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Observers

Jesse Lawson writes stories and music from his house full of plants in northern California. Learn more at jesselawson.net.

That familiar shadow started passing over Earth. I stayed with you and watched, sitting uncomfortably on a rocky grey moon. Neither of us could leave--for different reasons, of course.
I told you about the stories I'd heard since you left, about how some folks would spend their whole lives down there on that dried up rock. Their only understanding of this place was as a bright spot in the night sky, an unchanging face they would sometimes forget is there. Other times they would look and part of it would be hidden--still there, still the moon, but unreflecting. Unlit. Gone to find where the sun goes at sunset, where we all go when our constellations change.
I remembered you told me a story about a local tribe you were living with. You said their shaman had taken you out one night, pointed up at the stars, and said that no two people have the same night sky. That if you think about it, since our eyes cannot occupy the same space, if you drew lines from your pupils all the way out to the stars themselves, your lines would be distinct from anyone else's lines. You said the shaman closed their eyes and asked you to do the same, and when you did, you understood.
I got so caught up in myself that I looked over at you and, in that moment, I could see the Earth's reflection in your visor. It wasn't as colorful as the real thing and it wasn't nearly bright, but it was Earth. The planet where we met. It lit up the inside of your helmet just enough for me to see your face, after all this time now just the sun-bleached bones of your skull and jaw.
The shadow finished passing over Earth and I turned my head back to see it with my own eyes. I wish I could go back. To Earth. To the way things were.
To you.
The End
This story was first published on Monday, April 18th, 2022
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