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The Risen Moonlight, Chapter 1
Rocking Max back and forth on her lap, Ali wondered where his father was. That’s not to say she missed him. No way! That would mean she actually liked him. Which she didn’t. She wasn’t sure why she had even dated him.
Jackie, Ali’s mother, sighed, walking over to Ali. She settled on the seat on the porch that was opposite Ali’s seat. Jackie had had Ali when she was eighteen and engaged. However, Steve had left not two months after she had told him she was having a baby.
Jackie sat up. “There are leftovers in the fridge.”
“Great.” Ali had given up trying to communicate with her mother for quite a few months. Max raised his tiny little hands up in the air. Ali tickled his little tummy before getting up. “I should probably feed him.”
“Yeah.” Her mother didn’t bother getting up. She was staring at the ocean.
Ali took a deep breath. She opened the back door, still thinking about Max’s father. Sometimes her mind even wandered to the subject of her own father.
Ali put Max into his booster seat before getting a bottle and filling it with milk. She heated it in the microwave and picked up Max. She took Max and the warm bottle back on the porch.
She settled back on the chair she’d been sitting on all night. Ali knew her mother thought Max was all her fault. She knew her mother blamed herself. Ali cuddled Max in her arms and gave him his bottle.
“You could help me once in a while.” Ali knew her words were harsh, but she also knew they had to be said.
Her mother stiffened. “You could have waited to have a baby.”
Ali bit her lip. “I had such a great example.”
“So I made a mistake,” Jackie said, “I never said I was perfect. You go around like you’re Miss. Perfect. It’s like you expect people to help you.”
“Another glorious conversation with my glorious mother,” Ali said sarcastically. She held Max tighter before getting his stroller and strapping him in. “Going for a walk.”
“Awesome.” Her mom leaned back in the beach chair.
Ali looked at the ocean. She missed the times when this wasn’t how things were between her and her mother. Believe it or not, there was a time when Jackie and Ali were close.
Ali pushed Max around the block twice before she decided to sit on the beach. She pushed the stroller onto the sand and put on the brakes. She stood there, just staring at Max, who was sleeping soundly.
It was so quiet that when someone spoke, she jumped.
“You do this often?” someone asked from behind her.
Ali jumped. She turned around quickly. “Wh-whose there?”
“Whoa!” someone from behind her said. “Chill,” he put his hands up.
“Jeez.” Ali sighed, relieved. “You scared me.”
He smiled. “No kidding.”
“Well,” Ali said, defending herself, “usually I don’t see anyone when I’m walking this late at night.”
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I can leave.”
“Nah,” Ali said. “You can stay. I’m lonely, anyway.”
“Then we can be lonely together.” He smiled at Ali.
“What’s your name?” Ali asked.
“Ben. Ben Anderson.”
Ali smiled. “I’m Ali. Ali Mitchell.”
“And this is?” Ben asked, motioning toward Max’s carriage.
“Max.” Ali considered telling him that Max was her son, but resorted to telling a white lie. After all, Ali thought, it’s not like she would ever see this guy again. “He’s my baby brother.”
“How old is he?” Ben asked.
“Three months.” Ali bit her lip, regretting lying. Even if it was to some weirdo she may never see again.
“Where do you go to school?” Ben looked away. “I … I mean you don’t have to tell me. This … this isn’t, like, an interrogation or anything.”
Ali smiled. “I know this isn’t an interrogation.” Ali kicked the sand. “I'm homeschooled.”
“That’s cool.” Ali thought Ben’s comment actually seemed genuine, but she knew better than to judge people before you really got to know them. “Is it … is it better than public school?”
Ali shrugged. “It’s school.”
Ben smiled. He faced her.
Ali took a deep breath. Her heart was racing through her chest.
Ben took a strand of Ali’s hair and moved it behind her ear.
At that precise moment, Max decides he wants to get out of the stroller.
Are you kidding? Ali wants to scream. Seriously?
Ben smiles sympathetically. Ali bites her lip.
“Sorry,” Ali says. She can’t believe how much she actually wanted him to kiss her. She picks up Max, patting him up on the back.
Ali struggles to hold Max and push the stroller on the sand.
“Let me help you.” Ben gently takes control of the stroller.
He’s so nice, Ali thinks, regretting the little white lie.
Ali walks ahead, gently rocking Max, leading Ben back to her house.
He parks the stroller in the garage, as per request of Ali. Her mother isn’t on the back deck, and her bedroom light is off.
“Is your mom home?” Ben asks.
Ali nods. “She’s probably sleeping though.”
“How about your dad?” Ben asks.
Ali stares at the ocean. “Bailed.”
Ben looks at Ali. “Sorry.”
Ali shrugs, she’s had to explain it to tons of people. “It’s life.”
Ben looks at Ali.
Out of nowhere, Ben leans in and kisses Ali on the cheek. She can’t help but smile.
“I’ll see you around?” Ben asks.
“Definitely,” Ali says, meaning it entirely.