To my sister,
Did you know that every full moon has a name?
Of course you did, I think you're the one who told me that. Tonight's has a name, too; they call it the Sturgeon Moon. Kind of a ridiculous name, if you ask me. Still, no matter what we call it, it will still be there, that giant white orb in the sky.
Full moons are hard for me. Every moon is, but full moons are the worst. Ever since you left, they haven't been the same. I remember when you used to look up in the sky during that one night a month – you always knew which one – and pointed at it, your eyes wide in wonder. I swear those blue orbs were little moons themselves. "Do you see it?" you would ask me, and every time I would pretend like I hadn't. You caught on to that game pretty quick.
When mom and dad died, it was the moon that made you feel better, not me. That first night when I thought you were crying in bed, I came in to check on you. I assumed you had wanted to be alone, but I was hurting, too. I knocked and my heart nearly jumped out of my mouth when you didn't answer. But you were okay, you had only wandered out onto the roof. I joined you and we just watched the moon together.
We had to grow up fast, you and I, faster than any kids our age should have. I was scared. Not scared that we didn't have mom and dad anymore – I was sad, but I wasn't scared of that. I was scared that I wouldn't be able to look after my little sister. In the end, I feel like it was more you looking after me.
That first Christmas was hard. It was always mom's favourite holiday. We would groan and complain as she played Christmas music all day, decorating the house with things from when she was your age. Dad would always come home early from work, just because we asked him to. Then we would watch old black and white movies with them, until mom fell asleep. On Christmas Eve we would look at the moon, too. You were convinced that one day you would see the shadow of a sleigh and reindeer fly past it.
But that first Christmas was nothing like the others. I tried, I really did. I put up the decorations, but I didn't do it as high as mom. I tried to get home early from work, but I needed to pay the bills. I needed to make sure that the Christmas lights stayed on every night, little stars that were twinkling in front of you. I tried to find the best old Christmas movies, but I didn't know them like mom and dad did.
I wanted to get you everything on your list, but I also wanted us to eat.
The second Christmas was better, though. I had been saving all year, and the tree was surrounded with all the presents you could ever want. The decorations were up, and I even booked time off work. I asked all the adults there which movies we should watch, and I bought them all for us. That Christmas was the first time I think I had seen you smile since they had left. I wanted it to be Christmas forever, to just live with the happy kid that I loved and remembered.
I miss you.
And then it was January, the new year. I was driving you to a restaurant to try and get that smile back, the one that had disappeared since Christmas. It was such a bright night, the full moon was almost as bright as the sun! The January moon. The Wolf Moon. I made some stupid joke, something I thought might make you laugh, and looked to see if it did. I shouldn't have taken my eyes off the road. But I just wanted to see you laugh! The moon watched us as the car slid on a patch of ice, turning over three times, they said, before it caught fire. I tried to reach for you, but I couldn't move, I could barely see. All I could see was the full moon.
It was the bite that woke me up. I don't know how long I had been out for, but I remember something sharp digging into me. I didn't see what did it, but it didn't matter. All I could think about was finding you. I thrashed and I kicked, I called your name until my throat was dry. I wanted to run and try to find you, but someone big held me down. His arms were hairy, that's all I can remember. Then it all went black.
Every time I look at a full moon, it hurts. I see your face, your beautiful, smiling face, staring back at me. I want to be happy, but it isn't your real face. It just hurts so much.
My eyes scream.
My skin feels like it's on fire.
My bones feel like they are going to snap, all of them.
Every time I see the full moon, I want to howl at it. And every time I see it, I feel the bite again. The cold bite of the steel needle as I push it into my arm. It takes away the pain of the moon, if only just a little.
It is a full moon tonight, my sister.
I miss you.