Chapter 18: The Moon
The Moon troubled Rosemary from the moment she saw it. It was Sunday night, and she’d just come home after another wonderful weekend with Fabricio. They’d agreed to have dinner together at least three nights that week—with the unspoken certainty of a sleepover afterward—but Rosemary had spend at least a couple nights at her own apartment. It all felt too natural, too fast, and after the big news about Indiana, she needed some space.
On the surface, The Moon was a lovely card: soft, cool light across a rippling sea. The full moon hanging in the sky above and, on the shore, a pair of howling wolves. Yet the overall effect of it was mysterious, moody, and somehow unsettling. Rosemary set it up alongside the others: a growing tapestry, telling her story through pictures. The story of her and Fabricio.
As the week progressed she didn’t feel drawn to any other cards, so she spent a little time with The Moon whenever she was at her kitchen table. She couldn’t help wondering what it meant, or where it was guiding her. On Tuesday night it was a full moon, so she decided to call Parsley about it.
“Well, in Tarot The Moon can mean many things,” Parsley said, thoughtful. “I don’t want to give you too much detail, because really the idea is that your subconscious already knows and is trying to communicate with you through the cards.”
“I know, but I need some help! Why does it make me feel so uncomfortable? It’s a beautiful card, but not a happy one, somehow.”
“You’re sensing it right. The Moon is a card of enormous power, high creative energy, intuition and magic, to the point of genius. But as the real moon waxes and wanes, so do the emotions of a person.” After a pause, she added, “It can also indicate secrets.”
Rosemary’s stomach dropped. Ah, so that’s it, she thought. That’s what’s making me feel so unsettled. But my secret is to protect Fabricio, not to hurt him. He doesn’t need to be worrying about me right now, when he’s so close to his dream.
“If you do have any secrets, honey, now might be the time to get rid of them,” Parsley suggested.
As usual, whenever there were secrets to share or gossip to pass on, Thyme was the perfect recipient. Wednesday was devoted to Fabricio; and to the UW Mystery Science Theater club, which led to much hilarity—and then great sex. Thursday night, though, Rosemary made a plan with Thyme for dinner.
“This had better be good,” he said, teasing in his usual droll voice. “You do know I cancelled a hot date with Bruce tonight, just for you? And we’d finally gotten to the point in our relationship when I was about to bust out the black leather and my riding crop.”
“Oh, Thyme, please!” Rosemary shrieked, swatting his hand and then clapping her hands over her ears. “Seriously! Have you ever heard of too much information?”
He chuckled, looking pleased with himself. Wiggling his eyebrows at her, he took a large sip of wine. It was an Italian restaurant, and they’d gotten a bottle of red to share alongside their lasagna.
“Okay, so, what’s the big news? I would try to guess, but you’d probably slap me again.”
“I wouldn’t call it news, really. Just… something I’m pondering. You know I’ve been applying to colleges, right?”
“Well, I got in to one. Columbia University.”
Thyme whistled. “Oooh, NYC. You can probably afford a broom closet there, or something. Maybe start a little “legal-in-Washington” marijuana business on the side.”
“Very funny. Aren’t you supposed to say ‘congratulations’ or something?”
“Sure. Congratulations. So, didya get in anywhere else?”
“Not that I’ve heard. Got a couple rejection letters in the mail this week, but otherwise no news.”
“Hey, at least you got one! Columbia’s supposed to be a good school. You could’ve told me that over the phone, though. So there’s another reason you took me out for dinner.”
“There is,” she said, with a sigh. “I didn’t tell Fabricio about my acceptance to Columbia.”
“Because he just got an unbeatable offer from Indiana U. Full ride, plus living expenses.”
Thyme’s eyebrows shot up. He nodded thoughtfully, sipping his wine. Rosemary loved that she didn’t need to tell him anymore; Thyme automatically connected with her thoughts, as she did with his. They’d figured one another out a long time ago.
“So what are you going to do?” he asked.
“I haven’t decided yet. I mean, I applied to Indiana too, but I haven’t heard back from them yet. And I don’t want to say no to Columbia, but if I say yes, it’s pretty much the end of me and Fabricio, isn’t it?”
“Not necessarily. There is such a thing as phone sex. Now better with Skype!”
Rosemary rolled her eyes. “I should have known you’d go straight to the sex thing.”
“Sister mine, I don’t go straight anywhere. But if you want my opinion, it’s always gonna involve sex somehow. That’s the secret to keeping any relationship together.”
