HARVEST MOON • by Scotch Rutherford

Her body was fluid and flawless like blown glass, her skin the color of sandstone, smooth as naked porcelain; and she had beautiful high cheekbones, and a spirited cackle-laugh. She had kinky shoulder-length medium brown hair she blew straight, and an angular button nose, with big brown doe eyes that caught your stare at mid glance in her floodlights and gave her a look unfamiliar to most. They say some girls are beautiful, and some girls are cute, but anyone who’d ever seen her knew she was both. Lonely by her own hand, she was a calculating recluse.

Solid in frame, and sterling in character, with deep blue eyes that kept a serious pitch; he confused would-be sociologists with a perpetually surly mug he completed with a smug grin. He was below regulation height by vanity’s inflated standards, with hair not quite dark enough to make up for it. An outsider who lived on the inside, he was a dark prince hiding from the light; where he was never discreet, but magnanimous with his brooding charm, and charismatic wit.

Two or three times a week she’d board the bus he was on, during his commute to work. When he’d reach out and touch her arm, she’d smile, take the seat next to him and they’d talk about old times. Unworldly and demure, she was ten years his junior, and although he was cloistered and rigid, she made him feel like a high school senior. The two of them had met nearly two years ago to the day, the only way two of their kind could; through someone they both knew.

Every few days, when she knew he’d gaze out of the enormous bay window facing the street where he worked, she’d walk by and wave. Sometimes she’d twist her face into a pugnacious snarl, attempting to call him out, and other times she’d simply wave, flashing a neon smile as she paused, baiting him. But he never walked out to meet her, and every time he wished he could.

One evening after working late, he stood alone at the bus stop, as the last of the light faded, watching the hum of ubiquitous traffic, as his mind chased after a dream. He glanced at his watch, knowing if the last bus wasn’t late, he’d have to walk.

Driving back from a session with her therapist, she stared at the hypnotic, broken white line as it trailed almost fast enough to connect, wondering if there was an equal amount of pavement on both sides of the street. A slow drizzle had begun tapping on her windshield when she glanced at the dash, looking for the time, and she could see it was getting late.

It had started to rain as he watched the bus take the corner, and had fixed his eyes on its inviting glow as it slowed, only to find out it wasn’t for him. Then he watched it pull off, heading the opposite way, at the next intersection.

It was already late and she could see the road up ahead was closed. She adjusted her wipers as the rain picked up, deciding to take a detour; one she hoped wouldn’t take her far out of her way.

It had gotten colder so he zipped up his jacket, and stiffened the collar, in an attempt to brave the rain, only to watch as it picked up. Now it was loud as it pounded the awning; he stifled himself, knowing he’d be drenched in half a block.

She pulled up to the intersection at a red light in the lane closest to the bus stop where he was waiting, knowing he had to see her, and hoping he would. Despite the heavy rainfall, he could see her with both eyes forward, watching him in her peripheral vision, with a smile hiding behind a stoic expression. She turned her head to face him, as he knocked on her side window, flashing him a wide grin and a premeditated expression of surprise. He met her grin with his own, and climbed in. In a shade just shy of olive, her skin had a vibrant and youthful glow; and he reflected it back through dark blue eyes, as deep as oceans, and as resolute. And as the light changed, she sped off into the direction he was headed.

She chirped and twittered as she trembled, as he smiled and laughed without restraint. And their pheromones danced as they vibrated, harmonized in perfect synchronicity. The rain lightened to a drizzle, and he pointed out an enormous harvest moon as it unveiled itself from behind the wispy cirrus clouds.

When she pulled up closest to the one-way side street he lived on, he confused the methodic tapping on the windshield with his own tempo, until it was surpassed by the rhythm of his heart. She was a stranger in a strange land, an emissary to her own educational pursuits, alone looking for someone; anyone who knew what it was like. He was a loner, seeking something unfeigned; easily able to picture what he’d long envisioned in his mind’s eye, knowing how exclusive it was.

She leaned in closer to the edge of what could be, now edging close enough to leap; he thought she might, and hoped she would. But instead he said goodnight, and he got out and closed her car door; he could hear it slam from the inside.

The rain had now stopped, and the sky was clear, under the bright light of the harvest moon. He looked back once, maybe twice to see if she’d left, but she was still there. Her heart sank as she watched him enter his apartment building, until the door closed behind him, and he disappeared.

The man she’d almost married was his best friend, and although reluctantly, he had quietly kept his word; living by a code of honor he knew she could never understand.

Scotch Rutherford is a calloused-palmed working class guy from the Boston area, writing about dark corners between the bright lights.

This story was sponsored by
Camilla d’Errico: A character designer and artist who dances on the tightrope between pop surrealist art and manga inspired graphics. Explore her paintings, characters and comics: Tanpopo, BURN and Helmetgirls.

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