For a moment he couldn’t remember where he was, not unusual as he was increasingly losing touch with reality. The long June days and sudden spell of sunshine had made the short nights warm and dry and he had been sleeping better. If an alcohol and drug induced coma could be called sleep.
Churchyard, graveyard, still above the ground; that’s where he was, for weeks, or months perhaps. He turned his head with difficulty, had the other two already gone? It wasn’t always easy to tell. His dreams were hard to recall, staring up at the full moon in the clear sky, that could be real, but there was a little girl who loved the moon. He read her favourite moon stories; bears who couldn’t sleep looking up at the moon, daughters who asked their daddies to give them the moon. Jono hadn’t given her the moon, or much at all. His daughter, that’s right, he had a daughter once. Moon stories was all he could remember; when did he leave or was it they who left? Such a long time ago.
Christmas, he gave her a moon book. Christmas was for children. Christmas was for shelter, how many. One year they found his sister, the last person he wanted to see, he left before she could come and fetch him, left before he had even had his feet seen to. After that he just made up his name and now he didn’t even recall what his real name was.
Jono did not even recall what his daughter’s name had been. Grown up now, did she go to the moon, had anyone been back to the moon since that first time on his tenth birthday? A ladder to the moon, he told the little girl daughter he would find the longest ladder in the world and they would climb to the moon, not tell anybody, be back by morning.
People, so many people going in the church, but not Jono, he never went in there in case they wanted to help him. Most people ignored him, but do-gooders wouldn’t leave you alone. He struggled to stand, good thing about gravestones, they helped you up… one day they would push him down.
Jono found his feet taking him up the stone steps, with the people, excitement, chatter, something was happening; happening to the church, to the people going in or to him. Mostly he looked at the ground, but today something made him look up and there it was, the Moon, hanging there motionless, hanging above them all. How could it be inside the church instead of up in the sky?
At last he had fetched his daughter the Moon, but how could he show her? There she was, a little girl, but there was another child and another, how could he tell which one was his. Looking up made him dizzy, he sat in a pew and drifted into a moon dream.
‘A moon in the church?’ said Chris.
‘Yes, I saw it on Facebook, we must go and look, some kind of art installation, but it’s accurate, NASA and all that scientific stuff. I used to love the moon when I was little, that’s the only thing I can remember about my father, reading to me at bedtime. He said if he couldn’t find a ladder long enough to reach the moon I would have to wait till I was grown up and become an astronaut.’
Chris laughed. ‘My mother thought we would be living on the moon in the Twenty First Century.’
The church was humming, everyone looking up; a real moon suspended above the nave, huge, still and silent except for the Apollo voices and moon music. She was surprised how affected she was and hoped Chris wouldn’t rush her. They took pictures, posted them on Instagram and Facebook.
Chris was ready to go, they were meeting friends for lunch, she paused halfway down the aisle, whispered to him.
‘That old tramp, do you think he’s alright, he looks like he might be dead.’
‘Come on, we’ll be late for the others, he’s probably out of his head on drugs. Always a few homeless sleeping in the churchyard. One of their street team can sort him out.
Inspired by Museum Of The Moon
Read more about my visit to the moon here.