Full moon over fellsway, p.1
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       Full Moon Over Fellsway, p.1
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           Sebastian Bendix
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Full Moon Over Fellsway


  FULL MOON OVER FELLSWAY

  By Sebastian Bendix

  Copyright 2016 Sebastian Bendix

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  Christian came downstairs to find his mother and father lying together on the couch, crying. This was strange for several reasons: 1) because in the entire time his mother and father had been married he had seen them maybe hold each other five times 2) because the couch was small and could barely fit two people and 3) his mom had left his father three weeks ago for another man. Christian had not expected to see his mother back in the house any time soon, and he wasn't prepared for it. Thankfully Barney, the family's six-year-old beagle, was anxious to go out, so it gave Christian an excuse to slink past them and make an exit through the kitchen.

  No such luck - Mom sat up. "Honey?" she said through strained tears.

  "Hey Mom."

  She removed herself from his father's arms. "You probably have a lot to say to me."

  "Actually Mom, I don't."

  "Chris, please." He hated that his nickname defaulted to 'Chris'. It was the same nickname given to someone named 'Christopher', like that weird greasy kid in science class who picked his nose and ate it. Christian was somebody cool and interesting, like a movie critic or a secret agent. Chris was just some sad kid living in a quaint New England suburb with parents who were splitting up.

  He sat there, skulking, waiting for his mom to finish whatever she was going to say. Douglas Marks, his dad, sat next to her, offering up a sad look of apology. Christian had a lot of sympathy for his father, especially these days, but right now he hated him for allowing this shameless woman back into their home.

  His mom started to blubber out words but she couldn't hold it together and Christian found himself genuinely disgusted by her, maybe for the first time in his life. "Mom, look, Barney really has to go out. Can we talk about this later?"

  She acquiesced with a wet snuffle and Christian went to the kitchen, Barney trailing him, tail wagging. Before heading out the door Christian had a bright idea, and stopping at the snack drawer grabbed several wrapped sticks of Slim Jims and three cheese and cracker packs. This would ensure that he didn't have to return home for lunch, and he could make up an excuse that Barney got caught on a scent that lead them through the Fells on a wild goose chase. Hopefully Mom would give up waiting for him and slink back to her loft-dwelling lover in the city, leaving Christian and his dad to their sad dinner of chicken cutlets and corn.

  The Fellsway was a body of wilderness roughly five miles in radius that sat at the crossroads of three New England townships. It housed a reservoir, a rock quarry and a web of hiking trails, and it had been Christian's refuge and playground for as long as he could remember. It lay beyond his house, bordered by a narrow winding road that shuttled commuters to and from the highway. It was a treacherous route as cars would come whipping around blind corners at off-ramp speeds, but Christian worried more about his dog than himself. But Barney was far too clever to be hit by a car, and over the years proved himself worthy to go unleashed into the wild.

  Across the street was a small parking lot that was too close to the road to offer necking teens in cars adequate privacy. From the lot a paved trail wound to the burnt out remains to a small cabin that had been used by Girl Scouts before some stoners accidentally set fire to it a few years back. In fact, had it not been for Christian's dad who spotted the fire it from their deck, a lot more of the Fellsway might have burned down with it. Enough of the cabin's foundations were left to make it a good place to stop and rest, so Christian plopped himself down on a ragged hunk of concrete and decided to make an early go at his lunch. He planned to save the cracker packs for later, but the Slim Jims didn't prove enough to satisfy his sudden appetite, so he scarfed down all the food he had. Hope that'll last me till dinner, he thought before he pocketed the wrappers and set off, dog in tow, into the woods.

  A quarter mile from the cabin the path split into a fork, presenting Christian with a choice: a rocky trail that led to thick forest and territory largely uncharted, or his usual path: a wide dirt trail that led to the main reservoir. Christian favored the latter path as the reservoir was tranquil and a fine place for an imaginative boy to daydream, but today his faithful canine had other ideas, charging off on the rocky trail, nose-down and snuffling. He called for Barney to halt but it was no use; he was lost on a scent, and Christian could either follow or leave him to hunt. Not in the mood to be entirely alone, Christian chased after his dog down the rocky trail.

  The deeper he went into the unknown, the more unsettled Christian felt about his mother's surprise morning visit. The truth was that he suspected the reason why she was there, and it was very uncomfortable to think about. But try as he might to turn his mind away, to girls or school or a cool idea for a Dungeons and Dragons adventure, he couldn't let go of the unsettling event that occurred a few days before. It was the sort of life-changing moment that could define a child, make them question everything they knew, rip away the comfort-blanket of their safety. The sort of thing that made them look at the world, perhaps for the first time, with the sad, cynical eyes of an adult.

  The event happened a little over a week ago, when Christian returned home after riding bikes with some friends. He found his father, a reserved, quietly intelligent man, seated at the dining room table, glasses off, eyes red.

  "Sit down son," Doug Marks said. "I need to talk to you."

  Christian pulled up a seat, thinking that he must have done something wrong. But after a shared silence he read no anger from his dad, only a sort of deep, unknowable sadness. It was a look that until now, Christian had never seen his father wear. And it scared the crap out of him.

  "Something happened while you were out," Dad began. "Something that I'm not very proud of, son. In fact, for the last hour I've sat here debating if I should even say anything to you at all. But I made a promise that I would."

  Christian was even more scared than before. "Dad, what are you talking about?"

  His father sighed, looking much older than his thirty-five years. "Your mother leaving?well, it's been very hard on me. I love?I loved your mother very much. I didn't always show it the best I could, but I did. Aside from you, she was everything to me. The reason I got up to go to work every morning. You might not understand it now, but someday you will."

  The world of adults was confusing and uncertain and Christian hoped to never fully understand it, but for his father's sake he said, "I'll try."

  Dad smiled with feeble appreciation. "This is very hard to say to you son. I'm not very proud of what I'm about to tell you, but your grandmother said that it was important that you hear it. And that you understand it to be true."

  Christian's mouth went dry and his stomach did a little lurch towards his throat.

  Mille Winters, Christian's grandmother on his mother's side, was a hard drinking, two packs of Pall Malls a day kind of woman. Despite a rocky relationship with her kids, including Christian's mom, she was a loving grandmother to Christian, and he always looked forward to seeing her on visits or holidays. When Grampa Dick passed from throat cancer Millie was left all alone, and it was decided that it would be best if she moved in with the Marks, into the apartment they made of the basement. Despite Mom's initial concern, the arrangement worked out fine, and Grandma Millie became a sort of live-in baby
sitter. Always one to encourage naughty behavior, she loved to supply Christian with candy bars and allowed him to watch raunchy sit-coms like Three's Company while she sat back, cackling over a glass of sherry, smoke in hand.

  Then, six months ago, Millie died of emphysema. And the worst part was that Christian was the one who found her. He didn't know if he'd ever be able to shake that image of her, lying prone on her scotch-guarded couch, robe hitched up over spindly, varicose-veined legs?

  "I don't mean to upset you son," Dad said, sensing Christian's discomfort. "You've been through so much lately. But I can't keep this away from you, I'm afraid. Though I wish to god I could."

  There was a slight tremble in his father's voice that made Christian want to run from the room and forget this whole conversation. Instead, he summoned courage as best he could, and said to his dad, "Tell me. I want to know." He couldn't believe the words had come from his terrified mouth.

  Dad smiled, letting Christian know he was proud of his bravery. It made things a little better but not much. "Son, I did something stupid.
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