By Virginia Eggerton
When one day the moon didn’t rise, almost no one noticed. When night fell, and no moon hung up there casting the earth in a dull, waxen glow, those of us who did notice, assumed it was a new moon. It does that every once in a while, we said to ourselves.
On the second day, we still didn’t realize it was missing. During the day there are clouds and trees and buildings to hide behind, so to those crack-pot conspiracy theorists who claimed the moon had disappeared, we said, I’m sure it’s up there somewhere, and went on with our lives.
After three days, it finally made the news. Astronomers had noticed immediately, and they begged the public to pay attention, to see catastrophe in the empty, star-freckled, ink-black sky. The tides hadn’t changed, though, and no strange gravitational pull or lack thereof had been felt. The earth did not suddenly shift off its axis, and so we collectively shrugged our shoulders. We don’t miss the moon, we said. If the tides came and went as usual, it was just fine by us if there was nothing in the sky at all.
As the weeks went by, though, we found ourselves looking up expectantly, waiting for it to just come back. How long did these things usually take? The moon had never left before. Plus, things we hadn’t expected to change had changed. There were movies we stopped watching and pictures we tore up, songs that were removed from regular rotation. Goodnight Moon sat unread on shelves, a eulogy for a loss we didn’t want to admit had meant anything to us at all.
We claim to have gotten over it now, to have moved on because, well, it’s been gone so long. Earth had a moon, we say, past tense. Maybe one day the moon will return, we think, though none of us expects it, and none of us will admit we want it. What really was the point of the moon anyway? Did it ever matter? And more quietly, behind closed doors, Did we just not appreciate what we had? Some of us, maybe the weakest of us, are sure it’s only a matter of time. So, to be ready, we secretly track its phantom phases on our calendars: waxing crescent, first quarter, waxing gibbous, full.
Virginia Eggerton is living right outside of DC and working on getting her MFA in fiction. Her work has previously appeared (or is forthcoming) in Honey and Lime Lit and Cease, Cows. You can follow her on twitter at @eggertonhere.