It had been a long day and an even longer week but the moon was full and the weather mild. A perfect evening for Desiree “Dizzy” Foster to do a little yoga and meditation by moonlight. There was an energy in the air during the full moon that was absent at any other time. It was almost magical.
More mundane was Dizzy’s summer job volunteering at the community center giving art lessons to children and adults. She loved opening up the world of art to her students, but today hadn’t gone well from practically the moment she’d opened her eyes. The alarm clock hadn’t gone off and she’d been running late for the rest of the day, constantly trying to catch up. She deserved a glass of wine with her dinner. Maybe two.
“I have all week to work in the studio,” she told herself in the mirror as she tugged on her yoga pants and t-shirt before making a face at her reflection. “And I’ll try that new cookie recipe too.”
Teaching was wonderful but actually creating something with her own two hands was Dizzy’s true passion. She’d known that she was destined to be an artist from a young age.
Pouring herself a glass of wine in the kitchen, Dizzy could see the full moon through the windows casting its light across her backyard despite the clouds that kept drifting in front of it. A frisson of excitement ran up her spine as she eased the back door open. The next half hour was her time. A little selfish but she didn’t care. It was these moments that kept her sane when all hell seemed to have broken loose in her too busy life.
When Dizzy had been a chubby child of only four or five, her mother Tami had taught her the Moon Salutations, so different than the Sun Salutations that she’d learned at first. As Tami had patiently helped her learn each pose she’d told Dizzy how the moon represented the mother and feminine yin. She’d spoken of how the moon brought cycles to their lives, invisible rhythms that people often ignored, but that didn’t mean they weren’t there. It had been a powerful lesson at a young age – not everything could be seen by the eyes. It was a lesson that some people never learned.
Of course, now Dizzy was all grown up and her parents Tamara and Louis were doing Sun and Moon Salutations in Greece at the moment while working on an archaeological dig. Some parents retired to Florida and played golf. Dizzy’s parents traveled the world looking for adventure and spiritual harmony.
Slipping out to her back deck, Dizzy laid out the yoga mat and closed her eyes, taking several deep breaths, absorbing the moon’s energy with each inhale and then exhaling the negative energy of the crappy day she’d had. The tension began to drain from her body and her senses came more alive. She was acutely aware of the rustle of each and every leaf on the trees in her backyard, the chirp of the cicadas, and the music of the cricket. The cool air ran across her skin, raising goosebumps.
Somewhere in the distance a dog barked as the scent of grass, earth, and flowers tickled her nostrils. Her lids fluttered open and she stared up at the purple night sky dotted with tiny stars. She’d gone to art school and college in New York and she’d missed the stars that had been dimmed by all the city lights. There had never been a question of her staying there. She’d been glad to come home where she could actually see the sky.
Placing her wine glass down beside her she stood in position on the back porch as the cares of the day slowly fell away. Slowly and deliberately, Dizzy moved through her yoga poses before finally sinking to a sitting position at the end, cross-legged on the mat. Smiling serenely, she gave the moon a playful wink, her mood happier than it had been in over twelve hours.
She took a sip of her wine, enjoying the fruity taste on her tongue, but her attention was snagged away as her neighbor turned on an upstairs light, the glow illuminating the inside of the house like a movie screen at the local theatre. A woman came into view in the window for a moment and then disappeared just as quickly. Dizzy had to blink a few times to make sure she hadn’t imagined it.
Her new neighbor Trip Stanford must have company because Dizzy was quite sure the man lived in the house alone. A Tremont resident for the last five years or so, he’d moved in about three months ago and she’d taken over a bundt cake to welcome him to the block. He’d invited her in for some lemonade to go with the cake and they’d chatted about the weather but nothing of any consequence. He’d been friendly and charming but they hadn’t had a conversation since, content to wave and smile when they saw one another. There hadn’t been a woman in sight that day nor any day after. He appeared to live a quiet life which everyone appreciated, and better yet he kept his lawn mowed and his mailbox painted.
Rolling up her mat, Dizzy padded back into the house on bare feet as the air outside grew chillier despite the calendar on the wall. It said the end of July but it had been abnormally cool this summer, which the whole town was enjoying.
“Damn,” she muttered under her breath as she tucked her mat behind the door, ready for another day. “Forgot my wine. I need that.”
Dashing back to grab her glass, she saw the woman she’d seen earlier back in the window but this time Trip was there as well. He had bent his head low to her ear as if speaking urgently or persuasively but the woman was having none of it, shaking her head vehemently. She tried to move away but Trip caught her by the arm, jerking her back, but the female didn’t give up trying to pull away. Before Dizzy could even take a breath, Trip had his hands around the woman’s neck and all she could do was watch in horror, her heart racing as the poor woman clawed at Trip’s fingers and then crumpled to the floor. The moment had played out like a horrific scene in an old time silent film but this was all too real.
At some point, Dizzy’s hands had come up to cover her mouth but they needn’t have bothered because her scream of terror was silent, clawing to get out of her tightly closed throat, but the only sound that was able to escape was a small squeak. She stood frozen for a moment, her limbs not taking any orders from her brain but then her body started to attention again as if she’d been hit by a stun gun. She stumbled back into her kitchen on trembling legs, flipping the lock closed behind her and falling to her knees as her legs gave way underneath her and hot tears pricked behind her eyes. Her breaths came in gasps and fits as she struggled to pull oxygen into her aching lungs.
With a grunt of effort, she propelled herself across her kitchen to the counter and grabbed the phone, fumbling to remember her passcode and unlock it. Dizzy’s shaking hands were barely able to dial and it took several tries before the call connected.
“911, what’s your emergency?”
“I need to report a murder.”