Essay

The Sea of Tranquility is on the Moon [Short Fiction]

 

They watched the moon in the sky above the ocean. They watched the few strands of clouds that passed across its full face. They then looked to the reflection the full moon left on the ocean water, the color of squid ink. They watched the band of full-moon light as it rippled in reflection with the wavelets on the ocean as it was ruffled by the breeze out of the North East.

He recollected then having recalled–does he need to re-examine how recollecting and recalling differ, or how neither shares absolute synonymy with remembering. Yes, he recalled a time standing at the shore in Montauk watching the wavelets on the water in the morning and how they looked like aluminum foil caps, these wavelets reflecting the morning sun, tiny ripples on the ocean beyond where the waves rise, curl, turn in on themselves, tumbling over and crashing into the surf.

His dad and he had looked at the shadows on the face of the moon called seas for how long before they got a telescope when he was a boy of seven, the large cratered areas they once imagined must have been water, and then for how long with the telescope after he had bought it for him, the dad for the son . . . the man in the moon is a mask the goddess of the moon wears, he remembered his dad had said.

Diana wears the mask of a man . . . he sees him, he imagines, his Dad, with his hands, the so large of his hands (as he has said before and written after this before)–he sees his Dad raising his arm as he pointed them out to him, these seas, and how, as they looked through the telescope his dad had bought for him; his dad described where he could find the Sea of Tranquility; and he then said that that’s where they are going to land . . . his dad and he following NASA’s process to the moon. He watched Alan Shepard take off.

And now . . . looking at the seas on the face through the telescope, The Sea of Serenity, he remembers, yes, Mare Serentitatis, The Sea of Tranquility, the latter where we were going to land in a couple of years after looking at the moon for the first time through his telescope, older he would be. What was he again? He was seven, or almost, when he said it, in Latin first, Mare Tranquilitatis, no place for the opera-loving cop’s four years of Latin, the boy thought then, he remembers–the New York Time’s crossword puzzles offered a spot or was it respite, he recollected now and then. Then in English, he said what he had said in Latin–we eventually landed when he was nearly eleven, ten that July, 1969, the first words from the surface of the moon were, Houston, the Eagle has landed . . . trivia on something a lot more than trivial.

He remembers this–he remembered this before how many times, how many times has he said this, all of it bullshit–what is that supposed to mean? This thing we call trivia, what is and is not nonsense–and he broke, he did, not completely as he had predicted before he died, when he died, in shock, his dad dead? I did not ask. Of course he was, how many days at his feet, the night before sleeping at his feet, his head on his bed at his feet, a Viking dog? “I really could not feel anything–everything shattered,” he said. “I have dropped glasses before,” he said. “I remember a glass I dropped, and I worried about pieces, slivers in my foot for weeks after,” he said.

What then?

“I recollect rising tides, rising moons, sun rise at the Point,” he said. “I remember the lighthouse, the shore at Ditch Plains, at Hither Hills, the Hoo Doos below the cliffs of Shadmoor,” he said. “I think I remember our first time there, in Montauk together, a photo of my dad with his feet in the surf, his feet being sucked under the wet sands. The photo does not show him losing his balance briefly or gaining it again as he did, not falling. I see a time when I was a little boy, and I was following my dad who was walking up a concrete path outlined by patches of lawn in approach to a car dealer I am almost sure it was where we were; and my dad was picking up his step, with me just a little bit behind him, how old was I maybe 5, was it when I was five, I can barely see it now, except in the fragments of what happened, I used to be able to see the motion picture of it I think I can remember seeing in my mind; but there was a slight pick up to his step and he entered the dealer which had big thick heavy glass doors, the kind I do not see anymore anywhere really–or do I? I remember not having fallen too far behind because as my dad opened the door I ran quickly to get the door but my timing was off or my dad’s was off, which would have been unusual because he was the most careful dad I had ever seen the way he walked with me when he did, showing me what he showed me, telling me what he told me, explaining what he explained; anyway, I ran up to catch the door as it was closing and seemed to get my had caught in the between the two doors and it didn’t get crushed or broken or even stuck but it did get scraped as I had to pull it back quickly as the doors were about to align themselves in their closed position. I do not remember screaming or crying but I must have said something because my dad turned immediately around and came out for I was on the outside and he was on the inside and he took my hand and looked at it and asked me something I think about pain how it felt if it were broken he checked I am sure I can see. I was in my dad’s arms and I felt safe and secure and everything was going to be okay I can be pretty assured in imagining I must have thought,” he said he had said to a friend at a bar.

 

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