I have shared over a dozen original short stories on this blog and all can be found in a listing to the right of the posts. I'll continue to share more. Thank you for reading my work and I hope you enjoy this story. As usual, copyright (©Veronica Randolph Batterson) applies.
Hang the Moon, Molly Byrd
By Veronica Randolph Batterson
(©Veronica Randolph Batterson)
They say she talks to angels. She says they answer her. Most say she’s just crazy, but he thinks she “hung the moon” and he told her once.
He was proud when he did it and euphoric. It made him feel good and he wondered if people who got high on drugs had the same experience. Not the drugs he had to take but the ones people used to change their moods. He possessed no sense anyway, but telling her how he felt made him dopey and silly. He couldn’t focus on anything and he knew he wore a ridiculous smile on his face for the rest of the day. Others thought him simple but it was what she thought about him that mattered. And she told him.
“I think you make the sun rise, Harold Brown,” she said.
It was to the point and direct, but she smiled when she said it. And Molly Byrd never said anything she didn’t mean. He couldn’t remember his immediate reaction but it must have been good. He knew it because she asked if she could push his wheelchair. He had said yes and he never let anyone do that for him.
They became inseparable then. Wherever Molly Byrd went, Harold Brown was nearby, observing from his chair and admiring with all his being.
On clear nights, when the stars and moon hung brightly, Molly Byrd wandered the streets, face affixed toward the heavens, oblivious to her surroundings. Harold Brown watched out for her. It was during this time that Molly Byrd would have her celestial discussions, with the angels relaying their messages to her. So she said and he believed her.
One particular night, a shooting star sent Molly running. It took everything Harold could muster to keep up with her. He found her standing on a rock by a lake, her face upturned and her body still. Her silhouette reminded him of a statue, proud and strong. The sight made his heart catch in his chest. He wondered what messages were being exchanged as he watched.
When Molly Byrd finally slumped from exhaustion, the stellar conversation over, he thought she might fall right off the rock. He got as close as his chair would allow, which wasn’t near enough to grab her as she slid. She collapsed on the dew-covered grass; her face hung limp upon her shoulders.
When she finally gazed up at him, her eyes were drooping and confusion marked her face. She looked right through him.
“Harold Brown, what are you doing here?” she asked.
The question hurt him. Didn’t she remember they went everywhere together? He looked up at the sky as if he’d find the answer there. She lit up his life just as those stars illuminated the darkness. Molly Byrd was his guiding light.
Things changed after that night. Molly became more distracted than usual, often venturing off without Harold and forgetting him altogether. He tried not to be disappointed but despondency began to stifle him. He no longer wished to face the day each morning. Eating took effort and he lost weight and forgot to take his medications. Harold Brown hadn’t the energy or will for life. Others noticed.
They gave him words of encouragement, helped him dress and took him on outings. His new friends fed him and read to him, nursing him to better health. The will to live grew stronger; he began to care again.
When he was able, Harold ventured out alone, as he had before sadness took control of him. It had been weeks since he’d seen Molly. He remembered it clearly, as if only hours before. He forced thoughts of her from his mind as he watched children playing tag in the park, the parents mindful of their whereabouts.
“Where’ve you been, Harold Brown?” came the question from behind him.
He felt a grin begin to form and it spread so wide that he thought it might split his face in half. Everything appeared brighter, as if a light bulb had suddenly been turned on in a darkened room. He wheeled himself around to face her.
“Where I’ve always been, Molly Byrd,” he replied.
She stood before him, looking the same as always. A red balloon reached for the sky beside her, its freedom hindered by the string she held in her hand. He suddenly felt like the balloon, bridled and controlled by Molly Byrd. It confused him. She tied the string to the arm of his chair.
“I thought you might like this,” she said.
Harold watched the balloon dance in the wind, fighting against constraint. His voice cracked as he asked the questions he needed to ask.
“Why did you leave me, Molly Byrd?”
“The angels said to,” she responded.
“Will you leave again?” he asked.
“I don’t know,” she shrugged.
It wasn’t what he wanted to hear but Harold Brown was glad he asked. And Molly was just being honest. She never said anything she didn’t mean. When the night sky was clear and it looked like the flickering stars were ropes of light hanging the moon in the darkness, he knew where she would be. She described those words to him and he saw it. And he believed her.
Harold untied the string and let the balloon soar above him. They watched the red orb grow smaller as it floated higher, finally out of sight.
“Goodbye, Molly Byrd,” he said.
Then Harold Brown turned his chair and wheeled himself away. He felt himself floating higher, just like the red balloon, but in control. Away from Molly Byrd.
©Veronica Randolph Batterson