You were a strange boy who claimed ants are mammals and can speak African dialects. You told me that grass oozes blood when cut by a lawnmower. You said rice can be explosive when dipped in mud, but only at dawn. You said you learned these facts from leaked government documents and archaic religious tomes. There was a madcap coherence to your arguments and a fizz in your eyes when you spoke. I was naive, I listened.
I wanted to believe you, in fact; the you who sat alone in the library, bag of frosted candy resting on your lap, scouring medical dictionaries with a magnifying glass and a highlighter pen; the you who printed leaflets saying DEATH TO FAMINE and dispersed them to chubby preteens queuing for lunch in the school canteen; the you who calmly wiped fellow students’ spit from your bicycle every day before you rode home.
One afternoon, after studying an obscure Greek philosopher throughout the night, you showed up at my door with swollen eyes and a pronounced nasal twitch. You babbled in manic spurts, saying there’s no such thing as a full moon, that the pitted façade — beaten by rogue comets, pummelled by asteroids – never becomes fully whole; that the lunar movements are always, to some degree, cast in shadow, and all the astronomers are idiotic fools. You said don’t go searching the internet either, it’s all fake news and deceit.
For once I didn’t want to believe you. Surely, I had seen a full moon every month as I sat on my parents’ gable rooftop smoking menthol cigarettes. And each moon meant something, something that gathered my discordant selves, and wove them into one.
So, I challenged you to prove your theory on a night a full moon was due. We trekked out to the edge of town where the light was clean and pure and watched the moon rise from the trees. It came to rest in a clear corner of the sky, stars dancing beside the pale orb.
Elated and awed, I swallowed hard. For once, the cold grip of my youthful gloom was smothered by the imposing sight. But you killed my mood instantly, you said that it was just the light of the planet Venus reflecting off a weather balloon, nothing more.
Now it’s my turn to have a say. I say you’re a liar, and there’s not just one full moon in a month, but a full moon every night — moons lurking outside my bedroom window in the rain; moons reflecting off pavement puddles; even moons blinking as I cover my eyes with the palm of my hand. That way I will never go wanting. That way they will always be real, and that way I’ll make sure you never get into my head ever again.
Tim Frank’s short stories have been published in Wrongdoing Magazine, Eunoia Review, The Metaworker, Brilliant Flash Fiction, Maudlin House and elsewhere. He was runner-up in The Forge Literary Flash Fiction competition ‘22. He has been nominated for Best Small Fictions ’22. He is the associate fiction editor for Able Muse Literary Journal and lives with his wife in North London, England.
image: John Bottomley. Find him on Instagram and order prints here.