It is dusk, the town nearly blanketed by the darkness. The sunset fades and the city chatter dies. The lights in the houses are turned off, one by one. The bars are still open, with a few drunken guests. Most families are just sitting down to dinner or have already finished. The stars glitter high in the turquoise sky, the glowing white moon looking two-dimensional in the vastness that is the universe.
The moon is hanging, suspended. White, gray, yellow. Shining. It is just hanging there, like a paper lantern, illuminating the night. The moon, they say, has a man stuck in it. The moon, I’ve heard, is made of cheese.
Late at night, squinting, dreaming, I can almost see the little prince standing on its surface. He’s calling out to me, dancing on the rocky terrain. His face is plastered on the side of the moon that’s facing me.
So far away, the moon looks fragile. The moon seems flimsy, like it could tear easily into tiny bits and then the giant hand would open and the pieces would fall down like papery rain and cover the earth like snow.
One could walk through that snow, kicking up bits of paper like leaves. It would make the world beautiful, vulnerable.
The moon is a delicate thing, a shimmering orb in the indigo sky. It could easily be lassoed or shot with an arrow, easily ripped and wrenched from the sky.
It is midnight now, the town sound asleep, as I walk through the streets. It’s springtime. I can smell the flowers and hear the owls calling to one another. It is a time for foxes and wolves to explore the town. Raccoons steal from trashcans, tiny thieving masked bandits.
But I am not afraid. I see through the shadows and know what’s lurking unseen. I know they will not hurt me. I am safe, by the light of the paper moon.
The moon swings, as if on a pendant. It floats loosely on a string, painted and thin.
Unseen, I let the mask slide off. I let my fake smile vanish. By the dim light of the paper moon, I feel understood.