Message to the Moon


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Message to the Moon

It was a cold winter evening in Yorkshire, United Kingdom, and Mari had just returned home from work. It had been her first day back to her job as an Engineering Manager after the end of year holidays, the first she had spent alone.
In reality, not completely alone, at least not on Christmas, thanks to one of her old school friends inviting her to spend it with his family in Belgium. She didn’t hesitate and boarded the last flight before the break. They knew she was having a hard time with the ongoing divorce proceedings filling her mind.
After 15 years of marriage, she gave up on trying to fit in, to adapt and to match unattainable expectations from her now barely husband, or BH, as her friends had nicknamed him. He was not a bad person, but they were completely different people. Had they both compromised somewhere along the way, she may not have reached breaking point. Instead, she had always been the one to concede. She endured it until she couldn’t physically take it anymore. Once that happened, there was no turning back.
The arguments had gotten really bad two years before. For six months, he put her through the hell of screaming matches and threats to leave. In the end, she was the one who decided to call it quits. Mari thought he should have seen it coming and not be shocked by her choice, instead, he was caught into a downward spiral of guilt and remorse, turned to hate, to disdain and, finally, to civil coexistence, which was essential for their teenage daughter, Alison.
Alison had been Mari’s biggest support through it all. Wise beyond her years, she was the one to tell her mother that had to end. She was not in favour of the ‘stay together for the kids’ motto. Even worse if it the reason was ‘keeping up appearances.’
He moved out in February to a town an hour away. He wanted to live closer to his work, something that made complete sense - he’d always hated the commuting. It had been one additional reason for his deteriorating mood and aggressive behaviour - but also caused the most painful part: he couldn’t see Ali over the week so she started spending most weekends with him.
Mari would love to spend more time with her daughter but her ‘me’ time was welcome. It was much needed. Because of BH’s always on the go nature and having moved three times in four years, they were left with no close friendships, something that she was slowly trying to rebuild.
Granted, the first move, the one that took them to the UK, had been because of her job. She had been happy to go back to the country where she had lived her late teens and gone to university; the country where she felt she could truly be herself. The thing with Mari was that she found out she was attracted to girls from a very young age. She was confused, especially as she liked boys too.
Being born in Brazil, a deeply Christian country, to a conservative Catholic family, left her with no one to talk to. It was only after moving to Manchester that she understood her fluidity and, most importantly, was reassured there was nothing wrong with her.
"You’re bisexual," a friend told her, never questioning or criticising it.
She had brought it up with barely husband when they were dating. He was cruel to her then, which should have raised many red flags, however, as a smitten lovebird, she pushed it back to the dark, hidden spots of her mind and convinced herself it didn’t matter. She would be with him and could be seen as straight – that’s what most people thought she was anyway. It wasn’t important.
Nevertheless, it came back to bite her when she reached out to an increasingly withdrawn eight-year-old Alison, who confessed she was attracted to girls between tears. They came out to each other on the bedroom floor and their relationship grew stronger. There were no secrets and no boundaries to their love for one another.
BH didn’t know it yet. It was Ali’s choice whether and when to come out to him or not. She feared rejection, especially as he had started bringing up Mari’s sexuality, blaming it for the marriage failings. She called him out, telling him he was using it merely as a scapegoat. She had never cheated and was not about to start. She didn’t need both genders simultaneously in her bed. When she was in love, she was in love. Full stop.
He then accused her of never being upfront about it and she had to not so gently remind him of the night she was left in tears at a restaurant after she told him. BH suffered from a severe case of selective memory. It also affected him during his anger outbursts, when he would say the most horrendous things to Mari with the sole intention of hurting her, often bashing her parenting skills, and proceeding to almost immediately forget them. When reminded, he would either play dumb or apologise ‘because he didn’t really mean them.’
Words always mean something, she thought.
The whole of 2017 had been full of ups and downs, ending with another down of BH claiming Christmas and New Year with their daughter to himself. The previous year, after yet another argument, he went on a solo trip to visit his family in Brazil over the holidays, leaving Ali and Mari to enjoy the peace and quiet of the house.
