A Short Story by Carolyn Steele Agosta.
Days before his trial, Ethan asked if I’d be true to him. Would I stand by him, if he went to jail. I told him I wasn’t sure.
“You are all that matters to me”, he said, his gaze settling on my lips as he drew me close. “You will wait for me, I know.”
He was right, of course. I couldn’t stay away. I’d been trying to break it off with him for months, but I kept going back. Something about him – the way his hair was combed straight back from his forehead. His quiet demeanor. The slight accent and formal, old-fashioned manner of speaking that he retained, despite having lived in this country since he was young. He was so foreign, yet so compelling. I had to have him.
My friend Lisa told me to leave him. What kind of guy goes around stealing people’s cars, she asked. Why doesn’t he get a real job? Why does he never smile? Why is he so mysterious, never looking anyone in the eye, never offering to shake hands or tell a joke? I knew she secretly found him sexy, probably because of the distance he kept. But he only wanted me.
And then they sentenced him to two years in prison. No matter. Tonight he sits in jail, but tomorrow he’ll be gone.
After that, we’ll have to go into the countryside. Lose ourselves in the Upper Peninsula, maybe even head for Canada. Somewhere that we could be free. Free to run, free to roam. Learn how to live with what we’ve done. The stolen cars were nothing. They were just cars. But that old man’s stolen life – that was something else. I was just the witness, but that was bad enough, and I have to close my eyes, even now, remembering. Even now, planning ahead.
Loading up the car. Clothes, blankets, cans and boxes of food. He’ll be tired, exhausted, by the time I see him again. Worn out and spent from his run, wild-eyed like a hunted dog. Maybe even covered in blood. Yes, I knew there was that possibility. I’d seen it before. He would need me then. Cold and shivering, wrapping himself in my arms. God, yes, I’d seen it before. And before and before.
In the beginning – oh! Beginnings! We never know that they’re the beginning until much later, we can’t envision the chain of events that will anchor those moments in our life until they become a pivot on which everything after will turn. That moment when we make what seems to be a minor choice and it becomes the rock upon which we might break. I asked Ethan once what made him even look at me in the first place – I’m nothing special – and he simply said, You were so kind. And with those four words, my heart just rolled over and snuggled down into his love, and I knew I would follow this path inevitably no matter where it lead.
Yet, I know where it will lead.
Yet, I know I can’t turn away.
Tonight, I will be gazing at the stars, waiting for him to find me near dawn, near the small creek that runs behind town, holding on for him. They’ll release him, as soon as they can, set him free even though he has served only a couple of weeks. How can you be so sure, Lisa asked when I warned her that we’d be leaving. Why would they let him out early? Just how can you be so sure?
Oh, believe me, I know. Maybe it’s the only thing I really do know for sure. He’ll be released, no doubt about it. They’ll be dying to set him loose.
The break is set for 8 PM. 7:57 to be exact. The moment the moon, the Hunter’s Moon of October, rises into the night sky. The moon rises and Ethan will be forced to reveal his true nature. He has no choice in the matter. The moon and Ethan are inextricably intertwined, now and forever.
And therefore, so am I.
The inspiration for this story was the Hunter’s Moon. This is the name for a full moon in October. Similar to the Harvest moon in September, the moon rises 30 minutes later on each successive night, which means that the sunset and moonrise are not far apart. This means there are prolonged periods of light during this time of the year, which is the reason why these moons have traditionally been used by hunters and farmers to finish their work, and in October it’s also when deer are at their fattest, and the best time to pick them off. I noticed how bright the night sky was when I took my dog out around 8 pm.