For some reason, it was New Year’s, but it was day, morning even, and my family had gotten together from the four corners of the Earth, every branch and every wing and every side. There were 9th cousins I had never even heard of, let alone met, whole last names that were brand new to me, hundreds of people all together.
Our party theme was Hawaiian, which I refused to participate in because I felt it was stupid. So there were these hundreds of relatives of mine, the vast majority of which were strangers to me, and they were all dressed up like they were going to the beach. They were in flip-flops and Bermuda shorts and straw hats and leis and, of course, everybody was wearing a brightly colored Hawaiian shirt. But it was New Year’s and freezing out. Snow was a foot high on the ground, the wind howled, and temps hovered around zero.
We were all going up on the mountain to have this party, and, even though it was morning, everybody had set out to it except me. In the town in which I grew up and where this was all taking place, there was a mountain that was a focal point of the whole community. It even had the name of the town in great big illuminated letters on it, a la Hollywood, only it should have read “Nowhere”. Technically, it was a large hill that rose from the valley floor where the actual town was and around which the actual town wrapped. This town in which I grew up was just over 5,000 feet above sea level, so, even more technically, this large hill was a very large mountain. But, you know, perspectives…
I did not want to participate and lollygagged back, staying in my second floor apartment. Because of my refusal to participate in the Hawaiian theme of the party, my mother and I got into a screaming match. My mother is dead, but she was given leave to come back temporarily for this party.
After the fight, I was wracked with guilt. Here, my mother was allowed to come back from the dead briefly for this party and what do I do? Cool, Mike. Real fucking cool.
I lollygagged in my apartment, but I had made up my mind to join the others on the mountain, if only to spend time with my dead mother. I was going to apologize profusely to her and was getting dressed—appropriately, not Hawaiianly—for the mountain in winter. But people kept coming to my door—elderly neighbors wishing me a Happy New Year, a younger neighbor with whom I apparently had some New Year’s tradition. He had a fold-out card table on which sat a big spinner wheel, a la Wheel of Fortune. Apparently, he and I spun this wheel every New Year’s to determine something, even though I didn’t remember him or this wheel-spinning tradition. There were others, but I don’t remember too clearly about them. I dealt politely with them all, nodding and smiling and murmuring pleasantries, and all the while the urge to get up to the mountain grew and grew until it was a pressing need.
It was about this time that I noticed, out my apartment window, the sky. Right above the mountain, was the moon, only it was HUGE. VAST. ENORMOUS. It filled over half the sky…and it was getting bigger and bigger with every passing second. Maybe it wasn’t the moon. It was so big and so close I could easily see its landscape—vast snow-covered mountain ranges and glaciers. It was all white and frozen. It looked like a planet-sized snowball hurtling right at us.
"Um, guys? Guys?" I was saying as I looked out the window. "We have a problem."
All the distractions were there with me now, all at the same time, all talking over each other and, most importantly, me. Little old ladies were trying to give me plates of muffins and cookies, the kid with the fold-out card table and big spinner wheel was there trying to get me to take my turn, an old friend I hadn’t seen in years had just arrived, two thieves wearing Chewbacca costumes were stealing all the beer out of my fridge.
I began holding my hands together, which is something I do when I’m worried or scared—basically, I hold hands with myself. I looked down at them and saw that my right hand had turned completely black, which, for some reason, terrified me more than anything. It wasn’t black like the hand of someone of African descent, but jet, pitch, utter, night black.
I squeezed it and it was cold and numb. I tried to move the fingers, couldn’t. My heart began to pound in my chest, at which point I woke up from my nap, came in here to my office and wrote all this out.