On the first day of winter, I watched the Anne Hathaway movie “One Day” with our kids.  It’s about  Emma and Dexter who, the night  they graduate from college, go to her room and try to make out.  He is drunk, but Emma, although she is fascinated by him, agrees that it is best for them to just be friends and they fall asleep.  It is July 15th and for most of the rest of the movie they meet again on that date for twenty years in various places and for various reasons. Though clearly in love, they are often angry with each other because they live such different lives. Emma, a teacher, has an alcoholic boyfriend. Dexter becomes an annoying T.V. personality who marries a woman who cheats on him. After his divorce, they finally admit that they are in love and they marry.  They are happy and hope to have children, but one evening when  Emma is riding home on her bicycle, she is hit and killed by a garbage truck.

She is shown dying in the street, then there’s a flashback to the morning after they first met. They wake up in bed together and are embarrassed and apologetic. They decide to take a walk on the mountain which overlooks Edinburgh and realize that they want each other. They race down a hillside covered in wildflowers to his hotel, but find his parents waiting for him there. Once again they are embarrassed and they say goodbye, then more goodbyes, then, I’ll be seeing you.

I remembered warmer days, happier times and your favorite song, Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon” and the line, “I want to see you dance again,” and I started to cry for you and for me and for Scott and for Haley and I hid my tears from them. It was 4:00 o’clock and already dark. Outside a cold winter moon was just rising above our bare deck, cleared of summer furniture. I put on the Bears game, gathered up the chips and the salsa I had made with the small remaining tomatoes from our garden, and took everything I was able to carry into the kitchen where we made the lasagna you had taught us all to make.   

Charles Kerlin

Charles Kerlin is a teacher of creative writing and American literature at Saint Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Indiana with a Ph.D. from the University of Colorado. He was a graduate student for two summers at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He has published a half dozen stories, won the Hopewell prize for a short story judged by Alan Cheusse, book editor for NPR. “On This Harvest Moon” came from the experience of watching One Day with my children on the first night of winter.

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