over the moon and back again

over the moon and back again

A Story by ctwood
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A girl goes looking for someone from her past...

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over the moon and back again

 

            My body was sore from the two hour drive from Littleton, but I had finally made it. I knew my mom was going to kill me when I got home for just taking off, but I didn’t care. It was snowing. Having lived in Texas all my life, snow is something I have not seen much of, only twice to be exact. Snow is the most incredible thing in the world and the most beautiful. It has a way of making everything it touches perfect. There is this thin layer of heavenly powder, underneath which all the imperfections and complications of other natural things, like roots, are hidden.

That was pretty much how my life worked back then. On the first layer, I had this atomic family complete with the mom, dad, and older brother, the snow, but further underneath, at the roots, things got complicated. For example, my grandpa isn’t even technically related to me. He married my grandma after my mom’s biological dad left, but they have since been divorced. Still, my grandpa is my grandpa, and neither of us need blood to bind us. We love each other. Snow maybe a simple beauty, but I believe, there is some beauty to be seen in all the loops and twists of the roots. Despite this, though, I was at the university that day.

As the beautiful white crystals fell all around me, I stood in front of the building labeled Cain. My heart raced and my head spun. My body didn’t even register the cold. I looked down at the piece of paper clutched in my hand and read its words, yet again.

Lorence Hill

Professor of Astronomy

Texas A&M University

Office 413

With that knowledge and a deep breath, I took my first step towards the door, only to stop on my second. What was I thinking? I can’t just barge into this man’s office. What if he’s with a student? I should have called. So once again, I stood. The snow clouds were beginning to part, but, surprisingly, the little frozen stars managed to remain on the Texas ground. Snow is like a rare jewel where I come from, and although these flakes were still fresh, I knew that they would soon begin to melt and fade away. You can’t save snow, no matter how hard you try. It is one of those things meant to touch your life for only the briefest moment.

            I had a choice to make. Either back to my car or on to the office of Lorence Hill. I stepped forward, but once inside I hesitated again. Directly to my right upon entering the doors of the Cain Building were stairs. Office 413, I could only assume, was on the fourth floor, four flights of stairs. It was a mountain with only mystery at its peak. Life would be extremely boring if you didn’t throw in a mountain every now and again, but a mountain can be one hell of a pain in the neck. With a sigh, I began my climb.

            The outside wall that enclosed the stair case was made of glass, but the cold weather was causing the window to fog up, separating me from the rest of the world by a white blur. At the landing of each flight of stairs, I’d find myself pausing and looking out the window wall into a world turned magical by the snow, reminding me of another time when the world had gone white. The first time I ever saw snow, I was about four or five. It’s a blurry memory, but it’s there…

 

            I remember I was wearing a red coat with a back fur trim. I didn’t have any mittens, though. I mean, it was Texas. My mom, because of this, didn’t want to let me play in the snow.

            “Just look at it, Izzy. If you play with it, your hands will freeze,” she said. It was then that my grandpa came to my rescue with a pair of his long socks in his hand.

            “Here,” he said, kneeling down on one knee to be at eye level with me. “Put these on your hands. They’ll work just as good as mittens.” He smiled at me, and I was ecstatic when my mom nodded in approval. I later thanked my grandpa by hitting him with my very first snowball.

            “Oh, you shouldn’t have done that.” Then, he charged after me. I ran giggling until I couldn’t breathe anymore. Once he caught me, he proceeded to become the ‘tickle monster.’ I slipped in my attempt at escape and Grandpa, in order to avoid stepping on me, fell over me, but this only threw us into another fit of laughter. I rolled over on top of him, and he lifted me into the air and shook me a little.

            “I’m flying, Grandpa.”

            “You are? Oh no! Now you’re crashing.” He released me, letting me fall a little before catching me right above his chest. We rested then, breathing heavily. Mom was watching from the porch, but it was just me lying safely on my grandpa’s chest in the middle of our snow covered yard. I leaned forward and whispered in his ear.

            “I love you, Grandpa.”

            “You do?”

            “Yep!”

            “How much do you love me, baby girl?” I pretended to think about it for a while.

            “Ummmm, this much,” And I spread my arms out as far as they could go.

            “Only that much?” he joked.

I thought again and said, “No, I love you this much AND over the moon and back again.” He laughed.

