I woke from a dream about frogs. The details escape me, but that’s not important. What’s important is after a few minutes of lying in bed wondering why the frogs were still croaking, I realized it wasn’t frogs at all. It was singing.
When I came to my senses, I realized it was an old person singing, and that meant it was Grandma. I was staying at her house while my parents vacationed for their tenth anniversary.
I’d never heard Grandma sing before, but I recognized her voice. Curious why she was awake—my bedside clock said 3:13—I climbed out of bed and crept down the hall. I hesitated by Grandma’s bedroom door, but didn’t go in. Her singing was coming from farther down. I continued past her bedroom, past the bathroom, past the closet where she kept towels and old sheets, and finally came to the spare room at the end of the hall. The door hung open a crack, and I peeked inside.
A small, unmade bed stood unoccupied. A single window cast a square of moonlight in the center of the floor. Grandma sat in a rocking chair with her back to the room, facing a blank wall.
“Grandma?” I whispered as I stepped inside. The singing abruptly stopped. When Grandma didn’t say anything, I asked, “Grandma, what’re you doing up?”
Her chair creaked as she rocked back and forth, but aside from that she didn’t stir. I couldn’t see her face, which remained fixed on the wall in front of her.
“Grandma, won’t you turn around?”
“Not now, Dear. I’m watching the moon.”
I stared at the back of her head, watching her white hairs quiver with each tilt of the chair. “But Grandma, there’s no window there.”
She didn’t respond to that. My head was starting to hurt. I’d only just woken up, and trying to process what Grandma meant was more than my sleepy mind could handle.
“The moon is red tonight.”
“What?” I asked, glancing over my shoulder at the window and the silver beams that filtered through it.
“Red over a land of black. It crumbles.” Her chair creaked faster. Each time she leaned back, I thought she’d tip over—but then she’d throw herself forward again, nearly smacking her forehead against the wall. Back and forth, back and forth.
“Grandma, stop! You’ll hurt yourself—”
“It crumbles red,” she rattled. “Red, red, reeaaugh!”
“Grandma, you’re scaring me!”
Something grabbed me from behind. I screamed and spun away from whatever it was, then gasped when I saw—
“Come away from that thing, Dear,” Grandma hissed. The real Grandma, the one whose face I could see. I ran to her and buried my face in her nightgown as she led me out of the room. Behind us, the creaking of the rocking chair slowed, then stopped. Just before Grandma closed the door, I glanced back and saw the chair was empty.