Bittersweet Moon

Bittersweet Moon


The moon followed me faithfully. 

Through traffic-choked streets where cars nipped bumper to bumper. Down raggedy one-way mountain roads GPS refused to reach. Past lonesome highways lined with shadows and the smell of earth after rain. 

And when I stopped, the moon did too, leashed to me by the velvety night skies. 

It stopped when I parked to sleep by Walmart parking lots in nameless towns.

It stopped when my battered car made some worrying noise of protest and I exited it to cluelessly shine a flashlight down the hood. 

And the moon stopped when I parked by the side of the road to pick up her 2 AM phone calls against my better judgement, fixing its reproachful gaze on me when they inevitably ended in yelling and then nothing but the sound of dead air and my sharp breaths. 


Now, the moon lingered above the small gas station nestled tiredly by the empty road, surrounded by nothing but silence and inky blackness. I peered through the darkness, trying to decide from the shabby gray-nozzled pumps whether or not it was worth the stop. The green digits above my dashboard read 12:47 PM. Unfortunately, the gas gauge reported much less optimistically. 

Loosening a sigh, I twisted the key and popped the door open. The last dregs of warm evening air had drained from the dark night, making me pull my jacket tighter around my shoulders. 

The moon watched patiently with its heavy-lidded eye as I coaxed the tired old pump into submission. I glanced at the peeling building tucked behind the pump, its dark windows solemnly reflecting the night back to me. It looked barely larger than a postage stamp and uninhabited. 

The moon was my only company for miles. 

I allowed myself only a second of discomfort before shrugging off the chill. The gas station could be a haunted house for all I cared, as long as the pumps spat out enough digits to get me out of here. 

It was at times like this, when the darkness was too heavy and the tightness in my chest was too hard to ignore, that I felt that burning need to keep moving. Keep running.

When I left home, I was under no illusion that I was doing anything other than running away. Away from her. But also away from myself, which scared me infinitely more than her and the hollow absence she left after it was all over — not that they didn’t scare me, because they did. 

When I left home, the only thing I took with me was the moon. 

Here, under its watchful silver light, in the bittersweetly-scented night air, there was no room for regret. 

Here, for the first time in too long, I felt like a real person, and not a caricature of someone who I wanted to but never could be. 


It takes some twisting to coax the nozzle back into its slot. 

Sliding inside my car, I shut the door against the night chill and turned the key in the ignition. As I pulled out of the gas station, the lights on my dashboard winked like stars, mirroring the pinpricks pressed into the sky above it. 


The moon followed me faithfully.