She gave him the moon, on a night when crisp frost descended on the fields, and the first autumn fire crackled orange in the farmhouse hearth.
Marlee left Oscar sipping wine on their pinstriped couch. The fire, empty bottle and pizza box kept him company—remnants of their one-year anniversary celebration. When she returned, the kiss she laid on his ear was timid. The smile she offered, sweet. She crept around the old country furniture, clutching an object wrapped in a tea towel of embroidered cattle. The brown curls on their heads matched Marlee’s own.
‘What’s this?’ Oscar held still as a ’roo in headlights, nervous surprise on his face.
Marlee was too excited to notice anything other than the flames his eyes reflected, and the warm heat of love that wound between them. She let the tea towel tumble with a flourish.
‘Ta-da!’ Her smile was as broad as the fields were wide.
Oscar fumbled to catch the frame she thrust his way.
‘It’s a… certificate?’
‘Of ownership. Congratulations!’ Marlee sank beside him, hand on his knee. ‘Your newest acre of land: on the moon!’
Oscar stared at the elaborate letters. He glanced at Marlee, her expectant smile, and said the first thing that came to mind.
‘This can’t be legal?’
Marlee blushed. ‘I don’t know.’ Her peach lips trembled. ‘I was thinking of our first date. How we watched the stars on your ute, and it was a harvest moon, and you said I smelled like—’
‘—fresh dandelions,’ he laughed. ‘And you said that was the strangest flower you’d ever been compared to.’
‘Not that I’d been compared to many.’
‘Well, it was true.’ He leaned in, taking a breath. ‘Still is.’
He snatched a quick kiss, acquiesced as Marlee pushed him playfully away. Pretending to fall, he slid to the hardwood floor, hand to heart, certificate balanced on the table. She laughed at his theatrics. Straightened the frame.
‘But, what’s this?’ Oscar said, retrieving a long black box from beneath the rug-draped couch.
Marlee gasped a soft ‘Oh’ as she recognised the logo.
He grinned. ‘Open it, then.’
Marlee flipped the cardboard lid with trembling hands. She dug through the bubble wrap. And dug some more.
‘Where is it?’ Perplexed and disappointed, she turned to Oscar. More antics? She frowned.
‘I’ll show you,’ he said with a wink.
She followed him in silence from the lounge. Up the curving jarrah stairs. Through the night-dark hallway, soft steps padding to their room. Out onto the balcony where—set up in perfect position—there sat a telescope.
Her breath caught.
‘Look,’ said Oscar.
She bent to see the view. The full moon in the centre had a strange halo, a dark circle capturing its light. She checked the lens. A silver band lay there.
‘Marlee Wilson,’ Oscar said, knee to ground. ‘Will you marry me?’
He took her hand. She considered the sky.
Turned back with a smile.
After all, he’d given her the moon.
This story was entered into the Australian Writer’s Centre Furious Fiction competition for October 2020.
Check out the month’s winners, runners-up, and longlisted authors, along with the lovely lunar prompts we were given. Fantastic stories, as always.
Why not have a go yourself next time? A new competition opens on the first Friday of each month.