The dark sky looked indigo when lit by the pale moon. The land stretched flat as a pancake in front of them. It was so much different than the places they’d lived before. Usually the landscapes were more like waffles. Crisscrossing streets that segregated the land into evenly divided blocks, each packed in with houses and factories which released a fog that dyed indigo skies black.
Slowly the flatness began to break into the small rises of hills and falls of valleys. Fields carpeted in amber tall grass swayed as they sped by making the land appear to roll and ripple like the ocean she’d once lived near. Pastures and cornfields lazily stretched out to touch the twinkling horizon. It had been years since Rydell could remember seeing stars, and maybe never since she had seen them so clearly.
Rydell rolled down her door window and a rush of wind blustered through. She stretched her fingers through the opening and felt the air rush between her digits, smooth as the softest silk. Her lungs rose high up in her chest and she inhaled the smell of clean laundry, freshly cut grass and newly plowed earth. Breathing it in even deeper she allowed a strong sense of relaxation to radiate through her body. It took her three more lung-full’s to put her finger on what the air here reminded her of. It was exactly like that first sip of ice-cold water on the hottest day of summer, rejuvenating.
As the Volkswagen trudged forward, she tilted her head against the window and tracked the path of the moon across the sky. She had always considered the moon a kind of mystical part of life. It glows only because it reflects the sun. But something about its pale light had always been entrancing to her. Its wonder pulled her in over the years and miles spent in this old cars back seat. She’d mentally mapped out every crater and traced its ever-changing shape. She knew it so well she thought that given the chance she could wander its surface more confidently than any astronaut. Sure, she thought to herself, sunny days were great but they’d never be as magical as a clear moonlit night. You couldn’t look directly at the sun. However, the moon was a different story. The man in the moon somehow coyly and confidently looked back.
When she was younger, Rydell made-believe she had a power over the moon. It followed her, watched over her as they moved from place to place. Lying in the backseat of the Volkswagen she watched the man in the moon as he smiled down and she smiled back, comforted by his presence. No matter where she’d find herself the next day she knew he’d be there to welcome her home as evening arrived.
Not many things could be counted on in her life but a future move was a pretty safe bet. Rydell’s parents couldn’t quite decide where to plant roots. To be honest, Rydell was beginning to wonder if they were even “root” people.
It was less than a week ago when school let out and Rydell found her walking buddies in the gym. The thirteen block’s from school to home passed by in no time as Rachel and Bethany Lancaster relived the hilarious story of Colby Boyd asking Rachael to the movies all the while thinking she was Bethany. Rachel nodded along, never saying a word. It wasn’t until Bethany came up beside Rachael and asked Colby about their math assignment (the only class he shared with either of the Lancaster’s) that he understood he’d actually asked out the twin sister of the girl he liked. He flushed beet red, turned on his heel and all but ran away.
Rydell, caught up in the story, was laughing so hard she nearly tripped over the ramp that jutted out over the sidewalk. Stationed in front of her family’s apartment complex stood a huge yellow moving van.
“Whoa. Do you know who’s moving in your building, Rydell?” Rachael asked as she stared up at the half full van.
Rydell’s heart sank, “I bet I can guess.”
Her eyes drifted toward the second floor and did their best to x-ray through the brick wall of her apartment.
“Well, I better get up there. Bye guys.” She trudged solemnly up a few steps before she turned around to add, “You two sure can make me laugh.” She thought to herself how much she was going to miss that.
“We try. Well, guess we’ll catch you tomorrow in history!” Bethany waved goodbye as she linked arms with her sister and headed down the sidewalk.
Rydell had a feeling she wouldn’t be seeing them in history. She had a feeling she’d never find out if Colby would get up the nerve to ask out the right twin or if he’d give up out of embarrassment and never talk to them again. She had a feeling she was the one moving.
She put up no fight when her mom and dad sat her down and said it was time for a “change of scenery”. It would have been pointless. Despite the fact that half the boxes had already been packed she knew the decision had been solidified before they “asked” what she thought. Things with her parents would always be the same. She was their daughter and they were her parents. They made decisions (presented as choices) and she followed behind.
Now here she sat, watching from the back seat as the sun set over days of horizons that morphed from city silhouettes into barren rolling hills. Through scattered conversations between her parents she had gathered the cause for their newest escape. The mugging of a tenant in their building had pushed them over the edge. Mr. and Mrs. Firr had come to the conclusion that the city was soon to be come too poor an influence on their young and impressionable daughter. Everyday new pressures and dangers jumped from behind every corner. Perhaps a retreat into the tranquility of a country life would hide her away from the encroaching dangers of the world.
She hadn’t been happy about the move (of any of them actually). Breathing in this new air and staring into the moons reliable face was just enough to ease her mind for now. The words her mother always quoted to reassure her echoed in the back of her mind, “New places and new faces means new adventures!” She closed her eyes to think. “This isn’t the time to worry. This sky is to beautiful to waste with worry.”
Under her breath she recited with a groan, “New places, new faces, new adventures.” Opening her eyes one last time she winked a thank you to the moons ever-watchful presence. For just a moment she considered what might be hidden on his un-illuminated half? Did even the man in the moon keep secrets from her, hidden away on its shadows? What was there on the side that the sun could give no light to?
Her eyes grew heavy as more and more questions clouded her mind. Taking in a deep breath she allowed all her worries about the moon and the Firr’s newest destination to fly out the window with the calming Missouri air. She gave up pursuing any answers for now. After all what was the worst that could happen?
A moment before unconsciousness pulled her under the answer drifted bright and blazing through her mind, “I could love it here… that’s the WORST thing that could happen.”