“Blue Moon” — Giri Viswanathan ’20

Later that night, the rain started to fall in spurts and drizzles. The moon shone from behind the clouds, its light bouncing off the damp asphalt in front of the house. The line of cars stretched down the street, down to where the retirees had slept at ten o’clock. From the house in front with the picket fence, illegally-purchased fireworks streaked from the backyard into the suburban night, crackling and flaring as they danced upward.

A man stumbled through the front door, his fingers wrapped tightly around a Blue Moon. Steadying himself on the porch railing, he slipped on his sneakers and turned around. Two kids walked cautiously behind him. The older one met his bleary-eyed gaze with an expression of disgust. 

“Dad, are you good?” He squinted upwards at his father’s bloodshot eyes.

The man lifted his hand from the railing and waved. 

“Wha…whaddya mean. I’m alright.” he muttered.

“Are you sure?” The older kid knew better from health class.

The man leaned in. His voice was a hoarse whisper.

“Yes, goddamnit, I…I’mm, don’t worry about me,” he mumbled. 

His heels scraped as he shuffled down towards the white sedan parked at the front of the house. He tugged at the locked handle of the driver’s seat and fumbled in his pocket for the key. His older son glanced worriedly at his brother and huddled beside him in the backseat. The man surveyed them in silence for a moment through the rear-view mirror. He rolled down a window to throw the Blue Moon onto the front lawn. 

A dense silence blanketed the car as they drove. The older child slid into the middle seat and surveyed the curve of the narrow road ahead. The car jerked down the hill as the man applied the brakes. As they approached the thoroughfare that night, the younger brother closed his eyes and lay his head on the older child’s lap. The car skimmed along the highway, its headlights glimmering in the raindrops. 

Alone on the narrow highway, confidence bloomed inside the man. He shifted his weight onto the acceleration pedal. The car snapped as it raced down the freeway.

“Dad, slow down!” the older child screamed. His brother remained asleep.

“Don…don’t worry kiddo,” the man shouted. Saliva foamed at the corner of his mouth. In the distance, the older boy glimpsed a pair of headlights. 

“Dad, I’m not kidding. You need to stop now!.” The car rumbled as it drifted leftward, sliding over the concrete hump between the lanes. The older child heard a scraping sound as the car dragged a golden cone beneath it. The lights grew brighter.

The man threw his hands from the steering wheel and shielded his eyes from the headlights of the oncoming truck. “Ugh, I can’t see,” he spat.

The older child heard the crunch of metal as the truck slammed into the left side of the sedan. Glass shards pierced his abdomen.

The younger boy was only awake for a moment.