December Moon


“Beware the moon!” Sam shouted, as he jammed on the brakes and turned the wheel hard, sliding dad’s station wagon across the snow covered driveway and to a stop in the yard. The front passenger door flew open before the car even stopped and my sister stumbled from the car.

“Fucking idiot!” Jane kicked at the snow and staggered back. “Trying to kill us? Fuck wad!” She took one last drag from the joint and crouched down and scooped up snow with her bare hands.


I laughed from the back seat as snow balls whumped and cracked against the car and Sam struggled to unfasten his seatbelt and fight back. A snowball exploded in a shower of ice crystals beside my head and I scrambled for cover across the seat, snow and ice melting down the neck of my jacket.

Another heavy whump next to my head and I remembered that as we drove up the country road that climbed West Beecher Hill to the house, I had been sitting in the open window, left hand gripping the roof rack, wind whipping tears from my eyes in frozen rivulets, Sam fighting the wheel wanting to get as close as possible, and Jane handing me our empty beer bottles that I launched at every mailbox and road sign along the way.

From the corner of the yard, my sister had found her range and snowball after snowball sailed through the still open window and burst inside the car. I scrambled out the opposite door and ran for the house, leaving my brother still yanking stupidly at his seatbelt.

Halfway across the yard, I stopped and grabbed up two handfuls of snow and packed them into a tight ball. I aimed at the moon and stepped into the throw as I let it fly.

For a brief, suspended moment there were two moons — both hanging in the December night, both round and smooth and white, their trails visible in expanding arcs across the perfect black sky – intersecting.

Jane was laughing, her hands on her knees. I yelled, “Look out!” She turned and the snowball struck her forehead with a sickening thwack. She went down hard on her ass in the snow. Sam, finally free of his seat belt, fell twisting and shrieking with laughter, half in and half out of the car while my sister sat in the snow with a puzzled expression on her face. All under the watchful gaze of the moon.


The moon didn’t have anything to do with Sam’s death. We’d lost touch over the years as even brothers sometimes do. Jane called one night to tell me he’d been in a traffic accident somewhere in Montana. I listened on the phone, looking out at the full moon, wondering if he had swerved into a snow covered driveway.


The moon didn’t have anything to do with Jane’s death. But when she called to tell me about the tumor in her head, I couldn’t stop my mind from following the perfect arc of that snowball as it stretched from my hand.


As far as I can tell, the moon will have nothing to do with my death. But all the same, I notice it when it’s out. Especially when it’s full. And I’m careful never to throw snowballs at it anymore.


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