Traumatised, Moon drops out of orbit.
Pull yourself together, says Earth, her dad. I’m the one she hurt. You were too young to remember. If I can keep spinning you can, too.
He makes an egg-and-lettuce sandwich, like every other day. Leaves for the office.
Don’t even think about cutting school. The front door slams.
Moon lies face-down on her cumulonimbus doona. She can feel oceans begging her to weave blue-green horses. Winds wail, wanting their cradles rocked. A trillion biological clocks tock, toock, terck.
I can’t, she tells them. Not today.
All those documentaries she devoured when Dad thought she was doing homework. She could swear she saw everything.
It is 4.5 billion years ago, the molasses voice says. Earth is still forming from swirling debris. It is a violent place of super-volcanoes and burning lava fields. Devoid of all life.
When he loses it, it’s not his voice that scares you. Or his rushing big-boned hand. It’s the furnace at his core, hot as the sun.
A Mars-sized body called Theia hurtles towards Earth.
Theia is waltzing, not hurtling. Her ballerina slippers elude gravity. Earth advances. May I have this dance? She zaps him an ultraviolet stare.
The black screen flares white. Yellow. Orange. Red. The spectrum of catastrophe. Earth survives the collision, but Theia is destroyed. The fallout is pulled into orbit, forming our Moon.
Things were great till she got pregnant, Dad told Uncle Mercury one night.
They were sitting on the porch, nursing beers and watching the stars. Moon, supposed to be asleep, eavesdropped from her dormer window.
Then all hell broke loose.
I’m sorry, bro, Uncle Mercury said.
Did he believe that? Does she? She does… not. Nup. Doesn’t.
Squeezing her eyes shut, she sees flames stream from his mouth, blast the photo albums. Polaroids crumple like dying spiders. Every night, in every dream, she scrabbles river beds, parts curtains, rips boxes. She must unearth her mother’s face.
The school will call Dad.
Hello, this is Theia Jones. Moon’s mum. Yes, she has a mother. I’ve been away. Now I’m back. Moon’s a little feverish today. I’ve decided to keep her home.
This story just missed the long-list in the Summer 2019 Reflex flash fiction competition.