The Man in the Moon
by Rebecca Snowden
“What goes on in this house is nobody’s business,” mama says. “You understand me?”
She’s down on her hands and knees, scrubbing at the stain on the wall. The yellow flowers on the wallpaper have faded almost to white but she keeps scrubbing.
At dinner, JD said I looked at him funny. When I tried to say I didn’t, he threw the pot roast against the wall. Then he went for the belt.
Finally, she leans back and looks the wall up and down. Her face is red and there’s little beads of sweat standing out on her forehead. Satisfied, she turns to me.
“You tired?” she says, and when she talks her voice has gone soft, like velvet. I nod, even though I’m not, just so her voice will stay that way, all the hard edges rounded out.
She helps me to bed, careful not to touch the red welts on my legs.
“You know he doesn’t mean it,” she says.
She leans down and pats my cheek and her face has got that hard look again.
“You remember what I told you.”
Outside my window, I can see the moon, glowing silvery-white. Mama told me once that the moon was like God’s flashlight, that he shines it down on us sometimes just to make sure we’re alright. That when people talk about the Man in the Moon, they’re really talking about Him.
Nobody’s business, I think. I close my eyes and whisper my secrets to the moon.