Story Time for March

Luna's Bad Day: It's the details that bite back

It’s 17 March, the third Thursday in March. That means it’s time for a story.

Today, newsletter subscribers receive Luna’s Bad Day in their inboxes. Luna made her appearance in Midnight Bites and today, she’s having a bad day, so is everyone else.

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Luna’s Bad Day

“Where are my keys?” mumbled Eugene as she shifted the cushions and blankets on the living room couch. “Luna!” she shouted and looked up to see Luna leaning against the kitchen counter watching her. “Have you seen my keys?”

“Nope,” Luna said. She straightened and turned to face the narrow staircase leading to the closed door of the computer room where Eugene did her tracing and hacking for CC. “You probably left them in your workroom. Want me to help you look up there?”

Eugene dashed past her, taking the old, narrow stairs two at a time. “You know the answer,” she said and closed the door.

Luna sighed and stared at the closed door. She liked the painting Eugene had done of the wolf’s face on the door, but she didn’t like the four scars turning red to black across its face or the meadow green eyes, one with a scar that turned its green to a sickly white, staring at her when she stared up at the door. Or the way the teeth glistened as though they were ready to bite. It didn’t help that the old servant’s stair was dimly lit or that the old door rattled when anyone walked on the stairs. Eugene said the painting was a warning to other wolves. Luna thought it was meant for her; nevertheless, she liked the painting.

Shrugging, she turned and poured coffee into the large red mug covered with daisies her brother had given her for Christmas. Holding the mug to her nose, she breathed in the coffee beans with their hints of vanilla, chocolate, and earth. Her mouth watered. She giggled. Last year, she didn’t like coffee. This year, since she’d stopped working in the family coffee shop every day, she loved a good cup of coffee sweetened with honey and just the right amount of cream.

Opening the refrigerator in the tiny kitchen, she laughed, hearing Eugene stomp around her little room. Something fell on the floor and she yelled, “Damn it all to hell! Where are my keys?” 

Luna stopped laughing as the stench of rancid cream slapped her in the face, running into her nose, down her throat, and into her gut. She slammed the door closed as the stench churned her stomach, shooting acid into her throat.

“Luna,” moaned Eugene, opening the door. “What did you kill?”

“I bought cream yesterday. Package must have been mislabeled,” Luna answered between gags.

“Don’t leave it in the fridge. Get it outside. I still can’t find my keys,” Eugene grumbled, jumping down the stairs and returning to her search in the living room.

Luna steeled her resolve. She stood still, studying the door to the refrigerator, imagining where the offensive cream sat on the top shelf. At last, she took a deep breath, opened the door, grabbed the thin carton, and ran out the back door. Outside, she could breathe with only hints of rancid cream drifting into her nose.

“What now?” she asked no one. She stepped, almost tripping, down the steps and into the fenced area surrounding the garbage cans for the houses on this block. All the houses in the area were also businesses, and since the lockdown began, few cars sat in the small parking area. It was the first time in weeks Luna was glad for the lockdown. Normally, despite the signs, someone always managed to park between the door and the trash cans, blocking easy access. Today, she had a smooth run to them.

The trash cans, however, sat so stuffed their lids would not close. She lifted the lid to the least-full can and set the container on top, letting the lid plop down, then jumped backwards as rancid cream squished out of the container, barely missing her. The smell billowed over the wooden fence. She grimaced and hoped it would rain. Soon.

Satisfied with her diligent effort to keep the kitchen clean, she went back into the house. Her cup sat on the counter. “Eugene, want a cup of coffee? I can’t drink it without cream.”

“Thanks,” Eugene said, grabbing the cup as she walked into the tiny kitchen. “You should learn to drink it black, like me. I’m going to check my room. Can’t believe I can’t find my keys.”

Luna sighed as the aroma from the coffee pot tempted her. Face downcast, she followed Eugene through the swinging door between the kitchen and the reception room. Luna liked her large old-fashioned desk sitting between CC’s office and Mike’s. She’d thought CC and Mike had offered her the job in order to monitor her, but when CC showed her the desk and computer, how to access files and use the phone, and let her talk to clients, she realized she was needed. She enjoyed the work and liked to speculate what her days would be like when Mike returned from his vacation with Stanly. They’d surprised no one when they announced they’d married over the Christmas break. Then they’d taken a trip to New Zealand, but no one foresaw the pandemic keeping them in New Zealand.

Eugene’s long legs took the stairs in the once-grand staircase leading to the second floor two at a time. Eugene ran everywhere, never walked, unless she was sleeping. Only then was she still. Luna shook her head, laughing at Eugene but admiring her wolf-like grace and dexterity.

“Ow!” shouted Eugene.

Luna looked up at the landing. “You okay?”

“Just stubbed my toe on a chair leg,” Eugene said, sliding the chair next to the table of flowers on the landing into place.

Luna’s computer alarm dinged. Before she reached her computer, Eugene leaned over the railing. “Luna, you set out the milk and cookies last night, didn’t you?”

Luna’s eyes widened. She opened her mouth, thinking of the best answer, then nodded. “Of course. It’s time for my call with Mike.”

She sat down and clicked the link in the pink box on her calendar. The screen flashed black, then blue, before the calendar returned and Mike’s face smiled at her.

“Hi Luna. How’s it going?”

*****

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