The book . . .
one of many . . .
all of them the same . . .
olden tome about the moon.
Lila paid twenty bucks for a stack of vintage works bought from a street vendor.
She sighs, turns down Bleeker,
past a Mexican eatery . . .
an all-night café . . .
a small gallery.
towards home . . .
Not long ago, she lived with an eccentric lady, menagerie of caged birds, dirty dishes in the sink, constant chatter . . . proved exhausting.
A second job at a bistro, double shifts, saved her tips . . .
scanned listings . . .
hunted familiar streets . . .
gothic towers . . .
stretched to skyline.
Pole sign on MacDougal, apartment for lease. Smooth transaction, no questions asked, only one month’s fee.
Comfort there, soft greetings, neighbors gather in lobby, people meet on stairs . . . in hallways—motley group of guests, some elderly, lean on walking sticks—others young . . . dyed black hair, intricate body art on pallid skin.
Almost there now.
snow flurries . . .
traffic sounds . . .
package feels electric . . .
Inside apartment, opens bundle, giggles when treasures tumble to floor.
A tiny title . . .
The Moon . . .
lands at her feet . . .
familiar, somehow exotic, forbidden.
Scoops it up, opens to notes scrawled randomly throughout. Names penned . . . multitude of past owners.
Laura Minard . . .
Alice Ross . . .
One name stands out . . .
Jezzy LaRue, 1921.
Ink runs, makes trickling patterns—like dark blood. Letters ornate, exaggerated curves.
“Jezzy, what wishes did you have?”
Hand presses against dog-eared cover . . . eyes close . . .
Jezzy made cinderblock shelves . . .
dusted each day . . .
Spell candles and Tarot deck, whispers from souls conjured.
But magic belongs to Lila . . . this moment in time . . . fleeting . . . yet her own.
“It’s mine,” says a wispy voice . . .
ghost within snow squalls . . .
creeps in darkness.
“Mine,” Lila proclaims. Dim image forms, pallid girl . . . a snowy field. Candles blaze. Holds tome tight, reads keenly . . . then, with trembling hands, makes offering to the night.
“Jezzy,” says the night wind.
Shadow manifests, towers above Jezzy, covers her.
A howling fills the night. Spectral form dissipates, red splatters around girl’s prone body.
Face changes . . .
older . . .
ancient . . .
seeming to melt . . .
takes shape beneath mystical light . . .
then the dream vanishes.
Lila shivers, looks out her window . . . crystal snowflakes coat walk.
Marco, the doorman, across the street. Cigarette dangles from his lips.
Darker now . . . round orb has lost its luster. Street deserted, Marco . . . obscured within thick flurries. A flash . . . a trick of light . . . shape alters . . .
humped . . .
hands like claws . . .
shadow rises . . .
black velvet wings.
“Marco, you shouldn’t be alone.”
Book tucked in pocket. Once again, peeks through window; eyes strained . . .
snow sticks to glass . . .
torrents from black sky . . .
silver moon claims night . . .
the city . . .
Cabs crawl by, wipers move slowly back and forth. Marco . . . looks to her window.
Door shuts. Soft click. Down stairs, into lobby . . . gray-haired woman, painted cards on table. Another, younger, bent over, clutches worn volume . . . like Lila’s . . .
listens as seer says slowly, “—such bedlam on full moon nights—.” Other words garbled by a siren, by giggling girls at the ATM. “Doesn’t work,” they say in chorus. Glare at Lila with yellow eyes. Movements catlike, sinister.
She rushes through revolving doors, across the street . . . Marco waits.
“Night’s so pretty—the snow—the sky,” he mutters.
“I have something you might like.”
Small purchase offered . . .
Slow smile, slight bow, Marco, whispers, “It belongs to us, always has.”
“Come with me, sweet lady.”
Hands clasped, walk silently.
into building . . .
through lobby . . .
down splintery steps.
The basement, murky, unsettling.
His eyes twinkle.
“The furnace will warm us.”
His coat removed, clothes dirty, stained with brown. Books stacked against wall . . .
all the same . . . rows of them
caked with dust . . .
“I don’t understand,” Lila cries.
His arms wrap around her. “It always comes back to me—to us. Don’t you remember? Jezzy, Laura, Alice—? Volumes of life and death piled high.”
“No, no, this isn’t right. Something’s off.”
“Do you know the answer, my love?” he asks . . .
kisses her . . .
brings her back through time . . .
a snowy field . . .
blood pours . . .
And she tells him . . .
“ . . . it’s the moon . . .
all the moons . . .
shining full and round . . .
decades of them.
It’s our book . . .
one of many . . .
many of one . . . just like us . . .
countless lives from one soul . . . ”
Silver flashes in Marco’s palm . . .
. . . and Jezzy LaRue shuffles . . .
foretells stories . . .
the blood . . .
the snow . . .
Sandy DeLuca has written novels, several poetry and fiction collections, and a few novellas. These include critically acclaimed works such as Descent and Messages from the Dead. She was a finalist for the Bram Stoker for poetry award in 2001, with Burial Plot in Sagittarius, accompanied by her cover art and interior illustrations. A copy is maintained in the Harris Collection of American Poetry and Plays Poetry at Brown University, 1976-2000. She was also nominated once more in 2014, with Marge Simon, for Dangerous Dreams. Her visual art has also been published in books and magazines and has been exhibited throughout New England and in New York’s Hudson Valley. She lives in Rhode Island with several feline companions, including a black cat named Gypsy and her two sons, Gemini and Leo. DeLuca is currently working on a new novel and a series of large-scale expressionistic paintings. She spends some of her free time volunteering at a local food pantry, photographing abandoned buildings, and perusing secondhand shops.