A short short story for Mid-Autumn. The Lingering Solitude of the Girl on the Moon
On the night of Mid-Autumn, he sits alone at home.
He sits alone at home and he sends her his very first message.
Hey. I love that too! We should be friends.
On the night of Mid-Autumn, when the moon is best and brightest, she leans against the railing.
She leans against the railing and she says: “Why are you standing so close?”
“I was here first, you stood next to me.”
He looks up. “The moon goddess isn’t really a goddess you know.”
“She’s just a girl who lives there.” She looks at the moon too. “Do you think she gets lonely?”
“She has her rabbit.”
They’re quiet, the good kind of quiet.
She says: “Can you describe loneliness?”
He nods at the distant moon. “There’s this moment.
“There’s this moment. The girl laughs and she giggles and she squirms a tiny bit which I see in her shoulders, her head looks down and her eyes look up, her eyes look up and they look into mine and they are luminous and I realise I’m smiling. I realise I’ve said something which may be clever but it’s not clever enough to be funny but she’s laughing anyway. She’s giggling and it’s not because it’s clever but because she’s happy. I somehow have this magical ability to make her happy and that’s such a great thing because I want her to be happy so much.
“She’s my favourite person in all the vastness of this blue earth and I want to be her favourite person too. I want her to like me and I know she does but I want her to like me even more. I must be awesome because why else would a girl this magical be here with me, right now. I must be awesome and I feel great.
“There’s this moment and it is delight and wonder and joy and more of all those things because life is dreary and dull, full of schedule and routine, devoid of delight and wonder and joy. Now, right now, life doesn’t feel that way, doesn’t feel like the passing of time. The subtle realisation flows through me; intimacy is not having someone to talk to as your unguarded self, intimacy is not sex, intimacy is not a future shared, intimacy is all these things, but most of all intimacy is this moment in between these things, it is this moment of wonder, this moment of warmth and comfort and safety, of knowing I’m in the right place, of knowing everything I say will be funny and everything I do will be sweet, my every touch will be accepted, my every act returned, my every feeling shared.
“This moment in between the past we’ve had and the future we’ll have, this moment shining. This moment which isn’t alone, isn’t isolated, isn’t special at all, it is only one shining moment in a life already full with shining moments and with so many more to come.”
He turns to her, she’s almost laughing. “That’s not loneliness at all!”
“Loneliness is the understanding you will never feel that again.”
“Oh!” She frowns-pouts. “That’s so sad.”
“Except it isn’t, loneliness doesn’t destroy you. It fucks you over, kills a piece of your soul, but it doesn’t fuck you over enough you cannot ignore it, pretend it’s not there and go on with your life, like a person walking and bleeding and walking anyway, as if you aren’t dripping a trail of droplets of inner self. The loneliness is just another piece of emptiness inside an emptiness already the shape of the soul.
“We are all empty inside. We need other people to fill us, we need one special person to fill us all the way. That’s what loneliness is, it is what exists when there is no one else to make the darkness beautiful, because even darkness can be beautiful, as long as someone else sees it too.”
“Even darkness can be beautiful, I love that.”
“I love you.”
She smiles, leans forwards, kisses him quickly on the lips. She turns to the sky. “As long as someone else sees it too.” She points.
“A sky lantern!” The lantern ascends, moving light against the stillness of the moon. “I’ve never seen one before.”
“You didn’t light the ones I gave you?”
“No, they’re still in the car, let’s go get one. That’s amazing, that we see one today, I’ve never seen one before!”
She lies, soft and smooth and lovely, in the curve of his arm. “Remember that thing you told me not to do?”
“You did it.”
“Yeah… Your doll-doll is amazing.”
“And now you want to tell me how it turned out badly and you don’t want me to say I told you so.”
“My profile says I bite.”
“You say that every time you bite me. Nobody thinks that means literally, it’s misrepresentation.”
“It is. People thinks it means something sexual, as if you like to use your mouth.”
“I can tie a cherry stem in my mouth.”
“That’s another thing you keep misrepresenting, nobody thinks that means literally either. It’s a way of saying you give good blowjobs.” He gently pushes her head down.
“It isn’t.” She allows herself to be guided half the distance before she laughs. “I can see where this is going.” She twists, sits up. “Can I tell you my story first?”
He holds her gaze as she holds his heart, with gentle certainty. He holds her gaze and he smiles. “Happy anniversary, doll.”
She grins. “Happy anniversary.”
“So tell me about the stupid thing you did.”
On the night of Mid-Autumn, when the moon is best and brightest, they sit on the bench by the shore of the lake.
They sit on the bench by the shore of the lake and they are quiet.
He looks across the waves of the water. “The lake is ever changing but the moon never changes.”
Her voice is soft and it is lovely. “The moon is always changing and the lake is always changing, but the lake will always reflect the moon.”
“Except she doesn’t. She can’t. She hides her face with her hair, her face changes as her hair moves, but that doesn’t mean her face is changing. She only promises to change, she doesn’t really, she can’t, some people can’t.”
She is silent. He doesn’t turn to look at her, his eyes never leave the lake.
When the quiet gets too quiet, he says: “The moon goddess.”
“Is she alone because she wants to live on the moon, or does she live on the moon because she wants to be alone?”
“I don’t know.”
“Does she want to be alone?”
“But she wants to live on the moon.”
“And neither will change.”
He does not say: “The distance between the lake and the moon is so so great, yet they are forever joined by the beam of a star. You sit next to me but we no longer have our bridge across the sky.” He says: “Let’s go, it’s getting late.”
“Okay.” They stand, he picks up the plastic debris the mooncake came in, they walk.
“Do you want to come over?”
“I’ve to work tomorrow.”
“Of course you do.”
On the drive back–
“One day I’ll stop asking. We barely even meet anymore. One day that will stop too. Then we’ll stop talking.”
“Let’s not do this again.”
“You always win, when we argue. You give me reasons and then I spend months addressing them and it turns out those reasons weren’t real, you only said them to win. You say logical things but they’re not true.”
“Let’s not do this again.”
“You’re right. As usual. One day you’ll be right and you’ll be alone.”
At her door–
“Will you get lonely?”
“But you won’t change.”
She shakes her head, leans forwards, kisses him quickly on the lips. “Some people can’t.”
She holds his gaze as she holds his heart, barely, with timid uncertainty. “Will you be lonely?”
“I already am, doll.”
Her smile no longer lights up her eyes. “Sorry.”
“Yeah, well.” He fails to smile too. “I’m tired.”
She nods. “Me too.”
The door closes and she is gone.
He drives home alone.
He drives home alone and he remembers that very first message.
We should be friends.
And we were, weren’t we? We were.
The very best of friends.
On the night of Mid-Autumn, the moon hangs in the sky, when she is best and brightest.
Changer unchanging, alone.
(She has her rabbit.)
This Mid-Autumn is also a Supermoon Eclipse, which makes this story extra special.
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