When the Moon Fell from the Sky
and into her lap, Caroline took a grounding breath. Caroline had heard that moon visions can be so vivid that they will keep you awake for nights. She gathered up the waning edges of a crescent moon and cradled them like an ailing child. Within moments a vision from her grandmother's wake appeared; it had been towards the end when most of the mourners had scattered. Like a comet crashing into the Earth, a stranger in an expensive suit approached her mother—she'd been smelling the orchids, Grandmother's favorite. At the time, Caroline hadn't thought much of their exchange; but now as the events unfolded, every one of her senses sizzled. Here with the moon in her lap, she was able to unravel the stranger's whispers.
"Remember when you'd say that I was the one you wanted by your side in the end?" Much like the moon is protected by a cloak of magnesium, hydrogen, and carbon, her mother revealed nothing. "When each of our parents were gone?" he continued.
Even though their embrace lasted longer than the others, Caroline's father had been too busy scrolling through his phone to notice. If moonquakes can cause the Earth's water to ripple, can it also chisel fissures into a marriage? Her mother's reaction made Caroline wonder if she was having regrets, life-altering ones. She thought of the time her father had strayed outside the marriage and how the holes in her mother's heart forged craters in their relationship. Perhaps this was her parents' destiny: to be peeled asunder, drifting like the moon does from the Earth—a couple of centimeters each year.
Now in the funeral parlor, the stranger slips a knitted scarf from his coat pocket and coils it around his neck. At the time, Caroline hadn't noticed how her mother had slithered it off his collar and was now picking at its frayed edges.
"I made this for you when I thought we'd be together forever." She caressed the fabric, smoothed it against her cheek. Caroline's mind drifted to her mother's tutorials on choosing a life's partner. Had he been the one she'd been referring to when she'd admonished Caroline to avoid anyone who'd favor a career over love? Apparently, at the apogee of their relationship, he'd fled thousands of miles to pursue a job, his own needs eclipsing any of hers. When he extended his hand to retrieve the scarf, her mother whispered, "My life now orbits the planets of others."
With electrified senses, Caroline watched as her mother clutched the scarf against her arm, and kept it hidden beneath a stack of envelopes and prayer cards. Her mother looked to be making her way to her father—instead, she strolled past him and approached the casket. Before the funeral director lowered its lid, her mother whispered her goodbyes and tucked the scarf beneath her mother's neck, cradling her head much like Caroline had the moon. Caroline knew her mother's love was unwavering, as if gravity kept her tethered to those she cared for most. No, it was not the kind of love that can move mountains. It was the kind of love that fuels a tidal wave.
holds an MA in Education and an MFA from Hamline University in St. Paul, MN. Her essays and stories have been published in places like Colorado Review, Gone Lawn
and Pithead Chapel
. Her collection of essays, "Guess What's Different," will be out in May of 2022. In addition to her website (linked), you can finder her on Twitter at @SusanTriemert