Leak


She used up the bits left in the refrigerator; frozen peas, half a zucchini, an inch of white wine, a yellow tomato. There were five bottles of Shiner beer, something she wouldn't drink because she didn't like to drink alone. She scooped the last of the Smart Start margarine into an old skillet. She'd bought a cast-iron skillet, but her husband had taken it, and this one was worn Teflon.

"Mom, you know what you do when you stir like that."

"I'm simmering the vegetables."

"You shimmer it.  It's called you shimmer it, Mom."

The moon was pressing against the door, leaking slivers of light in through the cracks.  The house wasn't well insulated.

"It won't get in, don't worry," she told her son.

"How do you know?"

"I won't let it."

They ate eggs with the vegetables, and then put together a dinosaur puzzle.  Her son knew the names for each dinosaur, but she couldn't remember.  All the names had changed since she was a child.  Pterodactyl was a Pteranodon.

The sounds from the door were difficult to interpret.  Slurping, or was it a sob?

"What is it doing?"

"I don't know," she said.  "I don't think it is really the moon, honey.  It isn't big enough.  But I don't think it wants to hurt us.  It will go away by morning."

Liquid seeped through the door, and she wondered if this was its silvery blood.  Outside, crickets and cicadas sang.  Cars passed.

"What's that sound?"

"Just cars."  And then the train.  All the usual sounds.

The slurping had changed to something higher now, shrill, similar to the whistle of a teakettle.  It was not the sound of anything alive.

"We're okay," she said.  "Do you want to hear your train music, before storytime?"

Her son pressed his palm to his forehead.  He was wearing the Spiderman costume he did not like to take off.  It would be worn out by Halloween.

"Can we put it in the refrigerator?"

"No.  It's too big.  I don't know how to help it."

"Oh, you're right.  It can't fit."

She took his hand in hers.  His nails were painted red, blue, red, blue, red, the colors of Spiderman.  They sat on the porch underneath a canopy of synthetic cobwebs.  Her son sat in her lap.  Since his father left, he slept in her bed every night.

The white orb was at the back door, still.  They weren't afraid.  They looked up at the real moon.  It was old-gold, big and clouded, and she thought of all the paper moons and all the things a moon could be like.

"If you look long enough, the clouds resemble a face.  That's the man in the moon," she said, pointing.

"It's only rocks up there, Mom."

She was about to call it a Harvest Moon, but she was silent, knowing her son would ask what that meant.  

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