We are chipping away at the moon. Women wear it on their fingers; their fiancés make jokes about George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life, his prescient wish to lasso it and bring it home. Moon cufflinks hold lawyers and businessmen together. Bits of moon dangle from earlobes and clasp together handbags. My daughter waves at the sky, saying goodnight to the little men with pickaxes on the surface of the moon. Skinny and withered, beef jerky men—this is what she calls them. Sometimes she spots retired ones in parking lots, and I pull her away. Look, Mommy, she says, and I tell her it’s not polite to point. We bought a piece to give her when she’s older, a bit of moon hung on a twenty-four-karat gold chain. My idea, not my husband’s. He’s gone now. He left one night in tears, saying he couldn’t stand a waveless ocean. I mean he leapt. That kind of gone. I should’ve known it would happen, should’ve paid more attention to the faraway look he got whenever my bracelet made ripples in his cereal milk. He was a man with no gravitational pull, who let himself be pulled instead. A tragedy, but what can you do? My boyfriend says Mars will be next. He swears my ring will be red and glowing and teeming with microscopic life. The beef jerky men? my precious daughter asks. No, we tell her, not them. She wants to know what will happen when the moon is totally gone. It’ll never be gone, my sweet, not for you. Hold up your necklace to the dark window and squint.
Aleyna Rentz is a recent MFA graduate from Johns Hopkins University and the senior fiction reader for Salamander. She won 1st place in Pleiades’ 2019 R M Kinder Realistic Fiction Contest and 3rd place in the 2018 January/February Glimmer Train New Writers Contest. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in publications including The Iowa Review, Glimmer Train, Pleiades, Fifth Wednesday, Passages North, Wigleaf, and elsewhere. Follow her on Twitter at @aleyna_rentz.