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by Faye Brinsmead

They quarantined the moon. She might be infectious, they said. To distract us from our grief, they offered the temporary lustre of substitutes, changing them every night. A Stilton cheese the size of Liechtenstein. A replica Zeppelin. A tinfoil piñata which, when struck by a missile, rained marshmallows on the Chihuahuan Desert.

Next came the illumination sequence. They gave prizes for the first correct guess. A smudged orange thumbprint moon (Whistler), a misty sliver (Goya), a blur (Turner), a buoyant peach (Yoshitoshi). The Van Gogh swirl made the website crash — way too obvious.

Since then, the night sky’s been empty. Maybe they figure we’re over it now. I guess they need to print money for other things, like food stamps and phoney wages.

If I lie down in the middle of the field behind my house and squint a certain way, a ghost moon appears. Like a flickering white blob in an old film. Sometimes, just for an instant, she stops jittering. That’s when I see ghost me sketched on her surface. Ghost me looks wan and sleep-deprived. I shout encouraging messages up to her. It’s gonna be okay. You got this, girl. 

I’m not sure whether she can hear me. But when I head back inside, the ghost moon scribbles on the sweet grass and my bare feet find their own way to bed.

Faye Brinsmead’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine, New Flash Fiction Review, MoonPark Review, Ellipsis Zine, and others. She tweets microfiction and poetry @ContesdeFaye. She lives in Canberra, Australia.