David Landau

Posted on February 20, 2012

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The Glint of the Moon

“When I grow up I want to be an astronaut,” the boy said.

“And blast off to the stars!” said the father.

They were looking at the moon out the window.

“I want my own rocket ship, dad. And then I can explore the universe. That’s what I want when I grow up.”

“If that’s what you want, son.”

The man sat on the boy’s bed. It was clean and bright inside the room. But outside the rain was coming.

“Will you come with me, dad? We can go into space together, you and me. That’s what we can do. When I’m big.”

The father thought of rain on the moon and how beautiful that would be. He wanted his son to feel rain on the moon.

“Dad? I said that’s what we can do when I’m big. Did you hear me?”

“Yes. That’s what we could do.”

“We can plan it, dad. We can plan it now. That way we’re sure to do it. When I’m bigger. We’ll blast off together! Maybe if we think hard enough about it, it will really happen. Let’s think real hard about it.”

“That would be the best, son. Yes, let’s think real hard about it.”

“Dad?”

“Yes, son.”

“Before we go into space on a rocket ship, I want to ride my bike again. When can I ride my bike again? Can I ride it to school?”

The father thought of riding a bike on the moon. He wanted his son to feel riding a bike on the moon.

“You love your bike. Don’t you?”

“It’s the best! When can I ride it to school again, dad?”

“I remember my bike when I was your age. It was green with red stripes and had fat, white-walled tires. I would fly that bike like a plane. I wanted to be a pilot when I got bigger. So I would fly that bike like a plane. I could feel the wind in my hair. We didn’t wear helmets back then. So I could feel the wind in my hair. It also had this big, honkin’ light mounted on the handlebars that I thought was cool because I could ride at night under the stars. But I never did ride that bike at night under the stars.”

“Why didn’t you, dad? Why didn’t you ever ride it at night under the stars?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Never got around to it. Just stuff, I guess.”

“Yeah. Just stuff,” the boy said.

“Wouldn’t it be cool to ride our bikes on the moon?”

“That would be so cool! Dad, let’s take our bikes on the rocket ship. Then we can ride them on the moon. I’m going to think real hard about that.”

“Awesome!”

“When can we go, Dad? Do we have to wait until I’m bigger? If we have to wait, that’s OK. I know I still need to grow and go to school. But when I finish school, when I’m big, that’s when we’ll go.”

“Yes, when you’re big,” the father said.

“Yeah, when I’m big.”

“But for now, son, you need your rest.”

He raised his son’s head and fluffed his pillow.

“I don’t want to go to sleep yet.”

“No, you don’t.”

“When can I go back to school, dad?”

“We’ll see.”

“Mummy says soon. Is that right?”

“Your mummy loves you.”

“All my friends at school sent me a letter. It had pictures of me in my space ship. They all signed it and said come back soon.”

“That was very nice of them.”

“Daddy?”

“Yes, son.”

“Isn’t pretending the best? The way it makes you feel.”

The father tried to imagine the way his son’s hair used to fall into his eyes. And the way he would blow it away with his lower lip extended and his cheeks puckered out and then how it would just fall back again brushing his face with curls. And the way his eyes used to be lit to a cobalt blue, liquid and deep like the sea. But now his hair was gone. And his eyes had paled to a wispy sky. The father looked around the room. He hated the constant drip of the I.V. Day and night. Drip. Drip. Drip. He hated plastic tubes and the hum of machinery and white walls and white coats and hearing code reds on the intercom and those stupid white shoes all the nurses wear. He hated polished linoleum down long corridors and filling out the menu-of-the-day forms with broken pencils. He hated broken pencils. He hated rocket ships that will never be.

“Daddy? I said isn’t pretending the best!”

“Yes, pretending is the best,” the father said.

“I think I’ll pretend my whole life.”

“Yes, your whole life. But, now it’s time to get some rest.”

“I’m going to think real hard about everything.”

“You do that, son. Think real hard about everything. I will too.”

The man left the room, walked down a long white corridor with polished linoleum, and exited the building. Driving home in the rain he was flying his bike at night under the stars and, looking down, could see the glint of the moon off the wet pavement.

***

David Landau lives in Los Angeles with his wife, son, dog, and cat. He used to have a Chinese Fighting fish until the cat ate it. After recovering from the shock of it all, he is now trying to reinvent himself as a writer.

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