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Touching the Moon
I wondered what it was like to touch the moon.
People said that the moon was hard, crusty and dismally cold. People say a lot of things, and quite often, they are not right. I imagined the moon to be just like a glass of half-and-half, straight from the fridge. The moon was cool, but only pleasantly so, and to rub it felt like skimming your finger atop a glass of cream. Yes, that was what the moon was like. I knew it.
I knew that just like I knew that my brother was alive. It was an indubitable fact, engraved in my mind as if I had taken a wedge and carved it in myself. He may not have been in Maine, but I knew he was alive, somewhere. He had to be.
I vaguely remember the day we got a knock at a door and a call from the Church, seeing the face of a concerned Stake President and hearing the voice of a grieved Mission one. One was here to offer us solace and care and the other was arranging how my brother’s personal effects should be sent to us.
“Oh, we love you so much, Autrey’s. If there’s anything we could ever do for you, don’t hesitate to ask. We love you, we really do...”
“Sister Autrey, I’m sorry to inform you, but your son has committed suicide. He jumped off the cliffs at Cape Clear in Orem, Maine. We will send his personal effects to you…”
Have you ever lost a sibling? At first, the news is flooring. You feel like you’ve been ripped apart, like your right arm and leg have been flung somewhere deep into outer space and your left ones have been mangled beyond use. Then, the gravity of the fact that you’ll never see them again sets in. All of a sudden, guilt from deeds long forgotten rushes in and crushes you, along with the gargantuan wish that you could go back and spend more time with your lost friend. It’s a wonderful awakening. It’s also a horrible sensation.
But even then, I knew that they were not right. People seldom are right. If they were always right, I wouldn’t be alive either, and if I was, my existence would be miserable, and it’s not.
I immediately filed that day under the part of my mind that registers unimportant details. This was a quibble, merely an argument. It was an incorrect one, at that. My brother had merely faked his death. He was alive and well, traveling around New England, taking in the sights and sounds during the prime of his youth. He would, of course, make his way back home. He would just take his time doing it.
That day was the day before August Tenth, Two-Thousand-Eleven, which was the first day of my junior year in high school. I could remember Mother hugging me tight before I left to drive to school. I could still smell the fancy perfume that clung to her, marred by the aroma of sunshine toast. “Are you sure you want to go to school today? You don’t have to if you don’t want to.”
I hugged her back and smiled. “Of course I do. Why wouldn’t I?”
Mother was so easily befuddled. “Your brother just died. Do you care at all?”
I smiled at her. “He’s not dead, Mother. He’s still alive. I know it. I can feel him.”
I owned that school, like my brother before me. I was the smartest person there. I was the student. The best one. I made the highest scores on standardized tests, I solved my sums the quickest, I corrected the most grammar, and I defused the most fights. I was simply the best student there, just like my brother was. We were both perfect.
I slept on the roof after he died. I found it easier to sleep there, under the gaze of the moon. That was the connection I felt to him. It was then, when I was staring at the moon, that I could hear his thoughts. We were bound as tightly as ever, our joint psyche convening beneath the comfort of the moon. Clear or cloudy, I snuck out to the roof at night, scrambling up the ladder to feel his presence.
I stayed awake for days at a time, listening for him, waiting for him. If anything, my extended bout of consciousness strengthened me. I was enlightened. I knew everything, even better than I had before. I knew the cure to cancer, but you wouldn’t believe me if I told you. I knew whether or not there was a god, but again, you wouldn’t believe me if I told you.
People get so used to hearing other people say wrong things that they don’t recognize when someone says something that’s right.
It was during this time I realized that I didn’t need school. I was beyond that. I already knew everything they were teaching, even better than the teachers themselves. I didn’t need to be involved in school, around such a great mass of insanity.
Insanity is infectious, and the only way to keep from getting infected is to avoid it.
I still stayed on the roof, months after our first reconnection. Mother and Father tried to take me to counselors, first secular ones, and then ones from the Church. How foolish. It’s surprising that such a large majority of people are insane, and it’s even more so to learn that your own parents are among that number.
I saw my brother in the boughs of the mimosa, once. It was in full bloom. He hid his smile behind the stringy pink blossoms. He talked to me, more often than he did before. He even brought me things from faraway places, like France, Japan and Hawaii. He had covered so much ground in such little time. I squirreled the gifts away in a fault in the roof, saving them for the day when he showed himself to Mother and Father, so I could pull them out and say ‘I told you so.’
One night, he took my hand. “I want you to see something spectacular,” he told me. “I discovered how to travel between dimensions. Sometimes it’s a little dangerous, so hold on to me tight.” We walked hand and hand, tearing through unfamiliar woods and skirting distant lakes. We walked for days and nights, never letting go of each other. “Just a little farther,” he’d coax me when I complained of hunger or fatigue.
It was the fifth night when we finally stopped. Before us stretched a long strip, illuminated beneath the moon that had connected us for so long. My brother noticed me fawning after it and asked me what I thought about. “Just the moon,” I mused, “I’ve always wondered what it would be like to touch it.”
He smiled, showing the perfect teeth that were so much like Father’s and squinting the eyes that were so much like Mother’s. I wondered how the two were. “I will take you there. Even though it can be used to access a different dimension, I can stop the process when we get close to the moon. There will be enough power behind us that we’ll glide neatly to its surface.’
I squeezed his hand. “That sounds great.”
A blinding light appeared far away on the strip. “This is it!” my brother cried. “This is the portal! Stay hold of me, and don’t tense your muscles. It’ll sting a little, but it’ll really hurt if you tense up.”
I swallowed, nervous, but my brother had never led me into anything that would hurt me. Stalwart, I anchored myself on the ground at his side. “Okay, I’m ready. How exactly does this work?”
“It’s hard to explain. I’ll just have to tell you later. Right now, I want you to focus on the moon. The mechanics behind it have something to do with the String Theory. By thinking about it, you will be placed there.”
“Ah!” I gasped. “How simple! How could I not have seen this before....”
“The moon,” my brother reminded me patiently.
I nodded and closed my eyes, relaxing myself before the light. I could see it burning through my eyelids. An awful noise started ringing through my head, resounding as it bounced down my ear canals. I opened my eyes, greeting the light.
That night, I touched the moon, and I haven’t yet looked back.