Vasant (Spring) 2021 Stories - Carolyn R. Russell


Full Moon
By Carolyn R. Russell


Jill asks me to meet her at the town golf course. It’s the middle of January, and freezing cold, but she’s more sister to me than cousin, and the raw urgency in her voice scares me. When I get there, I go to the low benches that front the whitened green. They’re icy and bare, treacherous. Shielding my eyes against the setting sun, I scan the expanse of snowy acres. I see her then, my Jill, on a small incline in the middle of the course. She extends an arm when I reach her, the one not holding the baby.


“Stay back,” says Jill. “I don’t know how bad it is yet. They might be able to get inside your head, too, if you get too close.”


I know, right then, that things are never going to be the same again, that my life is now forever split: what came before and what came after.


“What can I do?” I ask.


“Take Perrie. I don’t think they know about her yet.”


Jill darts forward and thrusts the baby into my arms before backing up several feet. Perrie is pale and shivering, maybe too cold to cry.


“My car’s really close,” I say. “Let me take you home, Jill.”


“NO!” she screams. “They can hear everything there!”


She runs towards a copse of evergreens, away from me and the baby. I look at Perrie’s little face, all scrunched and wet, and sprint to my car. The formal adoption comes through when she turns three.


Half a decade later, my wife Katie and I throw Jill an engagement party for her and Stewart, an older, easy-going guy. It’s nice. A small group of family and friends, hors d’oeuvres and cake, and honest joy for the couple. Especially for Jill. She’s been through a lot.


There’s a full moon, and I go outside to smoke a cigarette. I hear footsteps behind me; Stewart has joined me on the deck. He puts his hand on my shoulder, and I turn toward him.


“Don’t worry,” he says. “Her doctors are really pleased with Jill’s progress. We’ll be fine.”


“I know you will,” I tell him. “We’ve been listening; you’re great together.”


I stay outside for a while before I rejoin the festivities. Jill and Stewart are waltzing in the living room. Perrie watches from Katie’s lap, her head nestled in the tender hollow between her mother’s chin and collar bone. I catch Stewart’s eye; he avoids mine. I cross the room to my family, and then it’s the three of us, my whole world.

“Kinda wonderful, isn’t it?” says Katie.


“Sure is,” I say. “A lid for every pot, I guess.”


“Speaking of which, would you mind starting the coffee?”


“Already done,” I say.


“See that, honey?” Katie says to Perrie. “I’ve always said, your dad’s a mind-reader.”


I hear Perrie laugh as I go to fetch her a second glass of lemonade; she’s feeling too shy right now to ask.


Carolyn R. Russell from US is the author of The Films of Joel and Ethan Coen, published by McFarland & Company in 2001. Her humorous YA mystery, Same As It Never Was, was released in 2018 by Big Table. Carolyn’s dystopian thriller, In the Fullness of Time, was published by Vine Leaves Press in March of 2020. Her essays, poetry, and short stories have appeared in numerous publications, including The Boston Globe, Flash Fiction Magazine, Club Plum Literary Journal, The Ekphrastic Review, and Dime Show Review. She holds an M.A. in Film Studies from Chapman University, and has taught on the college, high school, and middle school levels. Carolyn lives on and writes from Boston’s North Shore.


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