Luna and the Midnight Café
My current work-in-progress is a love letter to love: family love, friendship, romantic love, love of animals and the Earth, self-love.
Luna is a college drop-out living with her co-dependent father, depressed and going nowhere in the wake of her mother's suicide. When she decides to move out of her family home and start working in downtown Tucson, she meets the people who will change her life and help her come to terms with her grief. As Luna pores through her mother's cookbooks and journals, she rediscovers her passion for cooking while finding out secrets her mother Nadine kept from her and her father that help to explain her suicide. Summer Rainn, a middle-aged, queer, crystal-collecting, pot-smoking free spirit hires Luna to help transform an old beat up diner into a café filled with fresh food, midnight dances, and music. Summer's nephew, Reed Sandoval, baker for the Midnight Café, gardener, potter, and all-around handyman, proves to be an interesting distraction in Luna's quest to remain single. As their friendship grows into something much more, Luna must overcome her fears and allow herself to love again. Fortunately, Reed Sandoval is a patient man.
With humor, spirit, and a generous touch of magic, Luna and the Midnight Café is a story of self-discovery, family, friendship, and of course the importance of good food and good cheer.
Luna fished out a small flashlight from the drawer where she and her father kept all their random junk and miscellaneous important items, like flashlights and candle lighters and utility bills. She walked out the back door and into the forest. It was really dark, darker than she had expected, and when she looked up she realized there was no moon in the sky. Rather, it was the new moon. The stars were plentiful as the sky was clear, not a cloud in sight. She wound her way toward the ravine but not into it, taking her time walking along the path on the upper edge.
She hadn’t walked here since she was a teenager. Luna and her Mom would take walks after school or sometimes on the weekends in the forest preserve. It was not huge, but huge enough. Huge enough to get lost in. Huge enough to hurt yourself if you were stupid enough to wander off path. Nadine had only taken her off path once, and now Luna tried to retrace the steps. She needed to go back.
It took her an hour, but she finally saw the tree with the crescent moon symbol etched into it and knew she had arrived. The crescent moons marked a path from tree to tree until she reached the edge of the ravine, where a thick, knotted rope lay along the sides of the widening ravine, drilled into the last crescent moon tree. She used the knots in the rope like a ladder to climb down into the clearing. From here she still had to walk another half mile, but it was flat and easy. The air was crisp and cool and sweet-smelling, like a ripe apple pressed against her skin.
As she approached, the glistening of the water caught her eye through the foliage of the trees in the dried-up ravine, and she knew she was almost there. Just a few more steps—and there it was. The Pool of Light.
Millions of bioluminescent microorganisms inhabited the pond and lit it up like fireflies at nighttime. Pond fireflies. Blue Firefish, Luna thought with a half-hearted chuckle, knowing they weren’t fish but enjoying the name anyway. She sat on a smoothed rock at the edge of the pond.
When was the last time things felt beautiful?
When was the last time she felt in awe?
Had it really been so long?
Luna stood up, grabbed the edge of her t-shirt. She paused, looking around, checking to make sure she was alone. Her clothes in a heap on that same rock, she walked, naked, into the water. She moved slow, deliberately, as if in ritual or prayer. She placed her right hand in between her breasts, feeling the hard surface of her sternum with her whole palm. She felt so solid, right there, where the cage of bone protected her heart. Inside the cage, if she listened closely, she could hear herself, but it was distant, an echo, and she couldn’t make out what was being said.
Luna waded into the water, up to her hips now, and placed her hands between her legs. Felt her thighs, the hip bone, the soft swell of her belly, her butt. Places she hadn’t allowed herself to be touched by anyone but her, not since Rajin, and certainly not since that night. Her fingers swirled the water around her in a futile effort to catch one of the firefish. They were too small, blinked too fast, slipped out of her grasp. And when she reached into the sky, she tried to catch a star and found that they, too, were far, far out of reach.
Close enough that she was wading in it, and so far beyond comprehension: light, kissing her everywhere. She bent her knees and took the plunge, diving into the depths of the sparkling water, turning up toward the sky and opening her eyes. Light, everywhere, light, kissing her. Luna floated on her back for a long while, staring the night in its many eyes. She felt, for the first time in two years, that feeling of complete radiance and awe, as if everything was suddenly explained in its unexplainability, and everything made sense in its senselessness.