WITHOUT THE MOON
Sarah decided to go to the churchyard and look at the full moon. There was a nip of frost in the air, the first of the autumn, and she zipped up her jacket as she sat down on a bench. How large the moon was! She could see its mountains, its seas, its deadness. How many meanings it had accrued! Virginity, the Huntress Diana, impassivity. She recalled the scene in Jane Eyre, when the moon speaks to the heroine as she is racked by illicit desires: “my daughter, flee temptation.” Jane had replied: “Mother, I will”. That was a cold calling.
And yet, and yet.... Sarah recalled how the moon also effected the tides and people’s moods. It was variable and passionate too. She looked up at the moon, which should by now be rising in the sky. But it wasn’t. It seemed to be bigger than usual, and it was as though it was getting closer. Soon it would be touching the church steeple. This was strange. Surely it could not collide with the earth? And why here, of all places?
The air became more chill. She stood up, and imagined someone else seeing her, stockstill and silhouetted against the silver planet. Then slowly, slowly, the moon began to pull away. It was the size of a yoga ball, a football, a new ball of wool, a tennis ball. A speck, and then it was gone.
They found out later that, freed from its earthly affiliations, the moon had eventually attached itself to Jupiter. The earth was left bereft. The nights were black as pitch. There were no sea tides any more, no more ebb and flow. The seasons and the days were of a different length than before. But what Sarah missed most of all was the moon’s ambiguity. The sun was as it was: creator and destroyer. But the moon had made everyone aware of malleability and change. You might be crazy, but then you could be sane again: you might be empty, but then you could be full once more. The moon had been the brightness that you could look at without being blinded. And now it had gone.