rain pounding against the rooftop. It's almost lonelier that way than if it were just silent. I take a deep breath, feeling the air enter my lungs as my chest swells, then release in a puff before sitting up in bed. As my eyes adjust to the dark, I scan the space around me, my focus landing on the empty cat bed in the corner sitting by the clean litterbox. If I try really hard, I can almost smell the cat shit that isn't there.
I lift my arm, unlocking my phone and opening the camera. I switch the flash on and snap a photo of the corner of the room. I look at the photo—nothing more than a blurry mess. I can just barely make out the bed and litterbox, and, even then, it's likely due to the fact that I know they're there.
I let out an “ugh” as I fall back onto my bed, staring at the ceiling. I feel my breath all the way down in my stomach as I listen to the rain. The wind howls, and the thunder rumbles, accompanying the steady rainfall.
In a low, grumbly voice, I sing to myself, “Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day.” I squeeze my eyes shut for a moment, furrowing my eyebrows together and sitting up. My eyes open right as lightning strikes outside, illuminating the room for just a moment, and I can see everything.
I stand up, putting a hand to my aching head, feeling warmth. I really hope I don’t have a fever. I shake the thought away as I slip my phone into my pocket. I take a deep breath and walk over to the door. The creak of the doorknob and the door opening resounds in my head, adding to my pain. I do my best to ignore it as I step into the hall, closing the door behind me. It’s brighter in the hallway—the wide windows to the balcony uncovered by the curtains that are pulled to the sides make sure of that. Though the space isn’t that much brighter from the outside light (how little of it there is), it is a noticeable difference from my room where I have the windows covered by plain black curtains that almost entirely seal out the light from the outdoors.
I turn away from the windows and pace to the doorway leading to the common area, peeking my head in to see nothing in particular. All that’s in there is furniture. My eyes land on an old scratching post.
I thought Cass would’ve gotten all of the cat’s stuff out of here by now. Surprised she forgot to get that. I make a mental note of it still being there as I turn away from the common room, looking toward the stairs. I make my way to them, noting how much darker it looks on the first floor than it does up here. Nevertheless, I descend the stairs sluggishly, each thump of my feet against the steps clear in my head. The entrance hall is much darker than the upstairs hallway, likely due to the decorative curtains Cass is so proud of hanging in the windows here. “They’re just so darn cute!” Cass had said when she was hanging them. “I don’t think I’ll ever want to open the curtains in this room again!”
I shift away from the curtains, dragging myself into the living room. This area is a tiny bit brighter than the entrance room, as the curtains here were left open. I don’t inspect it for long, instead walking straight to the door to Cass’s bedroom and opening it, recoiling back at the light that hits my eyes. Squinting, I peer into her room.
Dammit, Cass, you left your light on again? I shake my head and walk into her room, adjusting to the light. I scan the space, seeing her curtains left partially open, letting even more light in. Cass has string lights with little photos clipped on them hung all across the room—the perfect Instagram aesthetic. I look a little closer at some of the photos, seeing some of us together, some of her with her boyfriend, some of her with her other friends, and some of the cat. I stare at the picture of the cat for a moment, frowning, then pull my gaze away, opting to instead focus my attention toward Cass’s bedside table. I notice on it the picture book she’d recently had made. On the front, there’s a picture of the cat, the words “In Loving Memory of Sir Nibbly Nops III” above it. Even though I have one just like it in my room upstairs, I can’t help but get caught up in studying the little book. I flip through some of the pages, seeing all the silly pictures we’d accumulated of this cat over the years, noting the little doodles and jottings Cass had scribbled in the margins. One in particular captures my attention: a picture of the curtains in the entrance hall with a tail poking out from beneath them—an unsuccessful attempt of Sir Nibbly Nops III to hide. I squinted my eyes at the note Cass made in the margin, deciphering it as “That cat loved those curtains almost as much as I do!” I twist my head away, squeeze my eyes shut, and suck in a deep breath. I close the book before reopening my eyes, jerking away right as the soft thud sounds.
Rubbing my temples, I head into Cass’s bathroom, going straight for the medicine cabinet. I quickly spot the headache medicine she has—I knew it’d be there, that girl gets headaches nearly once a week—and I pour a couple pills into my hand. I close the medicine cabinet, keeping the pill bottle with me, and leave the bathroom. I pause for a moment at Cass’s doorway and switch off the main light, but I leave her little string lights on. I take a moment to look at them—almost like little stars shining across Cass’s walls—before I close the door behind me.