“He could have taken you instead, Winston” Mari mumbled to the English Bulldog wagging his short tail, desperate to go on his walk.
She liked Winston but she had been against them getting a dog. Both she and BH worked full time, highly demanding jobs. She didn’t want the extra cleaning, playing and caring for. She had been outvoted in the house by him and an excited Ali. She had been promised she wouldn’t need to do anything for the dog. That didn’t last and she was slowly tasked with more and more pet related activities as time passed, culminating with complete responsibility when BH moved out to his rented flat, where he was not allowed to keep pets.
She sighed. “Let’s go, pup. Let’s see if we meet any of your friends tonight.”
She had to admit Winston was a great help to meet people in the neighbourhood. He was a big softie and loved by other dog owners and most non-dog owners alike (some were scared of him, mostly because of his sheer size). Many didn’t even know her name as she didn’t know theirs. They were known by their pets names.
Winston’s doggy friends included a hyperactive, black Labrador and a nervous, rescue Golden Retriever; grumpy and happy pug sisters and the 1D poodles - Harry and Zayn. The poodles had been used by Mari as a lesson in acceptance for Ali, before the coming out. Not the dogs themselves, but their owners. They were a very good-looking gay couple who stopped to talk once in a while. Her daughter’s eyes had twinkled at the information, maybe as a sign of what was to come.
As usual, she had never learned their names so Mari nicknamed them Chatty poodle guy and Stylish poodle guy, reflecting their personalities. Chatty could talk for hours while Stylish was very quiet. He had only recently started talking to her while walking the dogs by himself. Mari admired his perfect, button-up coat, his high fashion glasses and the diamond earring on his left ear. He always looked impeccable, making her feel like a scruff. Her work outfit was usually composed of plain, black trousers and a long sleeve shirt, just like what she had on, hidden under her blue winter jacket.
Stepping outside her house, she was greeted by a beautiful full moon. She wished she had a professional camera (and photography knowledge) to take pictures of it.
That could be a New Year Resolution, buy a camera and have some photography lessons.
She had made a couple of resolutions. She didn’t like the going all out to do things you would never stick to. Instead, her choices were to spend more time with her friends, go out more and take care of her health. That last resolution had been sparked by the clothes that were becoming tighter and tighter on her body. She had taken to comfort eating and gained weight, not massively, but enough for a few stubborn, concentrations of fat to build in unflattering places. She knew she needed to exercise so she started by making her walks with Winston a little longer.
Her friends had also encouraged her to date. She hadn’t been put off relationships by the end of her marriage. She knew she had made mistakes she would not repeat. She had learned many lessons, including to always speak up and not be ashamed of who she was. She wouldn’t hide anymore. Nevertheless, that did not fit as a resolution. She wanted to find the right person who, she knew, was out there somewhere.
She looked up at the moon again. One of her friends told her to send messages to the universe via the full moon. It wouldn’t hurt to try. She closed her eyes and faced the satellite, bathing in its bright light.
A message to the moon it is. “Hey, moon! You look wonderful tonight,” she whispered and giggled. If anyone sees me, they might think I’m drunk. “I am ready to move on. Can you give me a hand?”
Winston pulled hard on the lead, yanking her arm. She looked to where he was pulling and saw Harry and Zayn running towards them. She saw a man she didn’t recognise running after them.
When they were close enough, the dogs started their usual game of getting close to each other and jumping quickly away. She laughed and held the poodles by their collars so that they couldn’t take off again. It was hard to control Winston’s 30Kg and he wrapped his lead around her legs, making her lose her balance and fall butt flat on the ground.
“Hi,” the man said, breathless. “I’m so sorry. These two took off on me. Let me help you.”
He put the little ones back on the lead and helped Mari up. She giggled. She was past the age to feel embarrassed about falling. Besides, being helped up by a hot guy wasn’t something to complain about.
“Don’t worry. Harry and Zayn probably saw Winston and ran over to play.”
“Ah! They’re friends,” he smiled. “Naughty things! My brother would kill me if anything happened to them.”
Brother. She looked at him and couldn’t find much resemblance to either Chatty or Stylish. “Which one is your brother?”
“Luke,” he said with a grin. “We don’t look much alike, I know.”
