Fiction · 04/04/2012

Moss

Charlie takes a shortcut by the park, which is draped with a green carpet on the north side, the only direction moss will grow in, and since we have time I ask him to pull over. He wants to get on toward Raleigh in case there’s a line to pick up our badges, which will yell Visitor like we’re there to tour the place, like anyone would want to see a place like that. And he does, he never argues, because a few years ago he went to some meetings where he sat on the floor Indian style and pictured his mind as a calm lake and learned to let go.

Last night’s rain has turned the moss a bright lime green. It’s so thick I want to lie down in it and forget why we’re going to Raleigh: for Sherry, and the men in the khaki uniforms who eavesdrop, and the glass with the handprints on it. There is glass at Eva’s house, too, a big picture window looking over Nag’s Head like a painting they forgot is there. Everything in the house is a different shade of beige, even her husband the orthodontist, whose only not-beige is the traveling bite marks on his hands, the closest we have to grandchildren. Charlie will joke that Eva’s the biter, but I don’t think it’s funny. Eva has always had that temper. It’s how come we see Sherry on Saturdays.

Eva and the orthodontist would not have this green in their house or worry that the moss carpet here is holey, like someone has gone to town, kicking it up. The neighborhood boys, I bet, wrestling and carrying on like Sherry and Eva did as girls, always going at it, their arms locked around each other, she listened to my record, she changed the channel and I was watching. When they were older, fistfuls of hair coming out so Charlie had to separate them. In the womb even, I could feel them settling scores, but now the house is quiet and Charlie’s mind is like a lake.

This moss is the ferny kind that climbs trees and looks good in the bottom of a glass bowl. It grew where I lived as a girl and made good roofs for gnome houses, but I didn’t collect it then or know that there are a million kinds of moss, sometimes the dark green pillows that keep to the shade, sometimes spiked like a hairdo, spreading so fast it will cover you if you lie still long enough. Like some people.

Folks think it’s funny how I keep moss all over my house, how it stretches back years in jelly jars and vases and my mother’s pink Depression glass. When the church women come wanting to pray with me, wanting to get involved, they look at it, and then they look at each other. Charlie says I’m going to keep collecting until it swallows the whole house so we can live snug like two bugs inside and there won’t be an outside.

I want to lie down in the moss, but we don’t miss a Saturday. I rescue what loose patches I am able to and put them in the Crisco can I keep in the car just for this, and Charlie offers to carry it to hurry me along. He asks where I’m going to put this. He’s thinking how we’re running out of windowsills and ashtrays and things, so I tell him I have a spare mason jar, I’ll make room in the kitchen window. It will do well there for years and years, probably outliving us, because if there’s one thing I know, it’s moss is resilient, not much you can do to ruin its chances. I tell him this, but I’m thinking how it would be nice if I could put it in a candy dish with a few of them little plastic Christmas deer and take it with us to Raleigh, but I know it would be confiscated, so I don’t say that.

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Emily Koon is a writer from Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College and has previously published work in Quarterly West and Monkeybicycle. She is working on a novel of grotesques and folk magic set in her native South Carolina and can be found blogging nervously at http://thebookdress.com.