July-August 2020 | Short Stories & Essays

Day moon

2020 Short Story & Essay Contest: First Place, Adult Essay Contest

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There. In the sky above the trees. That faint smudge. A Day Moon.

I’m down here in the driveway, balancing dry cleaning, car keys, morning coffee, shopping list. The car needs gas. Normally I wouldn’t notice, but today, well, I look up. A Day Moon. What to make of this dim fingerprint of a shape hovering over the Norway spruce?

Our Moon is an inanimate object floating in airless space. We learned that in elementary school. But for me, right now, Day Moon assumes an identity quite separate from its astronomical self.

Oh I know, the real Moon, the Moon Moon, is large—a quarter the size of our Earth. Almost big enough to be a planet. It’s venerable—about 4.5 billion years old. Something to be reckoned with.

But right now? It’s small, approachable.

In spectacles of technology, humans have indeed approached Day Moon. Circled it, landed on it, shuffled through its dust, bounced over its rocks in a lunar dune buggy. They’ve flailed their golf clubs and planted a flag. This happened. But all that has little to do with me and Day Moon.

Here on Earth we have our schedules. If I don’t do these errands soon, I’ll be late for the rest of the day. Day Moon knows nothing, cares nothing, for my reverie or my to-do list. It has, after all, its own routines. Like us, it’s on the move. It rotates the Earth at a speed of 2,288 mph. A speed that puts to shame any human, high achieving or otherwise, even on a good day.

And Day Moon has the task of synchronizing its rotation with the mother planet (that’s us). That’s why we earthlings always see the same lunar side. This we also learned in school. It’s impressive. We all know what it takes to synchronize our movements with others. Don’t get me started on committees. Or carpools.

Moon’s a multitasker, controlling the tides and stabilizing our earthly rotation. And it does this while stoically weathering the impact of meteoroids and their ilk.

Yet here is Day Moon, not in the spotlight of its nighttime cameo, but unobtrusive and pale. Hard to believe this is the same object, that gigantic red disc, that lorded over us in September. Or the luminescent sickle slicing the sky in February. This morning it’s blurred, indeterminate. A blob. I can relate to blobs. Sometimes I long to be a blob.

No doubt Day Moon is oblivious, but for this earthling our encounter is a boon. Brief and silent recognition of mutual existence in an immensity far beyond our understanding. We are fellow voyagers, Day Moon and I, appointed by powers of which we know little, to tasks we don’t always choose. We do our jobs.

Sometimes we shine. Other days we’re just getting by. It’s a comfort to think we’re not alone.

Alicia Klaffky

Lives in: Kensington

Age: 72

What she does: “I finally have time to write! I hope to someday finish a novel. In the meantime, I’m spending my retirement years devoting the time to writing that I couldn’t find while working, raising two sons and volunteering for the National Society of Arts and Letters.”

Favorite place to write: “A small and messy room off the bedroom with a view of trees and sky. Looking out on nature is calming. It gives me a sense of perspective.”

Favorite Author: “Ursula K. Le Guin, for her eloquence, mythic vision and moral compass. In 1999, I was honored to attend a workshop she led at Bethesda’s own The Writer’s Center. And she told me to keep on writing. So I have.”

How she got the idea for this essay: “Just a moment of reflection while standing in the driveway.”