I pass through the living room, through the entrance hall, and into the dining room. It’s rather dark, so I take each step with caution and feel around with my hands to avoid ramming a toe into a chair. Somewhere along the way, I drop the pill bottle onto the dining room table. When I get into the kitchen, I switch on the light just above the stove—though I wish it were enough, the tiny amount of light pouring in from the little window above the sink doesn’t help me see what I’m doing in here. I open the fridge and grab a bottle of water, taking a drink of it before popping the pills into my mouth and swallowing them. I close the fridge and turn to the dining room, finding a chair to sit down in. As much as I wish the medicine would work instantly, it doesn’t. The pain in my head persists, constant with the sound of the rain and booming with the thunder.
I feel my phone vibrating in my pocket, and I grab it to look. Just another notification of someone doing something on social media. I shake my head and set my phone screen-down on the table, taking another drink of water. The directions on the bottle of headache medicine say to drink a whole glass of water with each dose—a memory of Cass sitting at this table in misery after having just downed a glass of water flashes through my mind. One moment she sat there in pain, and the next she was dashing into the hallway headed to the bathroom, the water seeming to have gone straight through her. When she came back, I was laughing, and she looked both relieved and exhausted at the same time. Sir Nibbly Nops III stood on the table meowing and batting his front paws at her.
The memory goes as quickly as it had come, and I lay my head against the table for a moment as the sound of meowing echoed in my mind, in tune with the banging of my headache. I pull myself back up after a moment to take another drink of water, finding that the bottle is empty. I let the bottle slip out of my hand, landing on the table—the thud resounding in my head—and I stand up. I place a hand against my head, squeezing my eyes shut as the pain in my head crescendos. I keep my hand there as I make my way into the kitchen, opening the door to the fridge and pulling out a bottle of vodka. I pop open the top and take a drink straight from the bottle—not bothering to pour it into a glass since Cass hates the stuff—and feel the citrusy-tasting liquid coat my throat as I swallow. I keep a little swig of it in my mouth for a moment, tasting it, before swallowing. I recall the first time Cass tried it, describing it as “watered down nail polish remover” before spitting it out into the sink. She never drank any more of it after that.
I make my way back over to the table, slouching in the chair as I take another drink. I plop the bottle on the table, a limp grip of my hand lingering around it as I fix my focus into no particular point the distance. The pain in my head fluctuates. My thoughts are scattered. I see Cass’s face when she came home with those curtains. I see Sir Nibbly Nops III taking a shit right beside the litterbox after Cass got mad at him for scratching up the curtains. “That damn cat!” “They’re just so darn cute!” “I work hard, so I should have something nice to show for it!”
I drink the thoughts away. Every thought makes the pounding in my head worse, and I squeeze my eyes shut to keep the pain away. The curtains in the dining room let little bits of light through, and, though it’s not much light, it seems to cut straight through me, only adding to the throbbing in my head. I drink. The picture of the curtains is clear in my mind. I drink. The thunder sounds. I drink. The curtains are closed. I drink. My head booms. I drink. My phone buzzes. I drink. Memories rush through my mind.
“Calm down!” I’m standing up, and I hear a crash like glass breaking. There’s vodka on the wall and bits of a broken bottle on the floor. My vision is blurry, shaking with the constant vibrations in my head. The thunder rumbles, seemingly shaking the whole house. I drop back into the chair, laying my head back against the table. My mind is like a malfunctioning computer that for some reason keeps typing the same word over and over again. Curtains curtains curtains. My eyes squeeze shut. Curtains curtains curtains. They wrap around me like a blanket. Curtains curtains curtains. The pounding in my head lulls me to sleep.
I see myself, my head against the table, my hand loose around the bottle, my breath moving in and out to the beat of the rain. My mind is clear, and so is my vision. I reach toward my sleeping body, but something seems to hold me back. I feel some unseen force spin me around, and I catch myself in the mirror. My expression is blank. I inspect my reflection for a moment, trying to find the life in my eyes but finding nothing more than emptiness. I recoil away from the mirror, escaping the dining room, halted as soon as I step foot in the entrance hall. For a moment, my focus is fixed on the stairs, and my breath is steady. My breaths become gradually deeper, and the cracks in my mask come through as I twist to the left, my eyes finding a sharp focus on the curtains. My hands are shaking, and my breath is shaky as well. I press my lips together, biting the inside of my cheek. My brows furrow together as my eye twitches, and I squeeze my eyes shut for a moment, the sight of the curtains unwavering in my mind. Without hesitation, I turn, opening my eyes as I yank open the drawer to the little table in the corner, and I dig through the various items stored in there until I find and pull out a little box of matches, my eyes already fixated on the flames that aren’t even there yet. I swing around towards the curtains as I grab a match out of the box, quickly sliding it across the side and watching the flame flare to life. The smell of the fire fuels me, and I toss the match onto the curtains to the left of the front door, watching as they burst into light. I light another match without delay, tossing it onto the curtains to the right of the front door, watching as they go up in flames as well. The sound of the growing fire combats with the pounding of the rain, and I drop the matches as I burst through the front door, running down the steps that lead up to the porch and halting halfway down the yard. The rain against my skin is cold and heavy. I turn towards the house, watching as the flames grow brighter and brighter, fighting against the rain. Lightning strikes, and everything is clear for one startling second.
