The Moon Moved

by LaVerne Zocco


I remember looking out the barred window of the mental hospital. I tried to remember when my doctor had ordered me into the dreaded building; but machines had stolen my memory away. I cried and pleaded with them to give me my memory back but they only smiled and looked at me with pity, pity for the neurotic mess I was.

I sweated profusely with my nerves stretched to the breaking point, little zaps of electricity still hovering around my shocked body. I tried not to lose hope each time someone stopped at my door, but then they would silently go away again, not coming in to see the insanity that lay dormant in my eyes. They came only to try to feed me and clean me, waiting for me to improve to the level of being able to engage in talk therapy.

The medications that slumped me over with my little hopes of recognition were dashed down with a pill that kept me below that high place toward which I was climbing. I was not insane; I kept saying it over and over, but no one believed me. That was the worst of it: no one believed a word I said.

Then one night... I don’t know what the nurse had injected me with, but it put me in a drowsy and euphoric state. It was pitch black in my small cell, and from the position of the moon in the sky I could tell it was quite late into the night.

I listened for any strange noises, and for once nothing frightening came to my ears. But, as I lay there, staring out that barred window I suddenly saw the moon move! My God, what was going on? I did not want the responsibility of telling one of my caregivers of this bizarre happening.

But, wait... There, it moved again, and I knew I should call out. But would they believe me? The moon seemed to tremble and shake for a few minutes. I could not take my eyes from it. And then the gray sphere pitched over to the right and it moved out of its place and edged over what seemed to be two inches.

I shook with terror trying to decide if it was worth being called crazy once again. Perhaps I had gone over the edge of sanity, perhaps I was indeed mad with the moonlight. I might be accused of being in full crazy mode, but I had to tell someone.

I made up my torn mind and reached for the button to call my nurse into my cell. Then I said no to myself. Instead of getting feverish and fretting, I found myself looking at this thing in cold, calculated terms and put my mind to the problem of what a small zigzag in the pattern of the lunar ball could possibly mean to the Earth.

The moon controlled the tides. Oh heavens, what could a shift in the pull of the gravitational field — a minor adjustment — do to the coastline? The smooth, rhythmic flowing of the waves in and out would have less resistance; and the waves, instead of being pulled back, would flow right into the surrounding land and flood it. The orderly lives of the sea creatures would be interrupted and what would that do to the food supply? And how about the orbit of the earth: wouldn’t the movement of the Moon, which was no longer in lockstep with the Earth, be pulled into the Earth in some manner?

I grabbed my call button and rang and rang until my nurse came into my cell lighting the whole room with her flashlight. There on the bed she found me agitated beyond all belief. “Here now, what’s going on?”

My mouth and the saliva in my throat had dried and I found it hard to speak. Finally, a squeak of an answer came out. “The moon moved.”

Of course she was incredulous that I would bother her in the middle of the night with fairy tales from a bedeviled mind, and she told me in no uncertain terms to go back to sleep.

Then she laughed; the first time I had seen her do so. She seemed kinder and even tucked me in, and in my feverish brain I thought I had told someone; it was the end of my responsibility.

When I woke up, I heard many voices talking softly just outside my door. People were going to and fro with hurried concentration, but no one would tell me anything.

The night nurse wringing her hands was telling her relief nurse what had happened with me during the night.

“Yes, she said the moon shifted.”

“Oh, Lord, what will you tell her when she wakes up?”

“That’s my biggest fear. What will happen when I tell her that the Earth moved last night and is going to be destroyed?”

Wouldn’t you know: I was wrong again.


Copyright © 2010 by LaVerne Zocco

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