“Albert! Albert Daniel Carlisle! Are you quite finished out there? The baby’s in bed; I don’t want you to wake her when you come in and slam the screen door.”
I ignored my mother from my rock in the clearing, rewiring the connection in my brain to displace the scolding. My arms folded behind my head, pressed close to my ears, an involuntary reaction to my mother’s voice. Now muffled, a few last squawks from her beak and the screen door slammed shut, a wry grin on my face at her hypocrisy.
The sliver of mozzarella between the glowing stars held my eyes, my heart. My arms relaxed and started to numb, sleepy, but I didn’t care.
Transfixing: the only word I thought of to describe it. The moon. My moon. The only sad nights were cloudy ones, rainy ones, in which he disappeared into shadow and I, left alone, had to settle for my imagination. He was my only thought, my only dream. If only I could somehow carve a bit of Parmesan from his pockmarked nose, I could die happy.
Mother told me about the Man in the Moon in bedtime stories, not knowing of the obsession she would create. I only watched “It’s a Wonderful Life” to see Mary’s drawing “George Lassoes the Moon.”
“Albert lassoes the moon,” Mother told me once.
My rock, my moon - friends who knew everything, more than Mother, more than my brothers and sisters. I swore in the darkness, cried, laughed.
Tonight I threw a party. They were going to the moon; they would bring back moon-cheese. I could already imagine it: creamy, tangy, melting in my mouth. I wanted to have the Moon inside of me, beside my heart, glowing, shining from my fingertips, to have a friend despite the unpleasant weather.
Mother didn’t believe in television - “it stunts the growth of young imaginations” - so I watched the moon. I imagined the astronauts skipping across his face, snapping photographs like a family visiting Disneyland. I imagined Neil Armstrong frying up a grilled moon-cheese sandwich, dusting the crumbs from his lips and letting them float out into the blackness like dull stardust.
A cloud passed over his glowing face, and I closed my eyes. I heard my mother calling from the front step once more.
“Albert ... I saved you a bowl of macaroni. It’s on the stove. I put the baby in the back room, so stay out as long as you want. I’ll leave the light on.”
I opened my eyes. I could see the moon still hovering over my face. I could hear the remorse in my mother’s voice - she was, after all, a grown-up, and what do they know about moon cheese?
I rolled off the rock, slid my bare feet through the wet grass. My mother’s eyes shone from the warm glow of the moon, watching me through the living room window.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.