“Is that Chatty or Stylish?” she asked without thinking and regretted it straight away. She blushed profusely when he let out a loud cackle. That was something to be embarrassed about and she hoped she wouldn’t be able to see her deep red cheeks.
“I love the nicknames,” he said, still laughing. “Luke is definitely stylish. And Steve won’t ever shut up.”
“Please don’t tell them.”
“I won’t tell them you gave them the nicknames but I will use them from now on.”
She smiled. He didn’t hate her for her silliness.
He crouched to play with the pets for a moment and Mari took the opportunity to appreciate the view. He had a beautiful face, with a trimmed beard covering a perfect jawline. She wasn’t sure if his hair was blond or light brown. Most of it was covered by a beanie hat, only illuminated by the street lights.
What are you doing, you idiot?
He looked up at her again, still smiling. He had a very sweet smile - finally, something she could find similar to his brother - and luminous green eyes, the exact shade that was her favourite colour. Mari felt something weird in the pit of her stomach. Butterflies?
Oh shit! This is not good.
He stood up again and slapped his hands on his hips to get the dog hairs off.
“I’m Kyle,” he said, extending his hand to her. “I better introduce myself before you nickname me scruff or something.”
“Mari. It’s Mariana but everyone calls me Mari,” she replied, shaking his hand. “Nice to meet you, Kyle. Why scruff?”
“Nice to meet you, Mari,” he laughed. “Stylish’s scruffy brother.”
“Don’t be daft!” she said with a grin, unable to contain the flowing banter. “Maybe Posh Scruff,” she added, making sure she poked fun at his Southern accent, the same his brother and partner had.
“Hey! I’m just a normal Surrey boy, you Northern lass,” he replied, imitating her accent in turn.
They laughed together.
“Do you live around here or are you just visiting?”
Way to sound desperate, Mari.
“Luke and Steve are gone for the week and I’m babysitting.”
“Oh,” she said and tried to pretend she wasn’t disappointed, failing miserably at it.
Kyle placed one arm on the back of his neck and repeatedly rubbed it.
“I’m also spending some time with my son. His mother moved to Sheffield with him last September and I haven’t been able to see him a lot.”
“I’m sorry. I know how hard it is,” she said, completely understanding his situation. “My daughter is away with her dad and it sucks. She’s back on Sunday, so it’s not as bad but still…”
It seemed they had entered blurting mode and words were coming out unfiltered from both of them. Mari wasn’t sure if that was a good thing but she felt a heart-warming sensation.
“Oh,” was all he managed to mutter.
They both snorted in sync, which led to more laughter.
“That’s alright,” she said.
The dogs were getting rowdy and difficult to control. In summer, when it was light and warm, she would suggest letting them off the leads in the field behind them. That was not an option in the cold and dark days.
“We better get going,” he said so quietly that Mari thought he was hesitating. "They're getting annoying."
Can that be a slight hint of disappointment? Her heart raced.
"Yeah. See you around Kyle," she said. Her brain was processing information at a thousand miles an hour. Should I give him a clue? Will he think I'm creepy? Sod it! "If you're gonna be walking Harry and Zayn over the week, we'll probably meet again. I'm always out around this time."
She cringed internally at her not so subtle way of telling Kyle she would like to see him again. She clutched whatever was in her pockets hard trying to contain the anticipation of what he might think or say. He remained quiet.
Mari swallowed dry and started to walk back to her house, which was right next to the field.
Well done, Mari. You've scared him.
“Mari,” she heard Kyle call. She turned to see him still in the same spot. Harry and Zayn sat down, staring at him, hands in his pockets, shoulders scrunched up, almost touching his ears. “Would you like to go out sometime? Just for a few drinks. No drinks if you don’t like drinking. It can be for chatting, as friends, that is if you’d like to be friends or-”
“I’d love to!” she jumped in, stopping his babbling.
“Great!” he said, briefly closing his eyes and exhaling. “Friday?”
“Friday is great. Then I don’t have to worry about work the following day.”
He replied with a beautiful, toothy smile. It brightened his features and his face took on a different shining light.
"I'll see you over the week to agree on the details. Same time every day, isn't it?"
"It is," she giggled and waved goodbye.
Mari watched him walk off with the pooches. She couldn’t hold back the giddiness she felt. She felt at least 15 years younger.
She looked up to the sky again and smiled at the moon.
“Thanks, moon,” she whispered. "I don't know what's going to happen but I have a great feeling about this."

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Aw, this was super cute with the dogs, Mari and Kyle! :)

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Thank you so much for reading and appreciating the story. It's very special to me. :-) <3

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