One day she will find herself on the moon.
It begins like this: someone, probably her mother, tells her to cut off the smelly kelp growing on her skin. She takes a pair of rusty garden shears and cuts. Later, she wraps them into small bundles and throws them into the sea one by one. They sink in like dark pebbles. She does this until her skin grows afraid of water.
Under the sun, people gather around her like moths, their hairy bodies clinging to her arms, legs and face. Then, they crawl inside her through the gap between her front teeth until they reach her belly. Here, they dig for treasure. When they find it, they shit on it.
At night, she asks her father for a hazel twig to plant. She knows from fairy tales that a hazel twig planted on a mother’s grave can grant wishes. And right now, her wish is to feel nothing when she feels everything. She would like to thin out. Her father is in front of her, but also a hundred steps away and cannot hear her. Also, her mother is alive.
The moon lies on average 240,000 miles away from Earth, but when she closes her eyes, she is there.
The moon carries with it an absence of winds, of breath, of spoken words. And of existence. But the footprints she leaves on the moon’s grey mantle tell her that she will exist there forever. Nothing gets erased on the moon. She smiles at the idea of being in a place that will never forget her. This immutability causes the hole in her belly to shrink a little.
She walks for what seems like a very long time, although how to measure time on the moon is unknown. She walks until she reaches the border between the light and dark side of the moon, and there she sees a house. The house resembles the dollhouse she played with as a child when she first learned how women were expected to stay still inside their own.
The dollhouse on the moon is made of glass, pristine and spotless. Its interior is filled with hazel trees sprouting from the floor and growing toward the ceiling, crystallized in their beautiful form. Their branches cover rows of human statues lined up in empty rooms, each of different sexes and ages, but all with the same void expressions. Who they were, where they came from, she does not know. Somewhere, deep inside, she feels she should question it.
She stays on the moon until the space between her front teeth has almost faded away. Like a door closing. She stays thinking there will still be time to come back. But there is a clock, there is always a clock. The clock inside the dollhouse has broken hands and does not strike midnight. In its centre, a carved face of a very old woman murmurs words in a low tone. Words she cannot hear.
“One day on the moon is one year on Earth.”
“How does one wake up from living inside oneself?”
One day, almost by mistake, she will glance at what was once her home from one of the windows of the dollhouse. At first, Earth will seem to her just like a thick dot of blue paint on a black canvas, an unremarkable drop of water suspended in a dark ocean. But then something on the surface will move. Up and down like the movement of a chest, like a being breathing. A belly full of life. From the moon, she will see the tides, the dance of water.
The sight will flow through her like a swift movement that is a change of states.
Like a pair of maternal eyes that disappear in the circular motion of the carousel and then reappear where they have always been.
Like the moon becoming full after countless nights of darkness to bring back the light as promised.
Like the sound of crows at dusk, heralding the coming of night, for it is as important as the beginning of the day.
Like her, who, after keeping her eyes closed for so long, will open them again as she leaps between the thin slit of her teeth and dives underwater.
One day she will find herself on the moon, and one day she will return. She will re-emerge after reclaiming all of herself and, for the first time, as she feels everything, she will be as light as kelp floating on the sea.
Gessica Sakamoto Martini (she/her) holds a PhD in Evolutionary Anthropology from Durham University (UK). Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Corvid Queen, Alternative Stories & Fake Realities podcast, and Seize The Press Magazine. She can be found on Twitter at @GJMartini talking about fairy tale symbolism. She is currently based in Italy.
photo by NASA (via unsplash)