I was playing with Skip, my runty little mutt-dog. He’d pull on the rope and I’d pull back. Sometimes I’d get it away from him and throw it down the beach for him to chase.
My mom yelled out from the beach house. She sounded worried, panicked, even. I couldn’t understand what she was saying, but figured she wanted me to come inside for the night. Her fear of prowlers on the beach always seemed to ruin my fun.
I picked Skip up and trotted toward the door. My mom burst out of the house, but my dad caught her by the wrist before she had made it off the porch and pulled her back inside. She didn’t take her eyes off of me until the door had closed between us.
Frightened now, I picked up my pace for a few yards, but I slowed so that I could try to hear what was going on inside, instead of the thundering crunches of my own footsteps. I was relieved to hear that it was silent, but something beyond that silence caught my ear – a faint whistle, sad but musical, steadily growing louder. It seemed to come from the sky, so I attempted to find its source with my eyes, following the whistler until well after it had gone out of range of my hearing.
Those twenty seconds seemed like fifteen minutes of straining my ears and eyes. Time returned when my eyes reflexively leaped from where I estimated the whistler was to the flash on the horizon just below it.
I thought I’d caught the moon rising.
I watched the glow, waiting for the rest of the moon to come up. I wondered if it always whistled like that and listened for the next sound it would make. It began to growl.
I thought it was mad at me for watching it wake up, but it continued to rumble after I’d politely averted my eyes, so I went back to looking at it. Soon my ears were so filled with the moon’s roar that I couldn’t hear it – or anything else – any more.
Skip looked up at me quizzically and then burst into ash. My eyes darted around and took in everything. The sudden wind disintegrated it all, like a raygun in a cartoon. The grass, trees, and house exploded into dust just like Skip had a split second before.
I stood there, dumbfounded, and the moon dipped back behind the horizon, apparently satisfied.
And then it began to snow.
The Moon's Whistle (c) 2004, Christopher Stuck
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