When I Felt No Doubt in the Moon – Jude Conlee
When I Felt No Doubt in the Moon
MY WHOLE LIFE, I wondered if the moon was real. It seemed plausible to me that it was; then again, it seemed plausible to me that it wasn’t. Sometimes I thought it to be a fake placed in the sky whenever people were looking but cleverly hidden whenever people weren’t. Other times, my speculations ran along the lines that it was a mass conspiracy, put forth by the government, to see if they could successfully induce a mass hallucination in the entire population. But most of the time, I thought it was something that I and only I could see, and that everyone played along with my reports of a bright silver circle in the night sky, leaving me in isolation and in the dark, the same kind of dark my imaginary celestial object shone most brightly.
When it happened, it was three in the morning, and I was walking home after having quandaried over going to a particular party, decided at last in favor of it, and spending all of ten minutes there before deciding that I should leave and spend the time taking a walk around the block on. The walk felt infinite in its looping course. I was alone. The moon was the only attendee.
I looked to the moon and I asked it, “Are you real?”
The moon spoke to me, as I had someday known it would. It said, I am as real as you are.
“And how real is that?”
I said no more to the moon. Always, I pictured our first interaction as brief but to-the-point, terse without rudeness. It was two nights later that I spoke to it again. I was in my back yard, staring up into the sky and by extension the expanse of outer space beyond it, staring in its direction with my uncomprehending human eyes. I was only out there for the moon.
I said, “Moon. Why have you never told me if you were real?”
I had been here all this time. You should have asked sooner.
“But why would you look over me for so long if you would only leave me to question if what looked over me was real or not real?”
You mistake constancy for guardianship. I am not your guardian; until this moment, you had always been mine. And you performed your duty with the utmost faithfulness.
You are the only person on the face of this Earth who asked if I was real and, in doing so, asked anything of me. Those apart from you take me for granted, as they take everything else in this world. You were and are the only one to ever question.
“The only one?”
The only one.
“What must I do?”
You must wait, and all the while, you must keep your vigil.
I did not know what the moon meant by “vigil”, but I had a very close idea. To keep vigil was to watch, was to guard, was to be ready to act and to perceive at all times. To keep vigil was to be vigilant, to maintain vigilance, to enact the words derived from that root. I maintained my vigilance of the moon – thinking thoughts of its nature during the day, remembering constantly its presence over me at night. I felt moonlight, and I knew the moon.
I grew ever more watchful, and my devotion increased with each day. I spoke its name when it slept, and I looked at it with intent when it awoke. I carved the moonlight into my brain, and my brain filled with eyes to look upon its image in my head.
“Moon,” I said one night, in my back yard, standing upon a monument of bricks I had constructed upon which to stand and observe it from a greater height. “Moon, do you see me?”
“You see my vigil?”
“Will you tell me why you did as you did in the years past?”
Soon. Your faith is proving itself.
“Faith? Are you thus expecting worship, as a deity?”
I require no cultish adoration but I expect a continuous memory of my existence. You doubted all these years and now you must make up for it. You must atone for your doubt by doing its opposite at all moments.
The opposite of doubt is certainty, and I chose to remain certain at all times. No thoughts crossed my mind as I thought and thought of the moon and its state of being. At first questions slithered across the surface of my brain, like that of how I had doubted and why fate should conspire that I do such a thing as question whether the moon was real. But the eyes in my head blinked those questions away and kept me from sacrilege.
My pile of bricks grew higher, and I added rocks to its height, and it became not a mere monument but an observatory. Its constituents stained my hands with their surfaces, yet I continued to live in spite of the dust-red patches that remained. I was given an invitation to another party at this time. I accepted so I could leave ten minutes in and spend the rest of the night’s duration under the eye of the white circle in the ever-lengthening night sky.
I looked into the eye of the moon and I saw what every culture has seen, that shaded figure that some say is a man’s face and some say is a woman’s form and some say is a rabbit or a dog or a tree, but I saw it for what it was, and it was myself, the realest of figures to ever stand on the ground and see the moon back, it was myself and I was the home of a thousand arrows with needle-tips of light and shafts of dust and they shattered as they shot into every place I could be shot, and the me-in-the-moon was writhing but it was not with pain, it was with transformation, it was with joy as the eyes inside my brain became the norm across my skin, and the brick-dust and the stone-markings became my glory, and I was crowned with many crowns and hailed as the monarch of the single face, the face that knew not anything but how to look at the moon and adore and worship and do as it commanded, I was seen as I was, seen as real and so was the moon and I in my right-mindedness did the only thing one could know to do and I did what was real and I knew what was real and what was real was all I knew and I knew.
I will know.
“Moon,” I said.
“I know now.”
I knew you would.
“I no longer doubt.”
You do not.
“I am one with what I look into, and I have made it night always, and I have made a temple of my tiny observatory, and I consecrate it and all other things to you.”
You have done right in my sight.
“I am always in your sight.”
You are as you have always been. You know now yourself as the only thing that is, the only thing to which can be compared the fact of my existence.
“Nothing can be compared to that.”
I grind rocks and bricks together with the fury of my cold-burning hands. I paint on my skin with the dust. I stand on the observatory with bare feet and feel the surface scraping at the soles. I feel the eyes on my skin clustering and murmuring, and I feel the arrows in each one. I feel the chill, digging fingernails of moonlight on my skin always. It is always night, and the sun is comatose. I have the moon, and only the moon. On my observatory, I stare into it at night, and I move not, and I speak not, and I comprehend nothing but it and its whiteness and the surface that had looked down on me each night though I disbelieved. I know now why I doubted, why I was allowed to doubt. It was to prepare me for the truth. And I now know the truth, and the truth is the reverse of the lie I had contemplated for so long.
Only one thing is real, and that is the moon, and now I know, oh wretched unknowers, unseers, unbelievers, unexisters, now I know.
Jude Conlee does not exist but has somehow still managed to create fiction and poetry, some of which is good and some of which gets published. Venues that have published its work include Five 2 One, and/or, Scrutiny, and Otoliths. His non-writing relating pursuits include amateur film criticism, collect6ing inter6est6ing knives, and the care and keeping of Syrian hamsters.