There. Down it goes. Everything I’ve known. The flames are stronger than the rain, and the ashes begin to fly through the air, seemingly imitating the rain. I close my eyes, feeling the wetness of the rain against my face as I slide down onto my knees. The ground is muddy, but I pay it no mind. The thunder booms above me and around me, but it doesn’t penetrate the walls of my mind. The light of the growing fire before me doesn’t even seem to pierce my closed eyelids. Inside, everything is calm and quiet and clear.
#running #challenge #loss #escapereality #depression #curtains #curtainscurtainscurtains
I am a fighter, and I fight for love.
But I know now that I've fought too much.
I've spent months fighting,
To make things work.
But things just aren't working.
I am a fighter, and I fight for love.
But I know when I've fought too much.
I know when a battle isn't worth fighting anymore.
I am a fighter, and I fight for love.
But I won't fight for this love anymore.
If I'd known things would end up this way, would I still do it?
Yes, I would.
The truth is, even though things are difficult and hurt, I still treasure every moment of it. Every moment spent with you was one worth remembering, and I will remember it forever.
Even if I'd known it would end like this, I'd still do it all over again.
I'd do it all over again.
Hands ripping straight through my chest, itching to find the shattered remains of a heart.
One more kiss.
Remember Your Perfection
Please listen closely. I promise I would
Reach across the skies to find something to
Something that could possibly measure up to the
Evening clouds in your eyes. If I could ever
Possess something quite as perfect as you,
Roses across the lands would
Open themselves up,
Showing off their unearthly beauty because if something
Even close to as
Perfect as your smile
Out of the
Earth, everything would brighten for you.
"You are so used to your own features that you don't know how beautiful you look to a stranger."
I don't know who originally said it, but I read it once and never forgot it.
Racism doesn't fix racism.
Stereotyping doesn't fix stereotyping.
Prejudice doesn't fix prejudice.
Hate doesn't fix hate.
Stop trying to fight fire with fire. Get a damn hose.
What Really is Love?
LOVE IS NOT WHAT WE’VE ALWAYS BEEN TAUGHT.
LOVE IS NOT AN EMOTION.
LOVE IS NOT THE BUTTERFLIES IN YOUR STOMACH.
IF YOU CLING TO THE IDEA THAT THE BUTTERFLIES
IN YOUR STOMACH ARE TELLING YOU THAT
YOU’RE IN LOVE, THEN
YOU ARE NEVER GOING TO HAVE A LASTING RELATIONSHIP
BECAUSE BUTTERFLIES DIE.
LOVE IS A CHOICE.
THE CHOICES YOU MAKE CAN LAST FOREVER.
BUT BUTTERFLIES IN YOUR STOMACH FADE AWAY AND DIE.
LOVE IS NOT NERVOUSNESS.
LOVE IS A CHOICE.
IT IS A CONSTANT CLINGING TO SOMEONE
BECAUSE YOU WANT TO,
NOT BECAUSE YOU FEEL YOU NEED TO.
LOVE IS NOT SEEING PERFECTION IN SOMEONE’S EYES.
LOVE IS SEEING THE LIGHT AND THE DARK AND
CHOOSING TO HELP LIGHT UP THE DIM PARTS.
LOVE IS NOT THAT ELECTRICITY YOU FEEL
WHEN YOU KISS SOMEONE.
LOVE IS CHOOSING ONE PERSON’S KISS OVER EVERYONE ELSE’S
REGARDLESS OF HOW IT MAKES YOU FEEL PHYSICALLY.
LOVE DOESN’T JUST GO AWAY.
PEOPLE CHOOSE TO STOP LOVING ONE ANOTHER
BECAUSE LOVE IS A CHOICE.
PEOPLE DON’T WAKE UP NO LONGER LOVING SOMEONE.
PEOPLE WAKE UP CHOOSING TO NO LONGER LOVE SOMEONE.
IT DOESN’T JUST HAPPEN.
IT’S A RESULT OF A CHOICE.
PEOPLE CHOOSE TO LOVE OR TO NOT LOVE
BECAUSE LOVE IS NOT AN EMOTION,
LOVE IS A CHOICE.
LOVE IS A CHOICE.