“Mommy, why does the moon look so sad?”
I looked up. I couldn’t see the moon through his window, though I could see the light she cast.
“She’s over here, mommy.” He was pointing up to the far corner. I’d be able to see if I put my head by his and looked under the gauzy purple drapes. I did, wincing at the gentle crunch of my hair on the pillow.
But sure enough, from his vantage, I could see the moon, hovering in the far corner of his window. She didn’t look particularly sad to me, but then, perhaps he’d simply never noticed before.
“The moon is in mourning.” I explained. “She’s locked in a high tower, and wishing she could gave birth in the fields where she was born.”
“But why is she so sad tonight?”
I sat back up, shrugging. “I don’t know, dear. Maybe she saw something that reminded her of home.” I tucked the blankets tighter around him. “Are you going to be warm enough?” There were goosebumps crawling up my arms, but–
“I’m fine, mommy. I like it being cold.” He told me, for probably the fifteenth time. He was so patient.
“Oh, yes. You told me that.” I patted them again. Then I sat there. Not wanting to leave, having nothing to say.
He didn’t seem to mind. He closed his eyes and curled over, disarranging the carefully tucked blankets. “Where are you going to go tonight?” He asked me.
“A meeting.” I said.
He opened his eyes. “Of course it’s a meeting! But where are you going?”
I smiled. “A place called Santa Fe. You can not get there on foot, by ship, or by horse, because it is so high above the mountains that even the birds have trouble flying there.”
“How are you going to get there?”
“Oh, I’ll probably take the fireplace.”
“Like in Harry Potter, mom?”
“Yes dear. Only I don’t need all that nonsense with flue powder. I’ll just ask the fire to take me.”
“And the fire’ll take you?”
“If I’m polite enough, yes. I may need to offer it a gift.”
“Is that what the flu powder is?”
“I suppose dear, although not a very nice one.”
“Why is it called flu powder? Does it give the fire a flu?”
“Flue is another word for chimney, dear.”
“Oh. What are you going to give the fire?”
“Probably some wood. Maybe a piece of charcoal, if it would like.”
“Oh. Are those good gifts?”
“I should hope so.” I said, sounding a little sterner. “I always do my best to give good gifts.”
“No you don’t.” His eyes snapped open. “Last Christmas you said so, you and daddy were talking about Uncle Elmer and you couldn’t figure out what to get him so you said that you were just going to get him an ugly sweater because at least he would think it was funny.”
I laughed. I couldn’t help it. It was true. “Alright. Alright, you caught me out.” I smiled, and started tucking the sheets and blankets around him again, for something to do with my hands. “I often try to give good gifts.”
He nodded firmly, showing his acceptance of my compromise, and closed his eyes again. For a moment it was silent. The moon was sinking lower, her light bleaching the purple curtains and casting spider web shadows around the room.
It was silent. I started to stand, and he took my hand. “When are you going to come back?” His eyes were squeezed shut.
“Three days from now, honey. I’ll be back Saturday morning.”
“Are you going to take the fireplace back, too?”
“No dear, I’ll probably take a plane. Did you want to go with Daddy to pick me up at the airport?”
“Yes!” He opened his eyes again. They were dark, in the dim moon-light.
“It’ll be very early.” I said, “But I would like to see you.”
He nodded firmly, swearing to be there. Then, second thoughts, “How early?”
“Probably four or five in the morning, dear. Before the sun rises.”
His eyes got wide. “I’ve never seen the sun rise!”
“Well, that will be exciting then. We can watch it in the car together.”
“Is the sun grumpy when he gets up in the morning?”
“Yes dear.” I said. “But don’t worry. When he rises in the morning he’s already been up getting ready for several hours. He’s not grumpy when he’s rising. He’s usually very happy.”
“Why? Does he like mornings?”
“He likes to make colors, dear, and the sunrise is a good time for that.”
“But no one is watching.”
“That’s alright. He likes to make them anyway. And you and daddy and I will be watching.”
He nodded. “Alright.” He sat up and gave me another hug. “Have fun at your meeting.”
“Thank you dear.” I hugged him back, running my hand through his short hair. “I’ll do my best.” A moment passed, and then I pulled back. It was getting late. “You had better sleep now, okay?”
“Okay mom.” He lay back down, closed his eyes, curled over, wrapped the blankets around him.
This time, when I stood, he just said, “Goodnight mom.”
“Good night, Jared.”
I walked quietly across the thick carpet, smelling child and fresh laundry and cat, and opened the door, letting in the light.
I smiled. Almost made it. I shut the door and turned around. “Yes, dear?”
“Can we rescue the moon some day?”
I was silent.
“From her tower. She doesn’t like it. It’s not nice to be sad. Can we go get her?”
“Oh baby.” I said, and I felt my voice catch in my throat. “No baby. She’s going to have to rescue herself.”