Moonlight – Tom Roberts

I have the same dream I always do: I am sitting alone in the wooden house by the lake. You know the place. We went every summer. The fire is crackling even though the weather is warm. I am sitting in the rocking chair. You are outside in the field with our daughter, looking for fireflies in the field. I hear you both call out as you find them. I walk over to the door and lean against the wooden frame. I think about the argument. The Moon is bright silver in the sky. I watch as a stain of cloud passes over it, and I want to be up there looking back down. The sky is full of moths with dark bats flying through them. Several moths flutter around my head, attracted by the light of the room behind me. I can hear crickets and insects calling to one another, the trees and grass swaying in the night breeze. A torch is bouncing through the long grass. It’s you, coming back. You stop and follow my gaze into the sky. Then you close the door and I am left inside, on my own.

When I wake, my vest is stuck to me. The filtered air is always too cold and rattles the vent in the ceiling. You would be surprised how clean I have kept my room. I will be here for another year. I have sent in an application to stay beyond that, although I know that they will not let me. The floor is cold. I walk out of my room without turning the lights on. I have been on the Moon station for long enough to find my way. I have had little to do, really, other than monitor some rocks and occasional tremors. It isn’t what either of us had expected, but it has been good for me.

I am in the dining room, now. I can still hear vent rattling in my room. It shouldn’t be a surprise that everything seems so loud up here. I drink some water from a plastic pouch. I am sure I can hear something else. I walk around the room, circling the table, listing. I am pretty sure the sound is coming from the window. It’s the only large window on the station, and has a view of the bright, dusty Moonscape. Nothing looks unusual. I turn on the main light and walk over to check for any damage. On closer inspection, I can see something small in the bottom left corner. It’s a moth. A small brown moth. I wonder how it managed to find its way to the Moon with me. It’s the first living thing I’ve seen since I got here. I pull a chair over, and sit with my face close to the window, and look closer at the moth. I don’t it to fly off and get stuck in any of the equipment. It takes me a few minutes before I realise that the moth is outside, and it is trying to get in. I hold my finger to the glass to check, and the moth stays on the other side, the same side as the airless Moon. As I watch, another one lands on the glass beside the first. I can see its furry body quite clearly. Then a third one joins them, then another.

I step back, knocking the chair to the floor. I close my eyes and wish them to disappear. I realise now that I can hear crickets too, along with the buzz of insects. It is all I can hear now. I open my eyes again. There are dozens of moths on the window. Some are stationary, some are fluttering and knocking against the glass again and again. I turn off the light, and hope that they will go away. I think that some of them do. Now that the room is dark, I can see further across the Moon’s surface. I can see the small green lights of glow worms. I can hear the rustle of grass. I can hear our daughter laugh.

I want to help you both hunt for fireflies. I unlock the heavy door, and it feels like I’m flying out to meet you both.

The Moon has never looked so bright.


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