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The Man in the Moon
It was night, yet somehow it was almost as bright as day. A full moon hung in the sky, which was dotted with hundreds and hundreds of sparkling stars. Waves lapped the shore in a rhythmic and lulling pattern, as if calling one to them. The sand on the beach was cold and dark and fell though one’s toes like butter. A slow, lethargic wind edged lazily around the coast, dragging along as if it didn’t want to be there. The beach was empty. The crowds that had flocked there in the morning had all piled up into their minivans and headed to the next destination on their sightseeing list. After the day had passed, no residents of this small New England town ever walked on their famed beach. Especially at this time of night, when all the townsfolk were asleep or nearly asleep. Only one person was on the barren beach at this desolate hour.
She shouldn’t be here, and she knew it. What would her mother say if she knew that her daughter had left their bed and breakfast? But deep in her stomach, the girl didn’t care. She had to think. She had to get away. She had to go to the one place where she could be alone. And it was here that was her special place.
She walked close to the water’s edge, barefoot, so her feet could get wet. The water glowed slightly with the sparkles of bioluminescent algae and the reflections of the silver moon. Looking up at the sky, she smiled to herself while picking out a few constellations. They twinkled back at her, so constant and familiar. So unlike her life.
This was the place where she could think about the two most important people in her life. Her father had been her guardian, her solid rock in times of turmoil. Yet so ironically, in his time of turmoil, those last few nights of battling the ravenous cancer, she had not been with him like she should have been. She had never forgiven herself for that. Those few nights, she had been with the other important person, Kevin. Her best friend, her fireworks on a starry night, Kevin had needed her help those few nights. He was moving to New York, to be with his aunt and uncle after his parents died in an airplane accident. And it was then, on those few nights, where he told her that he loved her. She had felt euphoric but slightly hesitant. Her mother didn’t like Kevin, she knew that certainly. She wanted to go to college in the fall, with him. She had already been accepted on a full scholarship, but still her mother persisted that she stay. And she didn’t want to upset her mother.
She wandered near the pier, caressing the worn wood with her right hand. She took a deep breath and looked to the stars, trying to find her father.
“Daddy,” she whispered softly, as she sat down on the sand. “Daddy.” She glanced upwards toward the heavens. “I don’t what to do, Dad. I can’t spend my whole life in this little town. I want to do something with my life. I want to be someone.” But then she looked back towards the inland, where the Victorian styled bed and breakfast was. Where her only family was. “But I can’t leave Mom here. She’ll be devastated.” The girl felt a tear drip out of the corner of her eye. She instantly wiped it away and looked back up at the big moon. Perhaps it was just her imagination, but she could have sworn that the face on the moon winked at her. It must have been her mind playing tricks on her. She let her eyes wander a bit, but then stopped suddenly when she spotted something peculiar.
Crawling on all fours, she made her way to the piece of white paper waiting on the sand. It was a sheet of music that had been crumpled up and smoothed out. Handwritten, with lots of crossed out notes, she recognized it as her own, that she had written with her dad the year he had died. They wrote it on a summer evening, her on the piano, him on the guitar. She hadn’t looked at it since he passed away. In fact, she had locked up in the little drawer on her bureau, along with all the other things from her dad. How did it get out here?
“Reach for the moon, and you’ll land among stars. Reach for the Man in the Moon…” she sang softly, recalling all the chords and harmonies and melodies. An A minor chord, followed by a major lift…Reach for the Man in the Moon?
She looked up at the moon again and she knew what she had to do.
On a Greyhound bus, halfway across the state, she sat with a pen and piece of paper in her hand. The sun was rising on the horizon, with the promise of a new dawn, a new day. She held the letter out and read it.
By the time you get this letter, I’ll be at college, just like I was supposed to be. I know you wanted me home to be with you, but I have to do this. I can’t spend my whole life in Sea Brook. I know Dad wanted me to go out into the world and find my own place. I just can’t do that back home. I know you might hate me for this. You might never want to see my face again. But just know, Mom, that I love you with all my heart. And just know that this isn’t because I want to be with Kevin. I mean, some of it is, but the main part is my desire to get away and find myself. I’ll come back one day, when I know you’re not mad at me. But before that, I have to reach for the Man in the Moon.
I’ll love you forever.
With a backpack slung over her shoulder, wallet and ATM card in her pocket, a heart full of passion and head full of ideas, Madeline walked out the door of the bus and into a fresh, new start. She was ready for anything. She was ready to reach for the Man in the Moon.