The Ruler of the Moon

Submitted into Contest #243 in response to: Write a story about a character who wakes up in space.... view prompt

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Contemporary Fiction Speculative

For a second or maybe hours, she feels a heaviness that presses her onto a spongy-bouncy-like surface and debris poking at her back, and then a heat that rises within her starting at the sole of her feet and on through her eyes. “There is a sandstorm,” she thinks as an American flag comes into focus. " Finally,” she says faintly as her forehead is stamped by a man in a strange suit with ‘You have arrived.’

The last thing she remembers is the thrill she felt seeing the joy in his eyes when she told him she was going to the moon.

She didn't mean the moon. Who says that? She meant - I'm going to hell. Not because she had been bad as she was accused of being since she was five – she was just finally getting out and never coming back. But his stare swallowed her bravado which she had no problem displaying when she was running around doing crazy things. Although to her, they were not crazy. They were what saved her. She was more calculating than she was ever given credit for, and she always looked behind her.


“I am going to the moon,” she said to her father when she was nine. She wore her white jumper suit and helmet and ran through the house. She heard laughter behind her, and she found this odd. She wondered why they were laughing. From the top of the roof, she looked at the sky and she raised her arms as she daringly jumped towards the sky.

When she was a teen, she challenged her fate. She would simply look up into the sky and stare straight into her soul and call out her cowardice -- try to stop me -- she would say. And off into the night she went leaving her parents in a silent panic. Her mother would sleep on the sofa in the hopes she would return before sunrise and her father would pace half the night in her bedroom before surrendering to sleep.


One day, when she was sixteen, she dared to dream. She was in her robotics class, and she dreamt about the moon. She imagined herself there all on her own – she would be the ruler of the moon. This made everyone around her happy. They showered her with attention and praise but something about that made her feel uneasy, as if she was conforming. So, she dropped it.


On her 20th birthday, she came home fifteen minutes past midnight and was surprised not to see her mother on the couch but she suppressed any turmoil rising in her gut and proceeded down the hall passing the dining room table decorated with confetti and cake. At the foot of her bedroom door, she saw the shadow of shuffling feet and she turned and walked out.


She traveled through deserts and mountains trying to reach the sky and confront it face to face. She stayed away from the beach although the strangers she met tried dragging her to its shore. She feared the ocean and she knew she could not defy it for it would swallow her without hesitation. She was a better runner than a swimmer.


At 22, she was gently woken by the moon. It led her home. Her bedroom light was still on, and her bed was neatly made. The bookcase was intact, filled with rows of her favorite books and her RCA record player that her grandfather gave her still worked. She played, Fly Me To The Moon. In the corner of her room, she noticed her white astronaut suit she got on her ninth birthday. It is full of stains and memories. She tried to settle.


For a while, she dreamt again of the moon - the highlands and its dormant volcanoes and each night she hid in a different crater with her dreams. Her days were spent visiting planetariums and devouring facts on physical environments and the Earth’s relationship with the moon. The praises about her above-average grades and “you are doing so well now,” always made her shrug and she dismissed them with disgust. The smiles offered to her were terrifying as she presumed they were fake, and she felt a chill each time she was approached by a hand wanting to tap her head in approval. This did not suit her well. She saw everyone around her trying to sabotage her journey and she knew their actions were suspicious.


She ran, barefooted, into the woods. She felt the mud underneath her toes and liked how it was real. The sun shining in through the trees that did not ask for anything but provide shade and allow her to breathe – gave her the most comfort during this time. One of her favorite parts of the day was welcoming the sunrise which brought promises and cleansed her body and mind.


For decades, she mostly walked alone but strangers still dragged her out. They pulled her and filled her head with psychedelic colors and pretty songs. She believed their words and intentions and briefly felt happiness. But the light of the moon usually revealed the ugly truth, and she would run – always looking back.


Now at 48, she glances at the sky timidly but still defiant. With her hands in her pocket and her neck bent back, she challenges her once again knowing she can deliver devastating blows. She no longer feels the excitement, but it is what she knows so off she goes in the opposite direction – into the darkness of the night.

"Luna, I knew you would make it to the moon. You were born in 1976 and you were destined to reach..."

She ran out and slammed the door leaving trapped all the words she always heard her father say. She imagined them floating above his head – bumping into each other with nowhere to go.


And now, for a split second, she knows she is there – her beloved moon is finally her home. She settles and the lights go out.


March 25, 2024 21:40

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1 comment

Cecilia Borraez
04:34 Mar 31, 2024

Great story!!


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