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Illustration of a yellow moon and a gray and black labyrinth - literary magazine contributors. Read short stories online.

Our Moon

I awoke on a beach at night. It was all barren and empty; darkness surrounded me. I looked out to the ocean, and saw nothing but the moon’s pale glow reflected in black. The waters were still, though the moon’s image trembled terribly. I looked up to the sky, saw our moon there as well, and in the flesh, it also trembled.

Small and desolate in its lonesome state, I watched as the moon wept in its place. I could see for the first time that it had a nose, ears, eyes, and a mouth; that it bent its features in strange ways of suffering, lost on me, all those miles away. The moon’s eyes were sunken way back in its head, ringed with yellow-brown craters, and its nose came to a point. It had many teeth in its mouth, which were all perfectly aligned, placid, and cast with a pearly film, like its glow. The moon’s tears ran down its cheeks and splashed into the waters below, soft and rhythmic.

Who had pressed it into space there, all by its lonesome? Troubled and naive, I called out to it:

“Oh Moon, why do you cry so? What in all this world could fill you with such anguish and sorrow? You sit so far above us all, removed from our mortal struggles and turmoil, the pangs of our foolish hearts; you are kin to the cosmos, older than life itself, possessing such knowledge and wisdom that we on Earth could never even hope to understand. For the life of me, I cannot understand what it is that could possibly fill you with such a profound sadness as this one that you wear so pitifully tonight?”

The moon looked at me but did not reply. I looked back up at it and could divine nothing from its distant stare.

I’m not sure how long I sat there like that, bathed in the moon’s glow, trying like mice in a labyrinth to explore the recesses of its mind, glean even a fraction of its thoughts or emotions. At some point though, my concentration was broken. A far-off wind, howled from somewhere in the distance, and a great terror began to rise up from within me. I looked over my shoulder towards the direction of the sound – all I saw was that same long strip of desert beach, extending out to the limits of my vision, and peeling over the horizon somewhere towards infinity. When I looked back, the moon had disappeared, replaced by an empty reach of deep-blue space, and freckled with stars shining faintly, millions of miles away. Before I had much time to think, that same wayward wind picked up once more; this time so strong that it lifted me from the sandy earth on which I sat, and I was borne aloft upon the wings of a mighty, invisible gale. It carried me further and further into the night sky until I found myself placed in that same exact spot that our dear moon had once occupied.

And suddenly I could see everything. For then, I was the moon; I understood that for which it despaired, and with the blackness laid before me, I too wept.

Written by: Collin Parrish

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