THE MOON TO MY SUN by Julie Murphy

I swung my leg over Mae’s second story window, steadying myself on her mother’s lattice of vines. Mae followed close behind, yelping as her hand slipped.
I reached up to support her, and my hand unavoidably slid up her olive colored pleated skirt. Blush warmed my cheeks, but Mae didn’t even flinch.
“Thanks,” she whispered.
“Shhh,” I gently urged. “They’re going to wake up.”
“Tabby, you know Papa sleeps like a bear. It’s my mama we gotta worry about.”
“Your mama is the bear,” I said.
She stifled her chuckle as my feet hit the ground. I swung my messenger bag around and offered my hand to her as she jumped over her mother’s flowerbed.
The freshly fallen leaves that dusted her front yard made a completely silent escape impossible, so we made a run for it, leaves crunching beneath us.
Out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw a second floor light switch on. I grabbed Mae’s hand and tugged her closer to me. “Come on!”
I slid behind the wheel of my daddy’s old GMC pickup just as another light turned on. This one coming from downstairs. My heart slammed against my chest, and Mae shrieked with laughter as she jumped into the passenger’s side.
“Go, go, go, go!” she cheered.
I started the car and hit the gas all in one motion, my tires squealing theatrically.
For a moment, the only sound between us was our heaving breaths as we navigated our way out of town.
“Just drive normal,” Mae said as I was about to roll through a stop sign. “You don’t want to get pulled over for something dumb.”
I rolled my eyes at her, but she was right. “Put your seatbelt on.”
“Is that an order?”
“Did I say please?” I joked, reaching over her lap for her seatbelt and buckling her in myself. In that moment, we were too close. She exhaled, and I inhaled, breathing her in like fresh air.
“Full service, huh?” Each word dropped between us like water in a bucket.
“That’s what she said,” I spat back, trying my best to cut the thick tension we shared.
Mae sputtered with laughter. “I walked right into that.”
“You did,” I told her. “You always have.”
Mae played DJ the whole way to the lake. It was some sort of witchcraft that she was able to find the exact music to keep me awake. I’d never been a nighttime person. Not like Mae. My body was always right on tune with the sun. Rising and setting like clockwork. So this late night adventure? This was all for Mae. She was the only person I’d ever miss out on perfectly good sleep for.
As we neared closer to the lake, she leaned over the center console and rested her head against my arm, humming along to her favorite song. Any song Mae knew the words to was her favorite song. She’d recognize a tune on the radio and wiggle in her seat, Oh God. This is my favorite song.
She was reliable in unexpected ways, and I was reliable in the most mundane of ways. Somehow it’s what made us such a good match. I kept her grounded and she pushed my head into the clouds.
The truck rocked back and forth along the gravel as we turned down the unmarked road to our dock. It was missing a few slats and the ladder was broken, but it always felt hidden. Like the world had tucked it away just for us.
But there would be no swimming tonight. It was the first truly cool fall night of the year with the temperature dipping down into the high forties. It was the kind of night that promised morning frost. Mae was dressed for it, too, in her olive wool skirt, ivory sweater, high-heeled boots and burgundy tights. Mae was always over eager for the change of seasons. She’d sweat through warm fall days in boots and sweaters, in the hopes that her sheer willpower would summon the appropriate weather.
I dressed warm, too, but my clothing always existed solely for the purpose of protecting my body from the elements. Which is why I wore a white thermal shirt and overalls with grass-stained knees tucked into hunter green galoshes.
I pulled the truck up as close to the edge of the lake as I could.
“We never make it out this way so late in the year,” I said.
Mae let out a delighted sigh. “Isn’t there just something so wonderful about fall? Even the moon feels different. Look at it.”
I looked at the moon like she said. And I didn’t think it looked any different, but I begged myself to see what she saw so that I could just live in Mae’s world for a little longer.
She picked her head up and pulled my hand to her lips, just holding it there and inhaling the scent of my skin.
There was so much I wanted to say. Something—something more existed between us. But I didn’t know what to call it, and was it even real if we didn’t point it out? The way her head rested against my arm. The way my hand slid up her thigh as I steadied her while we climbed out her window. And all those nights spent laying on the floor of her Papa’s study, sipping from one of his expensive bottles of scotch. All those near kisses that never stood a chance of becoming more than a possibility. Not now.
And then she let go. “Sun’s gonna be up soon, Tabby.”
I nodded as I turned the truck off and pocketed the keys. Dragging my feet, I walked around the back of the truck to the passenger’s side door. I looked up at Mae’s moon and took a deep breath before opening the door and unbuckling the gold and black urn from where it sat.
Mae. Every bit of her was in this urn. Ashes. All that remained of my best friend and the person who I feared to be my one and only true love.
I walked to the edge of the dock with the urn clutched close to my chest. I never promised Mae I would scatter her ashes. Talking about what she might want in case of something like this was not a luxury we were afforded. But I knew Mae, and I knew her better than anyone else could ever claim to.
I sat down so close to the edge of the dock that I felt like I was floating above the water. Carefully, I lifted the heavy lid from the urn.
I wouldn’t scatter all of her ashes. Just my share. Was it so wrong of me to think that I was owed this? That this little bit of her belonged to me and only me?
It broke my heart to know that every ounce of her didn’t belong to me, but I took my share of her and I set her free.
Carefully, I reached into the urn, and grabbed a fistful of the ashes before replacing the lid and setting down the rest beside me.
I held my fist out into the air, and let go. A lazy gust of wind blew my share of Mae out into the lake. This part of her would stay here forever, at the end of this gravel road, all the way out to the edge of what had become our own private dock.
Mae’s moon washed over me as I said goodbye to the pieces of her that belonged only to me. I waited until my sun came up. Mae would always have the moon, but at least she left me the sun.

