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Mr. Moon

December 20, 2014

note*

Norah forced herself out of little #5 and into the rain. She arrived at The Red Bull expecting it to be dead. South Louisianians will do anything in the rain if its hot, but rain and cold is a sin not easily forgiven. Norah just wanted to lose herself in some writing while sipping wine in the familiar surrounding. She stepped through the door in a gesture she’s repeated a hundred times, with a combined sense of safety and trepidation. With familiarity comes the desparation of routine. It was one thing to be the recent divorcé getting out and meeting people, learning to flirt and date. It was another to be the older woman who is always there and always alone. Always reading. Always writing. Never moving on.

But did she really care what anyone thought of her frequent visits? It depended on the day and the mix of chemicals in her brain. On good days, no, she didn’t care. She could sit and read and watch and write and sip with a detached confidence. Others, not so much. Other days she slouched over her writing, sipped her wine and felt the tension all around her. The sounds and sights of other people. Normal people. Their laughing and socializing taunting her weirdness.

And then there was the ever present disease of being single. The need to fulfill a suppressed desire to find him. The secret but never dormant romantic hope that he would be somewhere where she would be. One day. She would see him. Meet him and love him and receive a love she had yet experienced.

There had been men. Dates and flirting and casual sex. She had learned to do that. She had even fallen in love and watched him move away, swept away by the thread of his story while hers remained in the same chapter.

During her last fall into the rabbit hole she had pledged to give up. To stop looking. To stop trying. She deleted the dating app. She even considered cutting her hair short. Fuck it. She had told herself. I’ll date netflix and hulu. I’ll paint. I’ll become someone else.

She would stop looking for her unicorn. The man that didn’t exist in her little city. She could picture him now. She saw him approaching the bar just as she was huddled over her writing, the house red in front of her. Tall, his brown skin set against the crisp white button down neatly tucked into well-fitted slacks. None of this baggy, pleated bullshit. He would be fit, the kind of guy who had run that morning. Who was going to hit the gym for an hour some time tomorrow but not buff, not infatuated with the look of his own muscles. He did not take selfies. He would have a foot in two cultures, never quite belonging to either. Working and living in America he had spent his summers in his parents homeland, keeping the language alive, absorbing the culture he loved. It would mean that he would always be a bit apart from his peers.

His hair would have a bit of curl to it. He would keep it cut short because the curls annoyed him. They had to be kept in check so they didn’t grow out of control like in the pictures of him from his teenage years, wild hair sticking to his face as he ran across the soccer field.

He would look at her across the bar wondering what the odd girl was doing writing at a bar. She would look up and see him. She would recognize him and do a double take. He would notice this and see her face fully. The blue eyes, the dark hair. The way she looked at him would give him pause. She looked at him like she knew him. Like she had been waiting for him. Why was she looking at him like that? She had pretty eyes, he would think. He’d never seen eyes that blue before.

He would accept his drink from the bartender, something brown and dark, sparsely poured over a single block of ice. He would say something to his friend, making an excuse to stay at the bar. They would continue to look in other’s direction, missing the other’s glances but hoping to hold the other’s eyes.

He knew he was a good looking guy. There had been women. But it never lasted. His past, the religion that he was born to, the stereotype of his culture, the desire to spend months overseas in places most Americans had never heard of, were afraid of…. the women he had attracted didn’t want what he wanted. They didn’t get him.

Norah’s friends arrived. She became a different version of herself. She sat up straight and put her notepad away. She tossed her shining black hair back and put out her arm to welcome her friends. Her conservative black dress was just fit enough to show off her svelte figure and small breasts. She stood tall in the new heels she had found at a boutique. They were a little higher then she was used to but the little bows at the tops were adorable. Her hair was curled just the way she liked it. She wore the simple necklace her daughter brought her from Italy and a little bracelet that matched it’s subtle sparkle. She felt beautiful and confident. She took a sip of the heavy, Tannat Reserve the bartender had picked out for her and looked his way. He was turned the other way. As she reached up to push back the piece of hair that had fallen in her face, he brought his hand to his forehead and combed through the curls that were getting too long. Just as he did, he coyly turned around toward the bar, put his elbows down and looked up at her. She was looking at him. They saw each other. He surprised himself by smiling a bit more than he intended to. He almost laughed. Her face relaxed into an easy, knowing smile. They lingered for a second. His friend turned him around. “Our table is ready,” he said. He looked at her again as he signed his bar tab, like he was getting on a plane never to return. She was laughing with her friend. He went to the table wondering if he had lost the moment.

When she looked up again he was gone.