“Now that’s a lot of love.”

 

I don’t remember much else about that day. It was white everywhere. At least, it’s that way in my memory. All white everywhere, and despite the freezing temperature, that memory is always warm to me. The second and last time I ever saw snow, that day, I was 17 and a senior in high school, worrying my mom sick because I didn’t go home straight after the last bell. That memory, however, is not quite as warm.

Eventually, I made it to the fourth floor. Once there, I slowly made my way down the hall. With each office, the numbers grew larger. With each number that grew larger, my heart beat faster. 410, 411, 412. I stopped. The door to office 413 was the only one open. The pounding in my chest had gotten to a point where I couldn’t breathe. The world around me was beginning to spin. There were no windows around for me to see the wondrous snow outside. Then, my spinning world was snapped still by a loud bang from the frightening office followed by a string of curse words that pulled me, finally, into the door frame of office 413.

“Who are you?” I asked when I found myself looking at a guy in his early 20s buzzing about the office. “You’re not Lorence Hill.” The boy glanced at me, but never stopped his desperate search for something.

“No, I am not. I’m his TA. And you?” I didn’t really know how to answer that question.

“A friend.” Lame, so I deflected. “What are you looking for?” He laughed.

“The nutty professor you’re looking for, supposedly, wrote some measurements and positions on some sort of scrap paper, and has now ordered me to find it in this trash heap.”

The guy had one thing right. Office 413 was a mess and that’s putting it nicely. There were three tables lining the walls and a single desk making a ‘L’ with the table on the left. Each of the tables had stacks and not-stacks of random items covering every inch. There were also boxes stuffed with things filling up the space beneath the tables. The desk looked similar except it had a computer and a half empty coffee cup adding to its clutter. The drawers in the desk were even too stuffed to close completely. There were also a few stray stacks of paper and books randomly spread along the floor for good measure. The room was simply chaos.

“Good luck with that.” I said making him laughed. “You wouldn’t happen to know where I could find Professor Hill? I really need to talk to him today. Now, actually.”

“Yeah,” he answered to my relief. “He’s on the roof. He told me he was going to leave the door propped open for me, so you should be able to walk right up.”

“Thanks.” I said and began my trudge up to the roof.

By the time I reached the threshold of the rooftop, the sun was no more than a pink and gold strip on the horizon and the clouds had all drifted away. My attention, however, was pulled from the sunset by an older man with silver hair who was fiddling with a telescope. That’s my grandfather, I thought. Not Grandpa, who I had shared my first snow with. No, my biological grandfather, who I had not seen since my first birthday, who I couldn’t even remember. I had forgotten to breathe. Apparently, I had also forgotten to prop the door open because the wind caught it and slammed it shut. Lorence Hill looked up at me, and I froze completely in fear.

“Come here, come here. Quickly!” he gestured me towards him. Absolutely perplexed, I obeyed.

“Look, look through the telescope first.” I did and was surprised to see large glowing streaks falling toward the earth. Pulling away from the telescope and looking up to the sky with the naked eye, I smiled.

“They’re falling stars.” I said.

“Ahh, both correct and incorrect.”

“How’s that?” I asked.

“Well, falling stars are what this phenomenon is known as,” he explained, never once looking away from nature’s light show before him. “But they are not actually falling stars. They are not stars at all. When the universe was created most solid substances like rocks or dust particles were used to form planets like Earth. However, some debris remains just wandering out there in space, and every now and then, that debris wanders too close to Earth. When this happens, it gets sucked in by the planet’s gravity, but when it hurtles through our atmosphere, the debris catches fire creating the glow which got them labeled falling ‘stars’.”

“Wow,” I said. “Can I still wish on it?” He laughed.

“You could always give it a try. Me, I always wish for a trip over the moon and back again.” I turned my gaze to his profile as he continued to admire the cosmic activity in the sky.

“Over the moon and back again?” I smiled. “I thought you weren’t suppose to tell people what you wished for.”

It was then that he first actually looked at me. When he lowered his eyebrows in confusion, a straight, solitary line formed between his eyes just like mine did when I was confused.

“Who are you?” he asked. I opened my mouth, but at first no words came out. Standing there with my mouth gapping, I began to panic, but finally I managed a few audible words.