“Yeah, I suppose you would think so.”
“And you disagree with me?”
“No. Not really.” She sighed. “I just wish I knew what decision to make right now.”
“That’s easy. You should tell him.”
Friday night she and Fabricio went to the movie theater and gorged themselves on overly-salty, fake-butter popcorn, mixed in with handfuls of Reeses peanut butter bites. Afterward they were too stuffed for sex, so they rolled into bed, groaning and giggling, rubbing their tummies. Rosemary turned her face to his as they lay side by side. She studied his features: his deep brown eyes with their thick lashes; his high, sharp cheekbones; sensuous lips and strong chin. He reached up to cradle her cheek. His thumb brushed against her skin, soft and dry, like a whisper.
“Rosemary?” he murmured.
“I love you. You know that, right?”
She snuggled close to him, tucking her head against his shoulder with a sigh. There, snug against his body, with the beat of his heart reverberating through his chest and into hers, she felt at home. Deeply and completely.
“I do,” she answered. Then she smiled, wondering if she might say the same thing to him soon, in response to a different, even more important question.
It rained all Saturday, which suited them both. They wasted the entire day, just eating, drinking, and making love. Rosemary knew, beyond a doubt, that this was the man she’d been waiting for. His youth, his physical differences, his economic situation; all those base, worldly concerns dissolved within the pure rightness of his love. She drank of this heady brew, took it in through all her pores, and was complete. In her mind, she was already envisioning their life together as a married couple, then parents; a growing family, busy energy leading to calm, tranquil retirement. Just a couple weeks ago she would have been terrified to find herself thinking this way, but not anymore. Even her most rebellious thoughts had to bow before the reality of her love.
Sunday, thankfully, was clear, with a surprisingly warm forecast for May. Rosemary peeked out the window and smiled. Fabricio watched her dreamily, still blurry-eyed from his early alarm. It was only 8 am; he had an ‘RA meeting thing’ to attend in half an hour.
“It’s beautiful out there!” exclaimed Rosemary with childish delight. “Let’s do something outside!”
“Wanna do a walk along the waterfront? Pretend we just got off a cruise? Act like tourists for a while?”
“That would be perfect! Or… what about the Olympic Sculpture Park? It’s right near the SAM, and it’s been ages since I’ve been.”
“You know, I’ve been here four years and I’ve still never done that. It’s a date.”
Rosemary grinned, flitted over to him, and bent back his head in a giddy kiss. He moaned into her mouth, meeting her with his tongue. His arms went around her, then slid down her back to cup her ass. She wiggled flirtatiously, nipping him as she pulled away.
“Don’t you have a work thing this morning?”
“Don’t remind me,” he groaned. “It’s the last thing I want to do. Thank God this is the last quarter. Soon I won’t have to deal with this shit anymore.”
“Don’t be lazy. Anyway, I’ll be right here, waiting for you.” She flopped out on the bed, wriggling and spreading out as much as possible, pushing him to the very edge. With a saucy grin, she pulled the covers up to her chin and snuggled deep inside. “So while you’re at your meeting you can think about me, all toasty in bed, the whole thing to myself, snug as a bug in a rug…”
“Oh, don’t make me spank you again.”
She batted her eyes at him, giggling. He laughed, shaking his head as he hauled himself out of bed and into his chair. With a yawn, he rolled off to the closet, grabbed an outfit, then headed out for a morning shower and a way-too-early RA meeting.
When he returned an hour and a half later, Rosemary was up and dressed, making instant oatmeal for breakfast in Fabricio’s little electric hot pot. He smiled when she handed him a cup of tea and a conciliatory cookie.
“Thanks,” he said. His voice sounded a little distant, like his mind was on something else.
“You okay?” asked Rosemary, absently stirring the oatmeal.
“Yeah, sure. Just still not totally awake, you know? Some of us didn’t get to sleep in till ten.”
“Hey! I’ve been up since nine forty-five, thank you very much!”
He still didn’t sound totally himself, but Rosemary chalked it down to the morning meeting and ignored it. They ate their oatmeal on the bed, unhurried, in companionable quiet. Outside, the day got only more beautiful. It was almost summery, with a clear sky and puffy white clouds floating here and there, yet with the vibrant floral extravagance of late spring. Rosemary couldn’t have imagined a better time to walk in the sculpture garden.
