“Remember, Pol? In San Diego? When we went to the beach and a pelican plunge-dove two-feet in front of us under the full moon? Artemis is talking to her twin, Apollo, who despises the name given to her by overzealous Greek scholar parents. They’re sitting around a burning fire pot with Pol’s husband, Lou, and Artemis` partner, Edward. It’s New Year’s Eve. Because Artemis doesn’t speak up that often, and is known as the finest archer in Southern California, the others are listening closely. “Remember how I told you about the mysterious spark of light Edward and I experienced in our living room?”

“Yeah, right,” Lou interjects, with a wink at Edward who quickly lowers his gaze. Both men profess vehemently to be realists, refusing to acknowledge any hint of belief in a world beyond that which can be explained by hard science.

Although Artemis feels irritation at Edward’s lack of backing her story, she ignores the urge to berate him and focuses on her sister. Pol arrived at their house obviously upset. Artemis is attempting to change her mood. “Remember, Pol, how the pelican flew so close to our heads? How you picked up a feather and I stuck it in my hat?”

But Pol is focused on Lou whom she is convinced made another inappropriate comment. Thank God, he helps with the kids. She can’t cope half the time.

Pol reaches for the metal tray of chestnuts, startling Lou. Lou is in his mid-forties and wears his hair short. He’s a rock climber, a cyclist, an avid golfer, a perfectionist by nature. “Those chestnuts should be done by now,” Pol informs him, her voice distorted by the sound of firecrackers echoing across the water.

“No way,” Lou says, taking the basket, placing it on the round table and opening the top.

Pol’s face goes stoney.

Lou lifts a chestnut, cracks it with the tool given him by his German parents. “See? As I thought--not fully cooked.” Pol shifts in her seat, gazing down the canal. A bottle rocket whizzes high. Explodes.

Artemis and Edward trade a sad smile. Pol and Lou have only been married two years. Pol waited until she was twenty-eight to marry. Lou is on his third marriage. They have a lot to learn about respect and love.

Artemis taps her twin’s shoulder. She wants Pol to remember the brilliance of the moon, the smoothness of the pelican’s flight, the lightness of the feather. “Remember, Pol?”

Turning her head, Pol says, “Yes,” but does not smile.

Artemis, a tall girl in rolled up jeans and a sleeveless shirt with earrings that dangle to her shoulders, stands and moves closer to the sparking fire. As the fire shoots out of the chimney, she begins to sway in front of the others. On this last day of the year, she has vowed to be her natural self. She feels relaxed, sorry for her disgruntled sister, personally blessed. Edward sets up straight, watching her. Eighteen years together and he still feels desire for her. No one is more surprised about this fact than he. A confirmed bachelor with a wild, free-love past, he didn’t expect to be alive at this age, let alone happy in a platonic relationship. He smiles at Artemis. “Let’s take a walk,” he says.

They move away from the fire, follow the flow of the canal, heading for a cluster of banana trees.

“Pol is acting ridiculous,” Edward says, striding into the dark.

“Why so?”

“She’s acting like Lou insulted you and her when he only stated his opinion. And the damn chestnuts weren’t cooked! Christ! Women are nuts.”

“You’ve forgotten,” Artemis says, taking his hand.

“Forgot what?” He places her hand on his bent arm, patting her fingers. “You chilly?” he asks, drawing her near.

She smiles and shakes her head. “You hadn’t been with a woman in six years when we first met. We had quite a roller coaster ride at first. Women like to feel the man they’re with respect them.”

Lou chuckles. “Seems like I’ve heard that before,” he says, hugging her closer.

“They love each other. They’ll work it out.”

Edward hesitates. “Look at that moon. Second one this month—a Blue Moon.” He leans forward. Their kiss is gentle, warm, accepting. As they separate he touches her cheek. “You’re so attuned,” he says.

“You’re so not,” she whispers.

“I heard that,” he says in a soft tone, draping one of her dark curls behind her ear.

The sky is packed with stars. Artemis closes her eyes and opens them again. She knows she will remember this moment forever. When they return, Pol is feeding Lou a roasted chestnut. Behind their heads fireworks burst in bouquets of color. High above, the moon spotlights the deck.

Edward sits beside Lou. “You know, Lou, about that light experience Artemis mentioned earlier. I can’t explain it, but it was real all right. Very real. Damnest thing I ever saw.”

In the awkward silence that follows, Artemis and Pol’s eyes lock. It’s obvious Lou has been taken off guard.

Wishing to save Lou the embarrassment of having to come up with a reply that won’t upset Pol, Artemis opens her mouth, but Lou speaks first.

“Did you know when Alan Sheppard was on the moon, he hit a golf ball and drove it 2400 feet, nearly half a mile? Now there’s a mysterious event, if you ask me.”

“Oh, Lou, really!” Pol says.

Lou’s face reddens.

Laughter pelts the night air.

J.D. Daniels: holds a Doctor of Arts degree from Drake University.  Her fiction and poetry has appeared in numerous publications, including: The Broad River Review, The Sylvan Echo, The Elkhorn Review and Doorknobs & BodyPaint Fantastic Flash Fiction:  An Anthology.  She won a prize for poetry from Emerson College Cambridge University.  She is a recipient of an Iowa Arts Council grant and is listed in the Iowa Arts Directory.   To read more of her work, visit her Website at:  www.authorsden.com/joyceadaniels or find her on Facebook or Twitter.  She loves to hear what her readers think:  The good, the bad, the ugly.
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