The check he had signed was still at the bar. Norah got up to go to the bathroom. She could see him in the far corner, deep in conversation with his group of friends. She slowed down in front of the black folded check holder he had left there. She gave the bartender a glance for permission as she lifted up the cover to look at his name. There was a scribble and then “Moon.”

Mr. Moon.

 

Norah looked down at her notepad. She had been scribbling nonsense. Would she even be able to transcribe the indecipherable handwriting? It might be a good story. A bit over the top, maybe. A little too perfect? Too romantic? If only it would happen that way. Where are you Mr. Moon?

She closed her book and put down her pen and nursed the remaining sips of bland, cheap wine. She was about to leave when a friend walked in with a stranger in tow. “Hey Norah,” Sam said as he sat down on a barstool next to her, the stranger joining him. “What are you writing this time?”

“The usual self-absorbed nonsense,” Norah answered.

“You always say that but I enjoyed the story you shared with me. You’re a good writer. One day I’m going to find that blog of yours.”

“That will be a sad day for both of us,” she replied.

His companion was looking around like a fish out of water. He seemed nervous. Norah looked over at him. He was cute. He was her type. A graduate student no doubt. Tall, dark graduate students are a dime a dozen in this college town. She had tried that on for size a couple of times. It didn’t last. She finished her wine and pulled her Dad’s navy peacoat over her grey sweater, looking for her umbrella.

“You’re going?” Sam asked.

“Yeah, I’ve been here for a while,” she said as she stood before the two of them, their stools turned her way. She looked at the stranger again. He had large, almond-shaped brown eyes with long black lashes. How could he see through his nerd-thick-framed glasses? Didn’t the lashes beat against the lenses? She looked up at his wavy hair. She noticed a distinct streak of gray struggling to come through. He barely looked at her. He was awkward. He looked tired.

“This is Aaron,” Sam said.

“Hi Aaron,” Norah said, shaking his hand. He hung on to hers a little longer then she was comfortable with. A difference in custom, perhaps?

“What are you studying?” Norah asked him.

“Studying? Oh, I’m not a student,” he said with a very heavy accent. “I’m a professor.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. I made an assumption,” Norah said, embarrassed.

“Aaron is teaching history in the doctoral program,” Sam said. “He has a 5-year fellowship. He was the top candidate in a competitive program. He just got here last week. I’m showing him Lafayette.”

Aaron looked embarrassed. He had witnessed Sam talking him up for days and it was getting old.

“Really?” Norah said.

“What’s your last name?” Why was I asking him his last name? What difference does it make? He wasn’t even looking at her. Just leave, Norah.

“Well, it’s an usual name,” he said.

“Try me” Norah said. She watched his body language as he spoke. He was uncomfortable and weird but she could see under the baggy unkempt shirt his arm muscles tightening the sleeves. She noticed the wrinkles forming around his eyes, the tension on his forehead. He wore fitted jeans and stylish shoes. He straightened up a bit to talk to her, showing himself to be quite a tall man. Norah looked up at him. He was kind of hot. She wished she had taken time to freshen up in the bathroom.

“It’s not my real name. You see, in my country we don’t have surnames like you do. I’m just Aaron. So when I came to the US I had to choose a surname. When I was a little boy, my mother told me that I was always looking at the moon. Every day, every night I had to see the moon. I was crazy about the moon.”

Norah watched his face as the English words struggled out of him, heavy with skewed emphasis and mispronounciations.

“So, she used to call me Mr. Moon.” he laughed, his face relaxing. “So I thought if I’m going to leave my country and go to this strange place called Louisiana, I can make it so all the students have to call me Mr. Moon and it will remind me of home, of my mother.” He said nervously.

“Your name is Mr. Moon?” Norah asked.

“It’s funny. I haven’t told anybody that before.”

Sam was distracted by a blonde who had come up to the bar. He looked over at Norah and Aaron and smiled, happy Aaron had found someone to talk to.

“You sure you don’t want to stay?” Sam asked. “I’m buying.”

“You know what? I will stay,” Norah said. She pulled up the stool next to Mr. Moon and tucked her converse under her leg.

“Hey Sam, get me a class of that Tannat they have back there.”

“So, tell what you teach, Mr. Moon.”

He laughed with a shy smile that lit up his face.

“Please, call me Aaron.”

“Well, my focus is on the middle east. I’ve written quite a bit about Israel and Palestine……Thomas Friedman? You know the book? Of course I’ve read it many times….Have you ever been to Jerusalem?”

……….

 

*This attempt at fiction is in response to a call by a blog I follow: Chuck Wendig’s Terrible Minds. The assignment was to pick a song title at random and write a story around it. Mr. Moon by Jamiroquai is what showed up in my playlist.

 

 

 

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From → Rantings

One Comment
  1. Awesome. I wanted to read more.

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