It didn't start how you'd think it would. When mom and dad got married, they were happy. Even when they had me, they were happy. After they had my little sister, they were happy. But there was something, and it made them stop. Day after day, it'd get worse. At first, all that changed was the way they dressed, like no one cared. Then, they'd stop making coffee for each other, or they'd stop asking about the other's day. Then, it would spread to us, too. The pictures we drew in school would become tedious to them, and they'd explode in anger whenever we did something bad. I always thought there was something weird about it, but my friends told me that's how all families end up.
One night, however, a shrill voice pervaded the air, shattering the peace. It was terrifying, so much so that, as an eight-year old, I had pissed myself in bed. I thought it was someone in pain, at first, short bursts of shrill syllables and long, painful coughs. After a moment, though, I recognized the pattern. No one was screaming. They were laughing. No rhyme nor reason, just laughter. Terrible, cold laughter, such that you'd never hear under happier circumstances. I pulled the blanket over my head, and I cried myself to sleep, wallowing in the scent of piss. Moments passed by, dragging into hours. Painful, terrible laughter. I just cried, hoping it wouldn't get me. Please, Lord, don't let it get me. I looked to the full moon that night, and it's light was the only thing that comforted me. It cast shadows, true. But it dispelled them as well.
The next day was business as usual, as if nothing had happened. But mom looked a little worn out, the bags in her eyes, the despondent look in her face. I had simply thought that she was tired, until I saw my father. He loomed above me, as always, but this time, he awoke with the smile of the dead; it would not come off, and it had no reason. That smile haunts my nightmares more frequently than anything else, always accompanied by the manic, deathly cry of laughter.
The days began to drag longer and longer, and I could tell there was no love left between my parents. They had began to speak of divorce, although neither one wished to instigate it. My sister and I, both thought it was our faults, and we even came up with stupid little plans to keep them together. As a child, anything you can think up works, except in the adult world, where magic died out long ago.
My father left without warning, and it was just my mom and sister with me for a long time. My sister never spoke much after that, choosing instead to nod her head, or ignore you completely. My mom would later reenter a relationship, although it was hard having two moms. We grew up, fighting life one step at a time. Then, one night, he returned, my father did.
He was not happy. He was drunk off his ass, but we didn't know about that back then. He entered the house, late at night, smiling that creepy smile of his. He came into our bedroom, and, chuckling a small bit, asked us questions.
"What's Mommy doing nowadays?" He'd ask.
"She's sleeping with our other mommy right now," my sister would volunteer. It was the first time she'd spoken in months, and her voice was cracked and hard.
The smile disappeared from dad's face, and he stopped laughing, stopped smiling. His face contorted in anger, he cracked the bottle of beer he'd been holding, loudly, against my sister's bed, shattering it.
I could hear mom rushing around the corner, the panic in her footfalls. Daddy turned to us, and raised the bottle, as if to strike as soon as Mom came through the door. His face, stuck in his rage, began to unfurl, to contort painfully into a smile once more. As mom entered the door, her hand reached for the light, and flicked it on, just as Daddy's bottle cut clean through her flesh. Blood splattered around the room, reaching the floor, and a little bit on the wall. It glimmered in the moonlight, shining as bright as ever.
But as we looked to see what Dad would do next, we realized he'd disappeared in the light. He was nowhere to be found, although his manic laughter lingered on, the same as before. Short screams, and terrible, blood-laden coughs. Later on, we'd look for shards of glass, and we couldn't even find that. the only reality left of that night was the blood on the wall, and the scar on mom's wrist.
My sister and I forgot the encounter, forced ourselves to forget. It couldn't have happened how it did, that was impossible. Right? My sister never spoke again. She refused to communicate at all. She would write down nothing, all she did was stare at the door, in her bed. She'd always return there, and never go to sleep, just waiting for the day daddy would come back.
There were nights when I'd ask her to speak. I missed her voice. All i wanted was to know what was troubling her, I needed to know if I could help. I only ever once got a response out of her.
"You know dad's never coming back, right?" I told her. " But I'll always be with you, sis."
She turned her head in reaction, and opened her mouth. And she began laughing. Long, straining laughter. And she would not stop. She sat there, bolt upright, and laughed, for thirty minutes straight. It wasn't until the night after that i realized that the moon was full the night before.
The next morning, we woke up, but my mother never did. When the paramedics had arrived, they were as surprised as us. My mother, who had never had a history of heart attacks in her family, nor her life, had succumbed to cardiac arrest. Her heart had simply stopped, in the middle of the night. I pretended that day forth that I didn't know what caused it.
It wasn't long before we were out of high school, all told. We'd been going through the motions after a while. Neither of us had made friends, and no one really noticed we were there. Our other mom had raised us, out of the kindness of her heart.
I'm in college now. all I do all day is work or go to school. I never met a girl I'd let in, and I never had any friends. But, every night of a full moon, I'd hear the laughter. Always at two in the morning. That crazed, terrifying happiness, the giddiness that beckons insanity itself. Sometimes I even hear the moon talking to me, telling me secrets no one else knows.
Sometimes, oftentimes in reality, it tells me how it killed my father all those years ago. It explains it in detail. It'll tell me the real reason my sister won't speak, It'll tell me how it seized my mother's heart in it's claws, and crushed it.
The funny thing is, I'm starting to get the joke. Sometimes, I even laugh with the moon. Sometimes, I see a face in it. And most of the time, it's mine. LAUGHING, AS ALWAYS...