a short story heavily inspired by zaid and zain’s poetry seminar
Where I come from, it is unlawful, immoral, and strictly forbidden to look up. Men patrol the rooftops with the unlucky outcasts in their sights, those poor folk who look a little too lost in thought, whose feet don’t quite touch the dirt. If their eyes flick towards the warmth of the sun for even a second, it is over. They die with the imprint of what they have seen trapped forever behind their corneas. These men who rule us believe our business is dust and dust alone. We are a grey population with dead grey lungs inhabiting grey homes and walking grey dirt roads. We are too tired, too afraid, to request anything more.
When I was little, my parents used to ask God every day why they had been given a child with a curse. No matter how hard they tried, I never kicked the habit of searching skyward. I had my own gravity, a force that pulled my gaze upward instead of holding it down. When I was younger, I wasn’t allowed out without my sun hat, this monster of a thing that showed you nothing but black when you looked up, no matter what direction you turned your head. Now, I’m not allowed out at all. If I need something, I ask. If I want a breath of fresh air, tough. They know I’d never pass up the opportunity to look.
There’s only so much dust I can breathe until my lungs stop working.
I don’t remember the first day I did it, but I’ll never forget the things I saw. I slipped out of my home, sliding between raindrops and parallel to walls, unseen in the evening light. Finally, after an eternity of hiding under awnings and running with my feet just above the ground, I was alone. An exile among the trees. My heart caught in my throat. My gravity tugged on my pupils.
In an instant, my lungs exhaled every ounce of dust that had wallpapered them since birth. The sky. It was beautiful. Deep, deep blue, the kind of dark that could consume you completely. Wisps of clouds made of the finest linen and the sweetest spun sugar drifted through her vast expanse. But the moon, oh, the moon and the stars, owned my heart completely. I furiously wiped my tears, not wanting to waste a single second of my time with the sky. The moon and the stars beamed down on me, bathing my skin in silver and turning my little grey heart into gold. My eyes devoured everything, digesting images desperately. The ichor of the light got me drunk on adoration, and I began to plan recklessly (as drunks often do). I could not allow my city to suffocate.
The next day, I asked my parents to buy me paint. For a project I said. A present. Neither claim was a lie. For weeks, I worked alone while the sun was up, counting the seconds until I could go back to the moon. My moments were well spent by her side, but it was always over too soon.
Today, the sun came out, and I followed it. Before my parents awoke, I was dressed and gone. Donning my satellite dish sun hat, I walked the grey streets to do what I knew had to be done.
What a curious day it was for the men on the rooftops. They watched a black dot traverse the streets, hovering above the heads of the crowds, leaving every person it passed by in tears. They wondered, but she never looked up, and thus they could do nothing. The curiosity ate them alive until the sun began to go down. Then, and only then, did the dot stop in the middle of the town square. Then, and only then, did the hat come off, falling to the ground next to the girl. She laid on her back, facing the sky she adored. On the inside of the fallen hat, the brim where the men wouldn’t see, was a beautiful picture of the moon, replicated in all her glory. On the girl’s body was the sky. She was a mosaic of silver clouds and velvet indigo and golden diamonds, more heaven than woman. She spoke, eyes still closed, to the speechless men.
“Shoot if you want. It makes no difference.”
As the girl spoke, all over town the doors began to open. Little grey eyes were suddenly reflecting the galaxies above them, the beauties they never got to see. A symphony of gasps filled the air, and the girl lay in the midst of her revolution. Her gravity pulled her eyelids open, and she stared defiantly into the emerging stars, into the eyes of the men.
“You cannot extinguish the moon.”
sorry if this was weird I just wrote it all at once and felt like I wanted to have it on here…also I know it sounds anthem-y I have accepted my fate as alternate universe socialist ayn rand.