Far away and a long time before

Tomorrow it will be 39 years since the first man walked on the moon. On December 14th, it will be 36 years since the last one. This picture was taken on the next to last mission by Charles Duke:

“Told you so!” Cholly shouted with a seven-year-old’s self-righteous glee.

Isaac’s skepticism was near total. Not only was he nine and doubting everything, but he had never ever admitted his sister was right. Then there was the matter of the room they were in. It was huge and dark and at the back of an old building, with aisles and aisles of shelves that reached to the ceiling where the light bulbs gave off a dim, green light. They had been let into the room by a woman who seemed as old as the building. She had very little hair and wrinkles everywhere and had smiled at Cholly, but only lowered her eyelids and snorted when she met Isaac. In short, Isaac was scared. And the more scared he felt, the more he couldn’t possibly admit Cholly was right.

But there it was, in a permanent book. That made him even more nervous. Almost every book he’d ever seen was printed out then cycled when you were done with it. His parents only had one permanent at home. It was very old. Bible, they called it. Which was the story of God. Isaac wasn’t sure who God was, but knew God was big and dangerous. As much as possible he avoided being alone in the room with Bible. So books scared him, too. And he had been telling Cholly it was all impossible since yesterday. People gone to the moon. Not really.

Yesterday Cholly had come home and that was all she would talk about.

“I saw it. I saw the pictures.” She was whining because instead of wanting to go see it, he just said it never happened.

“I’d have known about it,” he said with a nine-year-old’s unshakable certainty.

“I’ll show you,” she said, making it sound like a threat.

But she saw she wasn’t getting anywhere and she ran to Da. Isaac followed behind, wanting to know. Da was in the kitchen, where Ma was cleaning up before going to work. The room and all the fixtures in it were light blue like every other room and building in the complex.

“Da, tell Isaac it’s true.”

“Cholly,” Ma had said, the one word warning her against running into the room so fast, talking so loud. She waved her hand at the video screen floating over the dinner table to lower the volume and lessen the din in the room. But it was a Council screen so you could never turn it all the way off or the volume all the way down.

“What’s true?” Da asked.

“About the men. On the moon.”

“You mean the man on the moon? He’s a big old guy.” Da always talked slowly, with funny voices and a lot of smiling. All the kids loved him, Cholly most of all. But he scared Isaac sometimes. It worried him that Da never talked like other grownups. Cholly couldn’t remember when Da didn’t talk the way he did now but Isaac did. It was years ago, before he went away to war. Which was something he was never supposed to talk about.

“No, no, nooo. About the people walked on the moon.”

“Oh, that,” he said, giving Ma that wink he thought the kids never saw.

“I’m serious, Da.”

“Where’d you hear something like that?” Ma asked with a hard tone and Cholly suddenly thought she’d done something wrong.

Read the rest of Fading Moon here.