As the earth fights to rise, the heavens allow themselves to be taken. And the music fades into thunder.
The night is hot. I walk in it, in the hot rain, because I’m lonely and alive and because I have nowhere else to be. Steam blooms off the asphalt and daisies lay like broken fists on lawns. The homes look full of mud, dark hovels where the living weave their tales together, and more loosely than they could. I know because I’ve seen it and because I’ve been it that they’d rather turn the lights off and stare at a reel of sex, weapons and advertisements for the same orgasm and glory, and let their own tales fall flaccid.
And the sky offers nothing but wet. It’s foggy black and moonless. Those who wish to see will see by halves under streetlamps.
I round a corner where a new house is still pine under a plastic sheath. It’s all freshness, the pine upheaved by rainwater, the ebullient purity released by breaking down a living thing and reshaping it.
The heat, the pine in my nose and palms hurts because I always hurt. But it feels good too. It feels like someone notices I need kisses. And still, unremarkably, I’m alone. However far the rain traveled.
Their paws move silently through the arborvitae. I would have missed them if I hadn’t turned then.
Three coyotes. Watching. With the moon settled in their eyes.
And they probably stole it because coyotes do that kind of thing.
How like and unlike they are to my little dachshund. They’re half threat, half beg, where he’s all beg and tagalong. They and I are locked onto each other as if by magnet, as if by the moon. I’m terrified. I clutch my rosary with one hand and place my other thumb into the groovy trigger of my pepper spray.
Their pyrite and mango fur ripples in the lamplight, as if to say, how silly of you. How silly of you to be here alone. How silly of you to be at all. How silly to come to life empty-handed, and to furthermore insist on a stroll through rain. Your shoes are soaked.
Except they don’t use words like furthermore or soaked. Their language is silence and howl, an enviable simplicity.
I have nothing to give them.
Then I think for a minute about whether the thing I have is a something or a nothing. Alright, I say. You’ve stunned me out of sorrow, into fear, into company. And now that you’re here, I do have something to give. I like the way I lie, so much I start to believe my bluff.
Would you care for loneliness? Don’t your kind like loneliness? I’ve got ten-years, maybe even twenty-years worth. See? I hold out my palms to show them, as I would my dog a treat. The rosary drops with a ping. The pepper spray rolls to my fingertips. I had forgotten what I clutched, but I barrel through on grandiose momentum. Take it to the hunt and to stealing. Take it to the heart of your pack. Take it to the moon.
The way they look is too fierce for pity, too gentle for anger. Asphalt-rimmed almond moons. Six of them, unflinching, reflections of… what? I’m shaded in rebuke, and a guilt I can’t name is lit by the same luminous gaze.
They say, or the moon in their eyes says, you just hang onto it a little longer and see what it becomes. That’s all they’ve got. And I think, probably, the coyotes are liars. Good for nothing liars.
So I count to three and we all break the magnet. They return to their hunt. I search the ground for another remedy. The sheath on the house flags in a gust, another reproach. I turn back to pick up my rosary and catch three tails sway in tandem into a darkness they can penetrate. They won’t go hungry tonight.
The rosary is flecked with dirt and rain. As I wipe it off in my shirt I realize I’ve been praying to myself. God is wild, maybe too wild for me to adore. Better for the moon to stay out of the sky and out of watchful eyes.
Sodden cigarettes line the gutter like grief. A squeaky violin moves Mozart into the storm from a well-lit house. And the steam keeps peeling up and into the water pressing down and rolling and shaking the cigarettes. As the earth fights to rise, the heavens allow themselves to be taken. And the music fades into thunder.
I open the door of my muddy house, flooding it with moonlight. The people who live here have screens in their eyes. I realize, from some sifted ground of my tv-grown heart, I have a pine house of unforgiveness in mine. Not a new one either.
But I won’t forgive now. I won’t find a pack of imperfections. I’ll hang onto my solipsism like a band of thieves.
Kathleen Robinson is a freelance writer, editor and tutor living in Washington D.C. Her writing has appeared in Verily, Ethika Politika, Fare Forward, and Philanthropy Daily. She might finish her fairy tale novel before midnight.