The Olympic Sculpture Park was an oasis is the center of busy downtown Seattle. Swathes of spring green grass cut through the grayness and shiny steel of high rises. On a clear day like this one, the mountains were stunning. Rising beyond the water like sentinels, ancient and bold, the far Olympics looked close enough to touch. Ferries chugged back and forth across the Puget Sound, along with the occasional cruise ship or pleasure boat. The incredible natural beauty of it made Rosemary gasp aloud.
“What a perfect day! I’ve never seen the mountains so clear!”
“We lucked out. Days like this happen, what, maybe four times a year?”
“In a good year. But when it’s like this, I truly believe there’s no place on Earth as beautiful as here.”
Fabricio’s mood lightened as they meandered through the park. It was well paved and smooth, easy for a wheelchair, so he rolled along at Rosemary’s natural walking pace. The sculpture collection was mostly modern; everything from a huge, abstract red iron bird to a gigantic human head, rising from the grass like a strange tower. As corny as it was, Rosemary’s favorite sculpture was a half-buried house. It looked just like an ordinary house and roof, except the walkway passed it right at attic level. Kids scampered over the roof tiles and peered in the windows, playing pretend games and daring one another to jump down.
Feeling childlike herself, Rosemary left Fabricio and leapt up onto the roof. She waved at him, grinning, and he raised his hand in return. By now he was smiling again, relaxed, with the sea breeze ruffling his hair. Rosemary’s throat tightened as she watched him watch her, a few feet away, stuck in his chair while she gamboled on the roof. She loved him. At that moment, surrounded by natural beauty, bathed in sunlight and ripe with the deepest emotion she’d ever known, Rosemary felt like life was a marvelous gift.
Then she heard a voice that brought her crashing down, hard.
“Hey, Rosie.” It was Josh. She glanced up and saw him approaching from the other direction. He smiled, and although it was the same Hollywood charm she’d fallen for, this time it looked menacing. “Didn’t expect to see you around.”
“Hi. Josh,” she said. Hurriedly, Rosemary scooted off the house and made her way to Fabricio’s side. He said nothing, but raised an eyebrow at her inquisitively. “This is Josh,” she explained in a rush. “The guy I was seeing before…uh, you.” She faltered there, remembering that in fact she’d kind of been seeing Josh and Fabricio at he same time. And they both knew it.
Josh’s smile widened. He tightened his arm around the pretty woman at his side. She was slim and quite petite, Asian—Vietnamese, maybe—with perfectly applied makeup. Her clothes set off her lithe figure to perfection, and she’d clearly dressed to impress. A sudden memory came to Rosemary, an echo of the guy at the sex club: “So once again you brought another hot Asian girl here to play.” She began to feel sick, realizing that Josh definitely went for a certain type, and for a while she had been it.
“This is Tiffany,” he said pointedly.
Rosemary nodded in a noncommittal way. “Nice to meet you,” she mumbled.
“So, who’s this guy?” said Josh, jutting his chin at Fabricio.
Nonplussed, Fabricio rolled a bit closer and held out his hand. “I’m her boyfriend. Fabricio O’Connor. Good to finally meet you.”
Josh hesitated a moment, then finally took the offered hand. He shook perfunctorily, as if he couldn’t wait to get away from Fabricio’s grip. To his credit, Fabricio held on tight, until Josh glanced in his eyes for the first time. Then, finally, he released.
“I knew Rosie had another… friend… but I wasn’t expecting someone like you,” Josh said.
“What do you mean by that?” said Rosemary, defensive now. She sensed this going downhill quickly.
“I mean, after our adventures together, I would have thought you’d go for someone… more mobile, I guess.”
“I get around,” said Fabricio with a shrug.
Rosemary’s cheeks burned red. “It’s really none of your business, Josh.” She started to turn away, planning to make a dignified escape.
Tiffany ruined it, though. “It’s so sad that you’re in a wheelchair,” she said. Her voice fell somewhere between acid and syrup, an unnerving combination.
“What do you and Rosie do together, anyway?” added Josh, quick to turn the knife. “Me and Tiff, we go on tons of hikes, check out concerts and clubs, dancing. The other day, we just hopped on the Bainbridge ferry and walked all around the other side. Pretty awesome. So freeing not to have to take a car, or even a bike. Just getting around on our own two feet Four feet,” he amended, nuzzling Tiffany’s neck. She giggled, cutting her eyes sharply at Rosemary.
Oh my god, she’s jealous. Crazy bitch! I clearly dumped him already, didn’t you figure that out?! Furious, Rosemary spun on her heel and glared at Josh with all her fury.
“Shut up, Josh. Quit acting like such an asshole. I thought you at least had more pride than that.”