Julie Murphy is the #1 New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of RAMONA BLUE, DUMPLIN’, and SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY. She lives in North Texas with her husband who loves her, her dog who adores her, and her cats who tolerate her. When she’s not writing, she can be found reading, traveling, watching movies so bad they’re good, or hunting down the perfect slice of pizza. Before writing full time, she held numerous jobs such as wedding dress consultant, failed barista, and ultimately librarian.

Learn more about her: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Tumblr | Website

Hot Singles in Your Area

It started with an okcupid profile.

It was a girl in her 30’s. Big, almost impossibly blue eyes. Lashes that were so thick they fell like waterfalls onto her cheeks. Her hair was dark. The color was indescribable – a black blue shade with a golden twinge. She had six pictures of herself on her profile. They were all of her face –tight close ups that obscured anything behind her.

And she wasn’t smiling in any of them.

The girl wasn’t particularly attractive, if I’m being honest. Her eyes were so big they took up most of her face. Her nose was small and sharp. Her slight frown made her face looked puckered, as if she just tasted something bitter. She definitely didn’t choose the most flattering photos of herself.

Her profile was sparse. Most of the fields were empty. What she did share was basic. She wrote her age, gender, and race. She indicated she was interested in both men and women. Her bio simply read, “I want to meet someone. Someone new. Do you want to meet me too?”

Despite the oddities of her profile, I messaged her. I was intrigued by her odd features and mysterious persona. I wrote something small and simple, mirroring her profile. “Hello, my name is David. I’m looking to meet someone too. Maybe we could meet each other?”

It was only after I pushed send that I read her username. “HotSinglesinYourArea.” Fuck. With a user name like that I figured this was a fake profile, probably for a scam dating service. I was desperate, but not THAT desperate.

Well, maybe that desperate. I hadn’t dated anyone in years. Okcupid had led to exactly three dates. One never showed up, the second lasted about an hour, and the third never called me back. I worried I’d never find a girlfriend. Hell, I worried I’d never have sex again! Thinking with my dick, I messaged every girl that looked even the littlest bit appealing.

99% of the time no one messaged me back. But HotSinglesinYourArea sent me a response within minutes.

“Hello David. I would like to meet you.”

Fuck yes! At this point I didn’t care if it was a scam, I was going to try my luck. “Good to hear! What’s your name?”

I waited at my laptop for her to answer. A few minute ticked by with no response. The minutes turned into an hour. I waited and waited, passing the time on youtube. But I couldn’t get those alien eyes out of my head.

Finally, five hours later, she sent me a one sentence reply. “Can we meet tonight?”

I struggled between feeling annoyed at the late response and excited at the possibility of getting laid. I probably should have waited before I replied in some pathetic attempt to pretend to be busy. But my eagerness overcame me. “Yes! Name the place.”

