Inspired by the writing of Richard Brautigan and Kurt Vonnegut, The Art of Being Alone is a novella about a lost soul living on the Moon and what he found there. You can read the earlier installments here. Our narrator is a member of the 5%s, wealthy individuals that own a majority of all of the resources and economy on the Earth. The rest of the planet is in turmoil, with the environment and the poor (everyone else) struggling to live or fight back. It is under these conditions that our broken narrator moves as far away as a human possibly can…
14- Moon Arrival
Everything was done so well. I am a little surprised, honestly. If someone hated me this would have been a great opportunity to get rid of me with little complication or comeuppance. For example, a simple miscalculation in my landing and I would have died, but I didn’t. Or in the design of my suit or my habitat. I could go on and on. So many ways to kill me and yet, here I am.
I landed perfectly by my already created habitat. My robots were standing outside and off since their jobs were done. Everything was waiting for me, as I ordered.
The first steps on the moon were difficult.
I was light and I was not used to it. They tried to get me to take some tests in the suit and in different environments that recreate the experience but I always said no.
And you could not argue with my no.
I hopped awkwardly to the door (the walking would get easier in time) and it opened. There was a suction noise. Then the sound of fans. When the green light went off, I took off my suit and wandered into my new home. The lights turned on automatically and all of the devices began to hum. Master was home. It was all just like how I ordered it. If there was a survey to ask how I felt about the purchase transaction, everyone would have been given five stars.
I slipped into my weighted slippers. There was the bedroom, the observatory, the kitchen. There were no screens, no mirrors. Just windows and silence.
Near the bedside were the empty journals I had requested. Someone, I have no idea, thought it funny to draw a picture of a stick person standing on the ball of the Earth waving at me inside one of them. For some reason, I imagined it was my mother who drew it and tore the picture out.
15- Writing Again
There is a weird acceptance when you are only writing for yourself. You realize, quite quickly, that you don’t need to do it on only paper. Sometimes I write on napkins. Sometimes I write on toilet paper. Sometimes I even write on air. I like to imagine the words hanging there and then blowing away in a small breath of air. Poof.
Forgotten words, forever circling the moon. My words will always be there, going around and around
When I was on Earth and I first had journals, I was merely listing what I had done or was doing. The women, the money, etc. I would describe body parts and sensations from the drugs. I would sketch pictures. But when you are on the moon and everyday is the same, following one into another, there is little to list. Everything is regular from my meals to my bowel movements. It is so incredibly organized.
I was told by one talkative scientist that if I lived up here for more than two years I would break a record. The longest human to live off world! I have no idea how long I have been here, but I am certain I did break that record.
I can feel the beard on my face. From time to time I clip it (it can be a bother with the spacesuits), but it just comes back. I’m probably not the only human to complain about this.
Maybe I should be more prepared in my writing, but even if I wrote the greatest novel in the world it would just lie here quiet for all eternity. Imagine that! Something profound, life changing, hidden away and circling the planet! See, even if I did that I would have no way to share it with the gray and fiery ball below me. There is no ship, no lines of communication that could send the message: “Hey, everyone, I have a new War and Peace for you.”
There was another scientist (she had glasses and would clean them every time she got annoyed with me or my questions) who said they would be able to monitor me from a telescope. They would be able to see me up on the moon. They would watch me.
I remember looking at her and asking only “Why?”
When I was back on that miserable planet, television and movies were better than most contemporary books (and honestly, didn’t all of the authors really just want their books turned into movies and TV shows anyway?) and they didn’t take hundreds of pages to get to the point. We could all fast forward to the action stuff, the important stuff. I once had a private tutor that tried to teach me about classics and the need to read.
They teach us about humanity, he claimed, they teach us about what it means to live a good life. I talked about Jules Verne and he rolled his eyes.
He might have been speaking a foreign language to me. Even today I’m not sure what he meant. A few days ago, while wondering the rocky hills near my home I wondered about books. I didn’t have any sent up here, just my empty journals and the manuals I would need about my devices.
Let’s say something happened on my old home. What if those explosions I saw were more dire than I at first imagined? Maybe they dropped the big bombs? Boom! There goes a city! Boom! There goes a country! Boom!
They could do it. Everyone on that planet trusted mad men all the time with big bombs. I know this because I met many of them when they came begging me for money. And, like I said, I always gave the money to them.
Let’s go back to the bombs and the point I am trying to make right now. Let’s say they destroy the world and I am all that is left. All of humanity and its lessons would go up in smoke. No art. No works of literature. No television. No video games. No dance. No music. No movies. Poof. And if they could have survived any place, it would have been here with me.
But I didn’t take any with me.
Even now, they are less than meaningful. Look at me. I am sitting outside writing this entry in the dust by me as I sit on the hard and cruel ground. Because of the lack of wind, these words will stay unless I decide to brush them off. Could these words be the last words of mankind’s cry?
The great “We were here!” message to the universe.
I can’t help but imagine the universe replying. “Who cares?”
17- Moon Father
I never investigated to see if what my mother said about my father was true. I was so busy getting ready for the trip that it didn’t occur to me until I was halfway to the moon and the communication between me and the planet were cut. Isn’t that always the way?
It is not like I could trust my mother. A story about a broken marriage and a dead ex certainly makes a person feel some sympathy. I’m sure most people would have been moved by her story. I gave her money, because it is what I do with most.
But maybe he didn’t die? Maybe I would have found him, living in some small apartment on a dirty street with the screams echoing up from the pavement? Or maybe he would be living in one of the desert tent villages that the poor end up at, working the hard ground for some food? I don’t know where to imagine him because I really don’t have very many memories of him. I remember her hand on his arm. His arm looked scarred. He had a tattoo on it. I remember the words on it because it never made sense to me: “Always Strive for the Better.”
Maybe it is better to imagine him on that hotel floor, with the remaining pills he couldn’t take scattered around the floor by his body, marking his outline. And there is the note fallen, by the tip of his finger, a nail only softly gracing it. My name on the note.
No, I do not like leaving him there. I can’t say why, but I am curious, and I want something more for him.
I know what I will do. I will use my imagination and bring his body here. It is easy in the silence and isolation of my habitat. I can simply close my eyes… and when I open them, there will be his corpse.
One. Two. Three.
He is lying in the middle of the ground of my Moon habitat. It is like he is sleeping with his eyes open. He is in a white short sleeves’ shirt (there is the tattoo) and a pair of jeans. His hair looks good, considering that he is lying on the ground and dead. I know it was years after I saw him last, but he still hadn’t gone gray, his hair is a deep black. There is no smell.
I have decided to put down my journal and write the rest in the air as I walk around him, slowly. I speak as I write each word, almost like I am giving dictation to myself.
That is him. I am studying the man who once gave me life and now decided to end his. He looks to be my height. I need to make sure.
I lie down next to him and try to strike the same pose as his empty body. One leg bent over the other. The head at an angle and the right hand reaching out. He is breathless, not able to take in the oxygen of my habitat with its refreshing hint of lemon and mint.
Yes, we are about the same size. I slowly get up, which is not easy to do with heavy slippers.
I need to be closer. I lean over his dead body, looking into his empty eyes.
I am so close my breath graces his skin.
I am going to allow his body to stay here on the floor for a while.
Hello, father, hello. Welcome to my Moon. Do you hear me whispering to you?