“Oh, I’ve got my pride, baby. And everything else that goes with it.”
And with that, to her shock and disgust, Josh grabbed his crotch and waggled it in Fabricio’s face. Rosemary couldn’t even react, she was so appalled. She stood there, gaping, unable to believe what had just happened.
With a laugh, Josh tugged Tiffany closer and started walking away. “Have fun with your gimp boyfriend, Rosie. C’mon, Tiff. I did tell you we’re headed to Portland next weekend, right?”
Rosemary stared after them, furious, hurt and bewildered. For several long moments Fabricio neither spoke nor moved. Then, without a word, he whirled his chair around and started away. Rosemary scuttled along behind. Not a word passed between them until they reached the end of the park, almost ten minutes later. There, Fabricio pulled into an empty park bench, spun around, and faced her.
“Please tell me that is not the guy you were fucking.”
Rosemary’s cheeks flamed again. She felt horrible after the way Josh had behaved; the mere thought of all those times they’d slept together made her almost nauseous. Swallowing her bile, she nodded, once.
“Wow. I thought better of you.”
“So did I,” Rosemary whispered. Shame was clogging her throat.
“That guy is an unredeemable asshole. But he’s right.”
She glanced up then, shocked. Fabricio’s face was a hard mask. She’d never seen him like this; his eyes were narrowed, lips pressed so tight they formed a line. If she’d never seen him before, she would have hurried to get away, because he looked downright menacing.
“What do you mean?” she asked, tremulously.
“Rosemary, I can’t walk!” His was a controlled shout, but she shrank beneath it nonetheless. “I’ll never be able to walk, don’t you understand? I won’t ever hike Machu Picchu with you, or stroll up the staircases of the Louvre, or explore the Amazon rainforest, or climb to the top of the Duomo in Florence. Don’t you get it? I limit you! Being with me limits you!”
“It doesn’t,” she protested. “Fabricio, I love you! Being with you is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. You don’t limit me at all!”
His eyes bored into her like daggers.
“Why didn’t you tell me, then?”
“Tell you what?” Although, with a sinking feeling, Rosemary began to realize what he must know. The Moon was revealing her secrets in cold, nocturnal light. In her mind, wolves began to howl.
“About Columbia. I know you got in. Thyme told me. Well, actually it was Bruce. We passed on campus this morning and he asked me to say congratulations.” Fabricio chuckled bitterly. “I was sure surprised, since I had no idea why!”
“I didn’t want to take away from your great news,” Rosemary admitted. “You were so excited about Indiana, and rightly so. It’s an amazing opportunity, and I couldn’t let you rethink it, just because of me.”
“So you turned down an offer from one of the top universities, because of me.” Fabricio took a long breath. He was obviously struggling to contain his temper. “Rosemary, that’s fucked up.” He let out the breath painfully. “I love you more than I reasonably should, since we’ve only been together for a few weeks, but… I really thought… I actually felt… like you were for me.”
“I am,” said Rosemary. It sounded more like begging.
“No. You can’t spend your life tethered to someone like me. Sacrificing what’s best for yourself, because of my limitations. My disability. Don’t you see? This is just the beginning. Next we’d have to find accessible apartments, or houses, and who knows where we’d find those, or how much they’d cost. And there’s all the medical bills, the physical therapy. If we ever want to travel, we’ll have to research it for months, make sure all the pieces fit together, that I can get around. You can forget about a spontaneous trip to Kenya, for sure. Or even Japan. Forget about buying a little piece of property in the country.” His voice cracked as he spoke, and every word felt like a needle in Rosemary’s heart. “Do you really want to spend the rest of your life planning around all of that?”
“Only if it means I get to spend it with you,” she answered, her voice soft and subdued.
Fabricio’s rage seemed to be spent. Instead he looked profoundly, heartbreakingly sad. Slowly, he shook his head.
“No, Rosemary. Stop. It has to stop.”
He turned and began to roll away. Rosemary reached for him, crying out.
He glanced over his shoulder. His eyes glistened with unshed tears, but she knew he wouldn’t let them show. For herself, Rosemary was crying freely. Her cheeks felt sticky from the rivulets running down them.
“I’m going home now, Rosemary,” he said.
She shook her head furiously, but he had already turned back. A sob escaped her, and she clapped both hands over her mouth to hold it back as he wheeled himself away. Rooted in place, she watched, shoulders shaking, through teary eyes. He went all the way through the gate and off down the street. Never once did he look back.