The Pull of the Moon_ A Novel - By Elizabeth Berg


My editor, Kate Medina, read this book in installments and kept calling to say she loved it. This was rocket fuel to the fingers. Lisa Bankoff has a cool head, a warm heart, and a great sense of humor—an unbeatable combination in an agent. Jean-Isabel McNutt copy-edits with artful precision and with enormous sensitivity. Thanks too to Sally Hoffman, Renana Meyers, Linda Pennell and Abby Rose for the excellent work they do for me.

My Tuesday morning writing group was with me every step of the way, as usual. My thanks to Sally Brady, Betsy Cox, Linda Cutting, Alan Emmet, Alex Johnson, Kate Kruschwitz, Mary Mitchell, Rick Reynolds, and Donna Stein for their honest input. And for their love.

Last, but most: Thanks to my daughters, Julie and Jennifer, for being themselves; and thanks to my husband, Howard, who tolerates all my travels—inside and out.

Dear Martin,

I know you think I keep that green rock by my bed because I like its color. And I do like its color. But the reason I keep it by my bed is that oftentimes I wake up frightened, and it comforts me to hold it then. I squeeze it. I lie on my side away from you and I squeeze the rock and look out the window and think that outside are rocks just like this one, lying still and strong and silent. They are beside rivers in Egypt and in fields in Germany and at the center of the desert and on the moon. The rock seems to act as a conduit, drawing out of me whatever it is that is making my heart race, whatever is making me feel as though my own soul is one step ahead of me, saying don’t come. Don’t bother. Martin, I am fifty years old. The time of losses is upon me. Maybe that’s it. I don’t know. I saw Kotex in the drugstore the other day and began to weep. Then I saw a mother with a very little girl, helping her pick out crayons, and this, too, undid me. I had to leave without buying what I came for. I drove home and I thought about Ruthie standing next to me as I lay on the couch one day. She was two and a half, holding Legos in the basket of her hands. I had a mild case of flu; I was mostly just exhausted. And Ruthie dropped the Legos on me and used my chest to build a small city and I was perfectly happy. I think I even knew it. It was that Chinese thing, that when your mind is in your heart, you are happy.

You know, Martin, when Ruthie was a freshman in high school, I was driving home from the grocery store one day and listening to the radio and I all of a sudden realized that in four years she would be gone. And I felt like screaming. Not because I have nothing else in my life. Just because she would be gone. I pulled over and I wept so hard the car was shaking, and then I repaired my makeup in the rearview mirror, and then I came home and made dinner and I never said a thing about it, although maybe I should have. Maybe I should have started telling you then. I was afraid, I think, that you would say, “Well, she’ll visit,” and the feeling would have been of all my eggs being walked on by boots.

I’m sorry the note I left you was so abrupt. I just wanted you to know I was safe. But I shouldn’t have said I’d be back in a day or two. I won’t be back for awhile. I’m on a trip. I needed all of a sudden to go, without saying where, because I don’t know where. I know this is not like me. I know that. But please believe me, I am safe and I am not crazy, I felt as though if I didn’t do this I wouldn’t be safe and I would be crazy.

I have no idea what will happen next. I am in a small Holiday Inn one hundred and eighty miles from home. I have a view of the pool. Beside me I have a turquoise journal, tooled leather, held closed by a thin black strap wrapped around a silver button. I bought it the day before I left. Normally, that kind of thing would not appeal to me. But it seemed I had to have