A strange moon came on Sunday night and whispered this strange story to me. I've posted this on Weyward Thoughts, but it's too strange to not be on this blog too!
By The Light of the Moon © Billy London
Orly hurriedly threw overnight things into a bag. Pawel tapped his fingers on the doorframe. “Are you really doing this again?”
“I… I can’t talk to you right now.” The words emerged from her mouth weaker than she had expected. “I’ll just stay at the old folks’ home.”
Pawel held up his hands and left her to it. That he didn’t try to stop her spoke volumes about their relationship. She slung the bag over her shoulder, scooped up her mobile phone and closed the door behind her. Nothing was worth the grief on the other side. Talking had reached its final impasse.
Orly tucked her phone into her pocket, and wrapped her arms around herself. September’s afternoon weather had cooled into a sharp, winter reminder, as she took the familiar path from her flat with Pawel to her second home. That end of terraced building spoke of everything she didn’t have with Pawel. Her grandparents’ love had been the stuff of legend. It had survived a World War, five children, eleven grandchildren and even death. She supposed the house had been left to her as the eldest of the grandchildren. Or rather, she needed the stability more than any of the others…
She wondered why it was so bright on the street until she glanced up and saw the moon, so close, so round and so bright, she could count the craters on the surface, each pit and fall, dark against the blistering white of its surface. Strange things always happened during full moons, Orly felt fully in awe of its magnetic light. It kept drawing her gaze upwards and her mind far from the fight with her boyfriend. Before she realised, she stood outside her grandparents’ home. Her phone buzzed in her pocket, and without looking to see who it was, she answered, “Hello?”
“Pawel called me,” her sister said impatiently. “To find out if you got to Gran’s okay.”
“Yeah, I did. Fine.” She opened the door and closed it carefully behind her, remembering other people lived on one side of the terraced house, and the walls were not particularly forgiving. “He didn’t need to worry.”
“What are you doing to each other?” Anyeta asked. “What are you doing more like?”
Orly put her bag down on the stairs and sat at the kitchen table, turning on the underlights of the cupboards. She drew a finger in the dust that had gathered in the two weeks she hadn’t attended to clean. “Why me? You don’t know what we argued about.”
“Same old, same old, Orly. The conversation won’t change the more times you have it. He’s said what he’s said. It’s up to you to accept it. And if you want to be together, be together. Just stop leaving every other day. It’s not fair on either of you.” Orly felt a lump forming in her throat, and she couldn’t bring herself to answer. “Listen, I’ll call him back and tell him you’re all right. But you have to sort your head out tonight. Either you go forward together or you split.”
“I’ll sort myself out,” Orly promised, her voice thick with hurt. “Thank you. I’ll call you tomorrow.”
“Okay, Netty. Night. I love you.”
“Love you too.”
She put the phone on the table and pressed her hands to her eyes until the need to start bawling stopped. Under the roof of the home where she had known such love and such comfort, she recognised her failings against her grandmother’s as a partner and as a mother. She missed them both, it weighed on her chest. They’d been perfect people, drifting through their life on love and happiness that everyone fell under the spell of it. What did Orly have? A shell of a home and a boyfriend who couldn’t see a future with her. She drew out her phone and decided to distract herself from the misery. Slowly, the light in the kitchen turned from the muted LEDs, to a hazy rose. Orly turned off the underlights and turned them back on. The red haze filtered through the kitchen, into the hallway and outside. She glanced out of the garden, the same pink tinged the overgrown lawn and the wooden garden furniture her grandfather had been so proud of.
A door slamming close jerked her from the window, knocking over the chair nearest to her. Orly pressed a hand to her rapidly beating heart. A woman stalked into the kitchen and sat down, her veil streaming behind her.
Orly had only ever seen that woman in photographs. Before age softened her angular face. “Gran?” she whispered. A moment later, the door opened and closed again.
“Uma, don’t walk away from me!”
