Crescent Moon

9:01 p.m.

My family never spent much time together in the same room. We weren't a unit or a team. But just now, when twisting the wax off a chopstick I'd used to dip the wick of a candle I'd blown out, I was tugged by a memory, and it comforted me.

There was a hurricane. It was dark. We sat at the table, candles all around. I don't remember if there was a fire in the fireplace or not, but I do remember it was in the colder months. Maybe it was a blizzard. I don't know.

My father sat at the head of the table, poring over the mothwing pages of his bible. My sister was to my right, drawing, probably. She had a gift for that. My brother, macho as he was, had flipped open his leatherman and was whittling a heart of soap, cradling it in his palm.

What was he whittling? I can't remember. This memory is pressed into me like a thumbprint, but when I look closer the only thing I see better is the gaps. But he finished it, and showed Meredith, and maybe she said something silly. It broke-- he dropped it, or it split as he held it-- and he resumed his craft. I don't remember what I was doing. My homework? I doubt it. Maybe I was trying to read a book. What I remember is what Trevor turned the soap into the second time: a tiara, small and light blue. A crescent moon that could fit into the palm of my hand.

The four of us, maybe more, sat at the table in calm silence. Candlelight from all different sources. The purple beeswax candles. The white ones of varying stubbiness with the drips down their sides. We'd put some in the chandelier, but had taken them down for the hazard. It was peaceful, like that scene at the end of Captain Fantastic. When I see it now, that's what I wish for. That's what I'll always wish for, and I didn't realize that I'd had it, once.

I felt proud to be so self-sufficient, even then. I felt proud that our water and stove and heat didn't change that much without electricity. I felt proud to be doing something so real, and I felt proud of not being scared. It felt like me, and our family, and my dad, and my pride, and us doing things the better way when the rest of the world did things wrong.

My favorite part of this memory is the wind. It came in strong, strong gusts, and they rushed against the house and through it, somehow. We could hear it bash against the walls outside, and we could hear it howl. The howling is what surprised me: it was a ghostly, hollow moan like what I'd heard only in sound effects and movies before. The house swayed with the wind-- I felt it move-- and it was like the house was breathing, crying with the wind. Leaning into it and forgetting us. It could come down at any moment, I knew, and I should've been scared, but what I felt was just a new awareness of the fragility of it all. And us inside it. Like we were in the belly of some creature who would do its best out there, and that was it. It was surprise, and acceptance, and feeling like a part of something for better or for worse.

I miss that moment, now. Long for it, maybe. It wasn't this electric moment of great joy, but it didn't have to be. Just the group of us, sitting at the candlelit table, because to leave was to go upstairs and go to bed and we didn't quite want to do that just yet.