WHAT’S AFTER THE MOON
Inspired by Buzz Aldrin
I saw Mark only once and awhile. What with all the interviews, TV appearances, publishing companies ringing up his telephone trying to get a book deal, it was hard to get ahold of him. When I did, it was usually in a bar.
Felt like he was doing okay, felt like he was the same Mark until he came back to the booth. He put his hand on the table to steady himself before landing on the seat with a thud. I asked if he was doing all right; he didn’t say much.
He hasn’t said much since the moon landing. Maybe it’s all the talking to reporters, maybe he’s just spent from it. It’s when the bar gets dimmer that I notice how his face has changed slightly. It’s puffier, like he’s stuffed with too much oxygen.
He puts his lips up to the glass glistening nicely in the sharp, pale table light. The bare round bulb clarifying the vodka as it slides translucent through the ice. So Mark, I say. Tell me what the moon was like. He didn’t say anything.
He’s said in interviews how the rock formations in the distance loomed peacefully. How it looked like the clouds had fallen, leaving the ground comforting, the sky deep and possible. How he somehow knew this was the best his life was going to get.
He shook his head and stared at his drink. His eyelid got a little red, like he had something stuck in it, and I could tell just by lookin’ at him he was bout to get up, get another drink so I asked him, okay, well what was earth like? What did the earth look like from up there?
And his attention turned back to me. Nobody’s really asked me that, he said. He picked up his glass absentmindedly, moved it from his right side to his left and placed it down, like an orbiting planet, I guess. The earth is blue, he said. Just blue.