What’s happening right now? Orly gripped the dusty kitchen counter for help. For some semblance of reality. She’d never seen that wedding dress in her grandparents photos. Which could only mean…
“I cannot believe you ruined my wedding!” she blustered.
Orly had always been told she looked like the female version of her grandfather, and she’d pooh-poohed it. But with Nadav Sarkis standing right in front of her, she could see it as clear as day. In the arch of his brows, the height of his cheekbones and the shape of his mouth.
“I don’t believe for one minute you thought you were going to tie yourself to that fucking puddle of a man!”
Orly gasped. She’d never heard her grandfather swear. Ever. He braced his hands on the table, his face so close to her grandmother’s, Orly couldn’t see her any more. “As if you’d replace me with him. After everything, everything we’ve been through.”
“I could have, but since you decided to show up and declare a lawful, bloody impediment, I can’t now, can I!” Uma raged, thrusting him away. “I can’t have a baby without being married, you know that!”
And that was her cue to leave. Orly reached for the kitchen door and found it locked. Come on! They had no locks in the house anywhere! God, I promise, I never noticed how close Uncle Reyan’s birthday is to Gran and Granddad’s wedding, I never. Let me out!
Nadav flipped the table over, to Uma and Orly’s shriek of surprise. “Are you mad, woman?” He bellowed. “You were going to pass off my child as that fool’s?”
“He said it didn’t matter! He understood!”
Nadav snorted in disgust. “Does he bollocks! He wouldn’t know what to do with you in a bedroom. The pillock doesn’t even know you don’t need a bedroom at all”.
Oh, God get me out of here. I do not want to know this about them. Absolute debauchery. Orly tried the door again, and met with brute resistance. This was a far cry from the grandparents who left flowers in books for the other and wrote each other love letters. Her grandfather flipped a table! Like a madman!
“I can rely on him,” Uma blazed, her veil streaming behind her as she stood toe to toe with Nadav. “You don’t want kids! Why you were shagging me, without those fancy things, God only knows.”
Okay, now she knew why Uncle Reyan was born so soon after her grandparents’ wedding. He had never been “early”. No wonder they didn’t wag the proverbial finger when she moved in with Pawel to ‘live in sin’.
Nadav caught Uma by the face, bracing her cheeks between his palms. “Because I love you! You daft bat, I want everything with you.”
Uma pulled his hands from her, bending to right the table. “You’ve shamed the devil out of both of us. How will we walk around here after the show you made?”
With a gentle nudge for her to move out of the way, Nadav righted the table. “I don’t give a flying monkeys what people think. I’ve been shot at by Nazis. People giving me dirty looks is a walk in the park after that shite.”
“But you left,” Uma said, her voice shaky with tears. “You left me. Again.”
“I had to,” Nadav sounded almost defeated. “I’ve still got commitments to the Air Force. God save me, Uma. My head is… What I saw…” He struggled to continue and burst out, “I look at you and you’re so perfect. And all I see is blood and death and bodies.”
“For God’s sake, man.” Uma said with a sigh. “I’m not perfect. Something that’s very clear now, isn’t it? You don’t think I saw bodies? Or death? I thought about you. And us together in this house, being happy. That’s everything I held on to. Because we’ve suffered too much to not deserve it.” She glared at him, folding her arms under her breasts. “You didn’t want it so I went for a second option.”
Nadav’s eyes narrowed. “You’re not marrying him.”
“Not after you said you’d had me on my hands and knees out the back of Miner’s club, of course he won’t marry me now!”
Orly pressed her fingertips to her temple. Whatever she had done to deserve this, she had to have paid for it now.
“I wasn’t lying,” Nadav said glibly. “Reverend Moss won’t let you back in that church, I’ll bet.”
Uma threw him a look that would have competed with any Sergeant Major. “It was a bastard thing to do.”
“What I did, or what we did?”
Uma picked up a mug and threw it at him. Nadav ducked and it smashed right by Orly’s shoulder. “You! You three piece cock! My mother warned me, back and forth, be careful about who you give your virtue to. And all this shows is I make terrible decisions.”
