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Serpent in the Sky

Written by Travis Knight

The bright bulbous moon rose as the hood of my truck swallowed the yellow lines on Highway 1. The hilly terrain eventually submerged the glowing sphere ahead, its white brilliance rolling back and out of view. When the moon returned, it arrived much smaller. The color had changed, too. It now looked like a dying coal, ember orange, fading like the last sputters of a midnight campfire. It illuminated the deep dark blue sky around it and it lit up the patches of grey clouds that spit out the coastal winds. Laid out below the moon, wide and turbulent and always churning, was the great Pacific Ocean.

It was 3:30 a.m. and the grocery delivery I was doing said I’d be dropping off in Daly City. I’d soon find out that “Daily City” actually meant “Pacifica.” After I dropped off the order in a quaint coastal neighborhood, I decided to make the drive worth it by heading to Manor Drive, a street I frequented during my time in the trades. Nearly a year had passed since my last day at work. That day was spent on top of an apartment’s roof, push-brooming puddles, and sealing a leaking vent hood.

Now standing on Esplanade Avenue with that same apartment building to my back, I realized how much I took stable work and a daily routine for granted. When I left my job, I thought I’d find work quickly. I also yearned for a higher-paying job in which I could be free and make my own schedule. Almost 11 months later, I was still looking for a job, spending my 9-5 hours searching. Writing work was slow, so I needed a night gig to fulfill my financial burdens. I got freedom alright, but I never thought it would mean double dipping delivery apps at all hours of the night.

“The clouds somberly swept by, swallowing the moon in such a way that they looked like eyelids embracing a serpent’s eye…”

The winds brewing over the ocean and pouring in with interludes of fog left goosebumps in their tracks. I took no notice of the brisk breeze as I was stunned by what I was looking at. It was one of those infrequent happenings where you catch a different perspective of nature—when you look in through that certain lens and really notice nature’s never-ending work. I felt grateful for having been dragged to Pacifica—40 miles from home—because if I had not, I would have missed that which my eyes faced.

The moon was now peeking out from a gathering of clouds. The clouds somberly swept by, swallowing the moon in such a way that they looked like eyelids embracing a serpent’s eye, amber and never-blinking, keeping a close watch on the waves it moved below. I wanted to get down to the beach and off these cliffs. Because of all the lunch breaks I used to take on this beach, I knew the way down. However, it was dark, and my phone’s light offered very little aid. I thought I saw the path down but was met with a 40-foot sheer drop that plunged into the darkness. I stepped back and wiped the nervousness off my brow. Eventually, I found the way down, but there in the shadow of a dune, like a beast waiting to pluck off its next victim, somebody stirred and grunted in the darkness. “Fuck this,” I thought, “I’m going home.”

Now back on Highway 1, heading homebound to the 280, I crawled up the two-lane road that crawled up the coastal hills. In my rearview mirror, I saw the moon again. It was much lower now, but it was larger. The cloudy eyelids were now in a squint, and the serpent’s eye darker now. Near the final bend before the ocean would leave view, I got one last glimpse of the serpent’s eye, its cloudy lids now nearly closed. I could see the ripples of white water spreading away from the descending moon. Right before I took that final bend, the lids almost completely shut, with only a slit of amber moonlight remaining. Then it bid farewell and dropped behind the far-reaching sea. The serpent had gone to sleep.


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