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A Trip to the Moon

Published : Saturday, 11 May, 2024 at 12:00 AM  Count : 557

We held a meeting in the bathroom, where there were no heating vents to carry our voices throughout the house like ghosts. A unanimous vote to do the chores because how would Mom do them? After her right arm disappeared, which wasn a big deal because she was a lefty, one of her legs vanished.

She still looked like a movie star with bright red lipstick and blue eyeshadow and milky pale skin. When her arm left, we thought it was a fluke, and it would eventually return. Maybe it got tired of all the chores or went to New York, where she wanted to go and see the play Merrily We Roll Along on Broadway. Dad said maybe, but they never went anywhere. When her left leg disappeared, her arm still hadn returned from wherever it went, and now she had to hop.

We did the laundry and made scrambled eggs and picked up our clothes and shoved them in our drawers. We took her credit card and went to the grocery store.

Wheres your mother? said the clerk, frowning.
She sent us, we said.

When she handed us the bag, we ran outside and ate all the chocolate bars. On the back lawn, we played with our dolls, dressing them, undressing them, and then Lucy snapped off her dolls arm. Like Mom, we whispered, and Gloria and I did the same. Then we broke off one leg and played like that, hopping them around until they got tired and sad, and we laid them down in the grass.

At dinner, Mom sat quietly at her usual spot, and Dad didn say anything about Mom, maybe because Moms empty sweater sleeve was not in his view, and her one leg was under the table. He always had a lot to say, and Mom rarely said anything anyway, and her hair still curled under her chin like two hands holding up her head. We did our usual "Yes sir, no sir, yes sir," and then his chair scraped against the floor, the TV blared a football game, and Mom hopped to the bedroom.
 
Weeks went by, and when nothing more of her disappeared, we got busy with our lives: riding our banana seat bikes in the cul-de-sac, playing chase and headless horseman. We fought over who got to be the headless horseman. Lucy punched my shoulder hard, and I grabbed her hair. When we realized Mom wouldn run out and break it up, we stopped fighting, and I said Lucy won, and that settled it.

We stopped doing chores. We hated them and it took time away from our childhood, which Mom had said was precious, the best of times, the freest. Dirty laundry piled up, so did dishes and dust. So what?
When we got home from school, Moms mouth was gone. We stood there and stared. How would she eat? How would she tell us what to do? I voted yes to call an ambulance; they voted no. Mom signaled with her one hand, No need, girls. Things are going the way they are going.

Dad came home, ate, and filled the room with news of his day.
Well, thats all Ive got to report, he said and left for the TV room.
We knew we were learning something profound and filed it away to be sorted later.

It wasn long after that Mom turned into mist. We couldn believe it, we could put our hands right through her, and when we thought we heard her laugh, we did it again and again, and we laughed. It was a game; Mom had invented a new game. Like the game she played at night, inventing another part of the story of the girl who flew to the moon. Then Mom disappeared, every bit of her.

We hurled words into the air; they were stones, and we aimed them at the place where Mom had stood a moment ago, but they didn hit anything. How could she! Enraged, we ran outside in the fading light and found our dolls in the wet grass. No one said anything, but we knew what to do. We dug a hole underneath the rhododendrons and buried them deep in the dirt. Something big had just happened, or it had been happening our entire lives. We stood in the emptiness, and the dark capsized and covered us and everything else in the world.

Courtesy: Flash Fiction Magazine







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