Edward By Moonlight

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Edward By Moonlight

He had been called in twice already. And still, the big white dog remained in the back garden, his tummy cooled by the painted grey floor of a porch long abandoned by the warmth of the afternoon sun. It was late. Long past his bedtime. Already he had looked into the big bay window off to his left to see the lady preparing the fat fluffy bed for sleep - plumping up pillows, unfurling the downy duvet. He’d watched as she placed the book she was reading on her side of the bed and sat a cup of hot chocolate within easy reach. Just behind his right shoulder, he had heard the man in the kitchen, getting the coffee ready for morning, and had watched as, one by one, the lamplight left each cottage window, till only the bedroom glowed.

But that warm glow was no competition for the light hanging low just over his head. For this was a moon unlike any he’d seen in the whole of his life. So close, he felt he could bat it round the firmament with one furry paw if he wished to. So bright, it had utterly transformed the once night-hidden garden into a luminous stage set where even the shadows shimmered like noon, and the big dog had the best seat in the house. He would miss no performance tonight. Even now he could hear them, the cast of the nighttime, rustling in the ivy with no place to hide - the raccoons and opossums, the rabbit, the mouse. No unseen interloper would pass through his kingdom tonight.
Would the raccoon be so foolish as to stare at him from the crook in the maple tree far back by the hedge?
Would the grey rabbit dare try to hop through the garden, planning, as usual, to slip under the fence, only showing his white snowball tail when he knew it was too late to follow?
And what of the most wicked Milo, the neighbourhood tabby? Would he risk peering round the cottage corner, green eyes taunting, on this incandescently moonlit night?
Ha, let them try.
The big dog was ready, he’d stayed awake just for this.

He shook his head vigorously, trying not to consider how tired he really was. It had been an eventful day. Two long walks, one to the park and one to the library. Lunch in an outdoor cafe where he’d had his head scratched by strangers and been told, once again, that he looked like a “stuffed animal”. He didn’t know what that meant, but the lady never seemed offended on his behalf, so he generally let it go. Coming home he’d played catch down the long hallway, with his favourite green ball, running and running till he collapsed in a furry white heap. Now he yawned, trying to focus.

Then suddenly, he heard it, the sound of a change in his plans. Unnerving, unsettling, in a language the big dog could never understand - the low-pitched, mysterious sound of the owls. So. They were out tonight too, flying in silence high up in the trees, their glossy wings unfurling like dark feathered flags as they flew from limb to limb like a ill-kept secret. They made him uncomfortable, more than he liked to admit. The lady always told him they were wise, that their presence was an omen of good. But he was convinced they were sinister.

The big white dog stood up slowly, a rising wave in a sea of silver moonlight. He froze, marble still, trying to decide what to do. Then he heard the back door open and the lady’s voice whisper, “Really, Edward. It’s past time for bed. I strongly suggest you come inside. Now.” Much preferring to be thought of as obedient rather than frightened, he immediately trotted inside like a gentleman. Yes, best let the owls take care of things tonight. They are perfectly capable, after all. Snuggling down at the foot of the large fluffy bed, the big dog could still hear them calling, out there in the moonlight, as he drifted far off into sleep.

Painting above by Atkinson Grimshaw