Inspired by the writing of Richard Brautigan, The Art of Being Alone is a novella that strangely fits very well with this time in the world. I began it over a year ago and through this website and installments, I hope to force my hand in finishing it. I will be sharing 5 or so pages of it, each week. The first two installments can be found here and here. I hope you enjoy it.–
I enjoy walking on the Moon. I enjoy the “bounce” in my step. I enjoy listening to my breathing in my suit. It is steady and strong, never over excited. It was during one of my walks that I began to see the flashes on the surface of the Earth. They are like the flickers of little lights.
When I lived on the planet there was always a concern about bombs and power. Now and then a leader would come to see me and ask for money. I would usually give it, just to get them to leave. They would then appear on the news saying I support them or a cause.
Blah. Blah. Whatever.
Now there are flashes on the gray surface of that old planet in the distance and I am happily bouncing on the Moon like a child in a giant inflatable castle.
11- Take Off
It took only two years to prepare for my flight here. I threw enough money at the problem to speed it up that fast. Maybe the newscaster was right about what I was doing with my funds and the impact it would have on the world, but I didn’t care. I wanted to leave. I wanted to be alone on another planet, away from the noise, away from my grandmother’s memory and away from humanity.
They walked me through many meetings around my move to the Moon. For example, they talked about how they had already sent up my supplies and remote-controlled robots were building and setting up what I needed. I had nothing to worry about.
That was good to hear.
I was getting many death threats then. I had security around me at all time. Big men with guns that looked around with hatred and looked at me with hatred too. Sometimes I would hear them mumble to each other what they would do if they had my money.
I never asked them what they would do. It didn’t matter. None of it matter.
On my last morning on Earth, I was bundled into my limo (bigger than my grandmother’s) and we slowly drove to the base outside my estate. I was put in my space suit. They again explained to me everything I would need to do on the trip there and what to expect when I arrived. I nodded a lot.
They walked me to the rocket. I could hear the screams of the protesters. I couldn’t make out their signs in the distance. It didn’t matter what they wrote, unless it made them feel better to write it and imagine that I read it and it impacted me emotionally. We all have big imaginations.
I was strapped into my capsule.
The last human face I saw was of the woman putting me in the chair. We briefly made eye contact but it felt like an eternity. I saw everything there. I saw her future, her past and everything she believed about me etched across her face. She hated me and I thought she was beautiful.
She tightened my straps and left me.
The countdown began. I closed my eyes and waited.
When you are on Earth and look at the stars there is always other things in the way. Clouds, smog (a lot of smog). But here it is always clear. I can make out the other planets so perfectly, it is as if I could reach out and grab them.
It is silly to admit it but I did try to do it during my first few days.
I was sitting in my chair near my telescope in my viewing chamber. It was the first time I had really looked at the stars. There was no twinkle, just the eternal light. They were like eyes looking at me and I looked back. I lost my breath in the awe of it and that lost breath seemed to hang in front of me like a light mist.
Then I saw the red dot. That was Mars or another planet, I couldn’t be certain. But it reminded me of a red ball I used to play with in my parents’ small house before my grandparents bought me. We had little then, and I would bounce that ball off the walls of the house. It would drive my mother crazy. She shouted for me to take it outside and I did… and then I would bounce it off the outside of the house driving her crazy again.
My parents would argue a lot about my grandparents. My mother always wanted to know why they couldn’t help us more. Give us something! Give us a bigger house! Give us a future! She would always ask my father, “What is he saving it all up for? He will never have time to enjoy it.”
My father would sometimes reply that he didn’t want the money. He called it blood and I imagined it red and not green. Probably very sticky.
One afternoon my grandmother came to see me. She studied me, looking me all over as one would a sculpture in a museum. She turned me left and right. She even looked behind my ears. I was then told to go and color as the grownups talked. I began drawing a picture of a rainbow. I wondered if I could use every color in my box.
My grandmother then argued with my father. My father kept shaking his head. My grandmother had out a checkbook.
Suddenly, everything was quiet and I looked over at the adults. My mother’s hand was on my father’s arm and she was pressing down.
It was all like a picture, her hand on his arm. I remember how hard she pressed. She pressed down and down and down until he nodded.
I took the red ball with me to my grandparents, but once I got there it was taken away…
…But now the red ball has returned to me. It is there, waiting for me in my forever night sky. Can you see it too, my eternal reader?
I feel after the last entry I need to say something else about my mother. I need to get it out of the way. I don’t want to talk about it, but you will wonder. I get it. I would too. We expect more from stories and life, people just don’t go away unless there is death. So, I will get this entry done with now and move on with my personal Moon reflections.
This was all when I was preparing for my relocation from the Earth. I was again overlooking the laboratories where the devices I would need were being developed. Scientists loved to explain things to me. I think they thought it made them sound productive, when I couldn’t care less. I just wanted it done. But if they wanted to talk, who was I to stop them?
It was when walking through one of those hallways when a crazed looking woman with long gray hair came running down the hall with the facility’s security in fast pursuit. I could see her coming from a long distance away. It was more than just a distance, it was like she was running through time. Each step a day, closer and closer.
My personal security were used to attacks against me and moved forward to tackle her.
They violently threw the crazed woman to the ground.
She screamed at me. She screamed my name again and again. She begged me. She just wanted to talk, nothing more. Talk!
I looked down at this person below me and in her eyes. In the eyes, I saw her and she saw me.
We went into a private room, the security stood outside with guns drawn ready (they still didn’t trust her).
She told me of her life after her life with me ended.
My parents quickly went through the money they received from the grandparents. They pleaded to get me back, but my grandparents said no. They just wanted to see me, they begged, but were told no. They even asked for more money but were denied. They had signed the contracts; the transaction was done. That is how things are done in business, everyone knows that.
My father left my mother a few years after that. They had stopped talking way before that moment. They didn’t even have the energy for arguing. Just one day she woke up and he was gone. She learned a few months later that he killed himself in a hotel room.
He did it with pills.
A note was found by the empty bottle and it had one thing written on it- my name.
My mother wanted me to know that. I felt nothing at the news. My feelings had died with my grandmother in the limo, remember?
She then touched my hand and begged me not to go. She wanted to be in my life, live in my grandparents’ estate with me. I didn’t have to go to the moon. I didn’t have to be alone. There are other options! A new life, new options for both of us! We could have everything together! So much possibility, she believed.
I listened to all her dreams and I looked at her hand on my hand and I thought of her hand on my father’s arm as she pressed down…
…after an hour I gave her some money and she left.