“Flaming Nora!” Nadav heaved. “That nearly hit us!”
Orly frowned. Her grandfather was brought up in the East End of London. Us was a Northern indicator. What on earth did he mean?
“Listen to me, and don’t throw anything else.” He took a hesitant step towards her, and Uma looked as if she were about to pounce on him and slit his throat. “You’ll never want for anything Uma, I swear to you. You and this baby. You’ll have everything you want. I’ll work my arse off, I promise you.”
“Now you’ve made anything else impossible, I suppose I should be grateful,” Uma answered, brushing down the dress and relaxing her fighting stance.
“No, not grateful,” Nadav took another step forward until he could reach Uma. Gently, he tugged her forward until they pressed into one another, fitting like puzzle pieces. “We’ll go up to Gretna, get married and just get on with our lives. There’s no need for secrets or lies any more. We can be together… ” The moment Nadav’s head lowered to kiss Uma, Orly looked away. She really had heard and seen enough. The message had been received loud and clear. I will never watch porn again. I will pray for forgiveness more often. I will love and appreciate my boyfriend. Whatever we have, however long we have it for, that will be enough for me. I promise.
“Take the dress off,” Nadav growled into Uma’s neck. “And you’ll have to get rid of it. I don’t want anything of another man on you.”
Uma’s mouth curved in triumph. “Help me then. It took both bridesmaids to put it on.”
Without waiting for another prompt, Nadav circled his wife, and began unbuttoning the bodice of her wedding dress.
Jesus, Granddad! Orly thought as his hands slipped inside the dress to cup Uma’s chest. “You feel bigger Uma. I’d know every change in you.”
“Hurry. Wait, wait.” Uma looked directly at her, pointing to the mobile still sat on the laminated flooring. “Orly, answer your phone and talk to your boyfriend. Your grandfather and I are going to give each other a good seeing to, but I can’t concentrate when your phone’s ringing.”
No need to add a telling off to the weirdness happening in the room. “Yes, Gran.”
“Good girl.” She turned back to Nadav, wrapping her arms around his neck. “Take me upstairs.”
Orly scooped up her flashing phone and when she straightened, her grandparents had gone. The red haze from the moonlight remained and so did the sense of judgement from Uma. Talk to your boyfriend. Her phone buzzed incessantly in her palm. “Sorry, hello?”
“Hi, Pav.” She’d never been so relieved to hear his voice.
“Can you open the door?”
Eh? “What? Where are you?”
Orly ended the call and threw open the front door. Pawel stood under the glare of the moon, his eyes red from tears. “I’m sorry, Orly.”
“What on earth for?” She asked, pulling him inside.
“Everything…” Distracted, he looked over his shoulder, along the corridor. “Is something going on in the kitchen?”
Oh god, I truly hope not! “Never mind that. What are you sorry for?”
He took a breath and caught her biceps in his hands. “I know it’s my fault that we can’t…” The words faltered and he looked at the ground for a moment, only to find her gaze once more. “But we’ll try. I want to try. I want a family with you. I want everything you say your grandparents had. We can move in here. Sell the flat, do up this place and pay for IVF.”
“Just like that?” Orly whispered. After months and months of tears and rows, he’d laid everything she wanted at her feet. On the strangest night of her life.
“For us to stay together? Of course!” He brushed his mouth over her cheeks, and dotted a brief kiss on her lips. “I’d move mountains for you.”
Orly embraced him until she could feel his ribs against her own. She’d learned her lesson. A bit too well. “Oh Pav. As long as we’re together.”
Halfway up the stairs, her grandfather threw the failed wedding dress out of his way. Orly mouthed at him, “Stop it, Granddad!”
“Tell that young man we’re watching him,” Nadav said over Uma’s bare shoulder. “You deserve everything more than we had.”
Orly nodded. “Yes.”
“Yes to all of that?” Pawel asked softly. Orly couldn’t bring herself to speak. The thought of her grandparents doing quite unspeakable things to one another really had stolen her voice.