“I’m Izzy. Izabel. Jones. Izabel Jones. My name is Izabel Jones.” Nothing seemed to register with him. “Mary’s daughter. I’m Mary’s daughter. Mary Jones’ daughter. Or Hill. You’d know here as that. Mary Hill. Maybe.” There was a moment we just stood there in silence, but in that moment, something past behind his eyes. Hazel eyes that reflected the colors around them. My eyes.

“Well,” the moment past and he spoke. “That wasn’t too terribly intelligent.”

My mouth opened and closed but nothing came out. No words. No breath. I felt the line form between my eyes just before I finally managed speech.

“I’m your granddaughter.”

“I know.” He said. “I managed to extract that much information from that incoherent babble. However, perhaps, you would like to try again. Maybe this time in complete sentences.”

I stood there in disbelief and he… he was just playing with his stupid telescope not even looking at me. The roof beneath me seemed to give away. I felt like I was one of those pieces of random space rock, falling to Earth, burning up in this new place. A falling star like those my grandfather seemed more interested in than me. I wanted my real grandpa, the one I shared that first snow with. My grandpa who had been there for me every day of my life even though he never had to be. That grandpa loved me a whole lot more than any stupid falling stars. That grandpa loved me over the moon and back again. The man before me was my blood that was why I sought him out, that was why I drove the two hours from Littleton as soon as school let out, that was why my mom had probably already called the cops looking for me. It was dark now, and my body finally felt the cold. I was confused, but even more, I was angry.

“I’m your granddaughter.”

“Yes, I got that. Now don’t get repetitive.”

  “I’m your granddaughter,” he began to interrupt again, but I forged on. “I’m your granddaughter, but I have a grandpa. I don’t need a grandpa.” Finally, he stopped fiddling with his toy.

“Then why the hell are you here? Do you need money? If you do, maybe you should read a newspaper now and then. Government is cutting universities’ funding, so universities are cutting professors’ wages.” I physically felt sick because of his words.

“How… How can you, possibly, think that I’m here for money?”

“Well, you’re here at, what? 14? And-“

“I’m 17.”

“Even more to the point. You’re here at 17 when I haven’t seen you since you were a baby.”

“That wasn’t my choice. You weren’t there. I’m only 17. How was I suppose to find you before now?”

“You weren’t. Now leave.”

I stood there staring at the silver haired, hazel eyed man. I had traveled two hours and 16 years to find him. I loved him without even knowing him, and he was telling me to leave. Without permission, tears escaped my eyes. Shaking with anger and crying in pain, I was lost for what to do next. This was not how the fantasy went.

“I have a grandpa-“

“You said that al-“

“Stop!” I yelled. “Just listen for crying out loud.” I took a deep breath and continued. “I have a grandpa. I don’t need a grandpa. But you… you’re my blood. I came from you, and I deserve the chance to know you. I should have a voice in that.” He just stood there shaking his head. It was dark now, really dark, and the clouds were coming back and bringing the wind. He smoothed his eyebrows in frustration, just like I do.

“Not very well formed logic there. You see, it leaves the opening to me having a voice in it, therefore if-“
            “My God!” I screamed. “Are you kidding me? This isn’t logical. This is emotional.” We stood there in silence once more. We stood there for a while before I finally gave up, but I did give up.

“You know, my biggest fear, when I first started looking for you, was that I started too late. I was scared that I’d find out you had died. I was terrified that you’d died and I would never get the chance to know you.” The tears dried on my cheeks, but my heart ached. “Maybe… maybe it would have been better if you had been dead.”

I turned and ran. The trip down the mountain was much quicker, but not any easier. I slipped and stumbled down the stairs and through the door into my winter wonderland that had been transformed into a dreary iceland. There was still this thinnest layer of snow on top of the precarious ice, but the people of College Station were taking full advantage of even this strangling bit of miracle. Some group of college kids were trying their best to make a snow man, which was turning out more brown than white because of the mud beneath the snow. Others were busy with a snowball battle. They were happy and playing in the snow.

 

© 2011 ctwood


Author's Note

ctwood
This is another story I wrote for a creative writing class. It had to be "a stranger rides into town" story and at least one character ha to have something to do with a university.

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Added on July 25, 2011
Last Updated on July 27, 2011
Tags: family, long lost