Continued from: Earworm: Part 28 — On the Edge
The full moon reflected off the black glass of the ocean like Narcissus keeping his vigil. Emily sat on an outcropping of rocks overlooking the water. William, nestled in the crook of her waist, played with her hair as it brushed against his cheek. William let go of his mother’s hair and followed her gaze to the moon. Emily could smell the distant, wafting sent of marijuana, and she heard the faint laughter and the music of Dano’s van wrapping and lacing through the nearby woods. She enjoyed that drifting sweet and sour smell, it complimented the stillness of the night, as if for the rest of her life, that smell would bring visions of these times. Someone was coming down the path leading from the parking area where Dano’s van was parked.
“Hey,” Starling said, appearing in the glow of the moon.
“Hey,” Emily said.
“What a night, huh?” Starling said, sitting next to Emily, hip to hip, her arm crossing Emily’s back. She took a swig of beer, the light of the moon swimming in her glassy eyes. “That’s some moon.”
“Whoa, I think The Man on the Moon just winked at us,” Starling said. She turned her glassy gaze onto Emily and broke into her laugh, “Ha. I’m pretty stoned.”
Emily smiled. William whined, reaching for the moon as if it was a toy out of reach. Emily bounced him on her legs and looked at the pretty stoned girl nestled at her side. Starling leaned toward Emily. Their lips met. Emily tasted the pot and beer, a sour-tin flavor that, when Starling pulled away, left a desirable aftertaste. They stared at one another for a moment.
Bert’s screaming, “Yeeehaaa,” jerked them from the moment. In the distance, Bert swung on the rope swing and plunged into the ocean with an explosive splash. The others, now visible in the moonlight, cheered.
“They’re going to kill themselves,” Emily said.
“We can only hope,” Starling said, brushing Emily’s hair over her ear. Starling saying, “Glenn’s away for the weekend, right?”
“Yeah.” Emily said, nuzzling into Starling’s touch. But then pulling away, saying, “He’s on a rafting trip.”
“Maybe it’s best if you had some company tonight,” Starling said with a flicker of coyness in her voice. She ran the back of her fingers down Emily’s face.
Emily closed her eyes, her head rocking. She pulled away again, looking off to the moon. “I don’t think that’s a good idea. I…”
“A girlfriend to keep you occupied?”
“No… I can’t.”
“Sorry,” Starling said. “Like I said, I’m pretty stoned.”
“It’s all right,” Emily said. She bounced her son on her lap.
“Ohhh shiiiit,” Ernie yelled, wobbling and falling from his perch, swinging, not letting go of the rope, and swinging back toward his friends. Danno pushed him back out over the water. Ernie let go and plunged into the black glass, ripples shimmering in the moonlight.
“What do they think about all this?” Emily said, nodding toward the men in the distance.
“Those idiots?” Starling said, nodding at her friends. “I wouldn’t tell those morons anything. In fact, I think Ernie’s got a crush on you, hoping for a torrid love affair with a marr…” Starling stopped and looked at the beer in her hand. She took a sip.
With distant, drunken calls, Danno swung on the rope and splashed into the water.
“Cops’ll be here soon,” Starling stated to her beer can. She finished it off in one draining quaff and leaned her forearms on her knees, the empty can dangling between her thighs. A long silence passed, broken only by the crickets chirping, and Starling’s friends’ calls.
“Then we should probably get going soon, right?” Emily said in a tone Starling called her, Nancy Reagan, Just Say No, Voice.
“Guess so.” Starling said, watching the men climb onto the beach.
“I’ve got to get William to bed,” Emily said.
“Uh-huh.” Starling said, standing from the rocks.
“Maybe you’d like to come over and watch Saturday Night Live or something,” Emily said. “You know, keep me occupied.” Starling looked down at Emily and cocked her head. Emily didn’t return the girl’s look as her son sat begging for the moon.
Continued in: Earworm: Part 30 — The Green Eyed Monster