The Moon and the Mockingbird

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The first time she noticed the mockingbird, Cassandra was getting ready for bed. As she brushed her teeth, Cassandra could just see a blood moon rising over the low pines that marked the edge of the yard. When the sound of the brush against her teeth no longer filled her head with noise, the house was quiet again. Downstairs, Cassandra knew, her father was drinking whiskey in the dark. Her mother had left for work hours ago, and she wouldn’t come back until the moon had set again, returning with the roar of the truck’s engine and the noisy energy of her exertion. Without Cassandra’s mother, the house sagged with quiet inertia, and Cassandra’s father, an extension of the house, did too.

The mockingbird’s call was so desperate that at first Cassandra couldn’t identify a pattern in the round, rushing notes. It was as though the bird breathed notes: trills on the inhale, trills on the exhale, until the air was full and there was no room for even the sound of the wind brushing the curtains across the window frame. The moon rose higher above the pines, growing smaller and brighter as it cleared some low clouds. The hallway to Cassandra’s room glowed. After she had tucked herself in, Cassandra lay awake for a long time, overwhelmed by the light and the song that filled her quiet night house.

The next morning, the moon and the mockingbird were gone. The day was sunny and full. Cassandra’s father mowed the lawn. Her mother sang as she hung the laundry. When the sun went down that evening, it stayed dark and quiet until Cassandra was asleep in bed. She woke, though, to the mockingbird. It sang outside her window, the only sound in the world, the sound of the moon rising, red, over the sea.

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