The reply came instantly. “Olin Park.”

I typed my response carefully. “I know the place. I can meet you there in an hour, if you’d like. By the way, what’s your name?”

I waited for her again. It was getting late, nearly nine pm. If we wanted a real date she needed to get back to me quickly. I was about to message her again when she replied. “I’m already here.”

I was a little startled. Maybe she lived around the park? I wrote to her, “You’re in the park already?”

The reply came almost before I hit send. “I’m outside your apartment.”

My heart slammed against my ribcage. She was messing with me, clearly. I started writing, “Very funny-”

But then someone knocked on my door. My hands started to shake. This couldn’t be real. I had one of her pictures up on my screen. I swear the picture had changed so that she was almost smiling.

I approached the door hesitantly. “Who’s there?” I called out.

A moment of silence, and then a male voice said, “Delivery for David Cummings?”

I erupted in laughter. I forgot I had ordered pizza. What an idiot. I opened the door and the delivery guy looked at me with a smile. “That’ll be twenty four eighty.”

“Keep the change,” I told him as I handed him thirty bucks.

He grinned. “Thanks man. And hey, have fun with your date!”

Sweat burst from my forehead. My whole body went cold. “What did you say?”

He narrowed his eyes. “I just mean, have fun.”

“I’m not on a date,” I said firmly.

“Uh, okay. Sorry man. I just saw the girl behind you and figured-”

I spun around, dropping the pizza. No one was there. I could hear the pizza guy slowly backing away. I didn’t care. I turned on all the lights, checking every room. I felt like a moron opening all the closet doors and looking under my bed. After everything had been inspected, I could finally breathe again. My theory was that the delivery guy saw the pictures of the girl on my laptop and thought she was really there with me. That had to be it. There wasn’t any other explanation.

I went to the computer. This girl was creeping me out. I went to block her but something weird happened. On my screen was a different profile. It had the same user name, but the gender said male. Had the girl changed her profile while I was getting the pizza? There were no pictures anymore. I was done with this bullshit. I closed the tab. Clearly, I’d had enough okcupid for the day.

Without warning the tab reappeared. HotSinglesinYourArea. Male, 40’s, white. Except this time there were pictures. Pictures of me. All close ups of my face, not smiling. My flesh broke out in goosebumps. I had a new message.

My breath caught in my throat.

Terrified, I clicked it. The screen turned black. That’s when I saw the reflection of a pucker-face girl in my screen. She smiled calmly. “Nice to meet you,” she said in the voices of a hundred people. She came at me and before I knew what was happening they were inside me.

It was better than sex. And also lonelier.

We are together now. Hundreds of desperate people, just like me. But there is no me anymore. We are we. We breathe as one. We suffer as one. Together. But never complete. We are still looking to meet someone.

Someone new.

Do you want to meet me too?

had a nice visit to the poetry foundation today, spent a few hours browsing their library that had an excellent selection. poetry is… fine? but i’m always sort of stuck by a lack of newness in it. i feel like people are always evoking the same basic things: water, a balloon, clouds of smoke, spilled ink, coffee stains, a ribcage, feathers, silence, the color blue.

i get that these are basic symbolic units and construct our living world (or whatever) but i find it impossible to write poetry (and in many cases, impossible to read it) when these things make all poetry seem wholly unoriginal. I think this is what i mean when i say “i hate poetry” - all of these things could, in theory, be interesting, but when they are distilled to a single word i rapidly lose interest. i could see a poetry without language to be more effective and interesting to me. experimenting with new forms can be really cool, but at the end of the day for me its always the same language and the same symbols repeated to a dull gloss


#but look at the way lydia cocks her head #when she hears just how much Stiles cares about Malia #and when they finish their conversation #stiles and lydia make eye contact in the mirror #but she looks away #because she realized that her and Stiles had something good going #and she’s afraid that she’s about to lose someone else #so she looks away as quick as she can #because it’s weird to imagine stiles with someone other than her #but on the other hand #she doesn’t want to ruin what stiles and malia have #the roles have been reversed and now she’s the one putting Stiles’ happiness before her own #now look me in the eyes #and tell me that in that moment Lydia didn’t surprise herself #and realize that she might have feelings for Stiles Stilinski