Moonshine


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There’s something strangely pleasant about it.


These days are always hot and stuffy; the sticky summer weather has come too early and it’ll probably be here to stay well into autumn. The humid nights can get very uncomfortable for me, so I like to take a cold shower very late to end my day. Once I’m done, I step outside onto my balcony and gaze into the dark abyss above.


The couple next door on the left are screaming their heads off again. The dog from the neighboring apartment complex is barking up a storm. My good neighbor on the right is smoking his life away.


But it doesn’t bother me too much anymore. It’s been this way for two months now. More heat, more yelling, more smoking, more discomfort. There’s something pleasant about it, which is strange, because it’s sad. There is nothing happy about the terrible climate change, fragile relationships, and breathing problems. There isn’t a single thing great about 2020.


While I lean on my balcony ledge and stare into outer space, I pull out my phone and decide to listen to some music before going to bed. The first song to come up after shuffling is Elton John’s “Rocket Man”, and I don’t know why, but my heart begins to sink.


It’s lonely out in space...

On such a timeless flight...

And I think it’s gonna be a long, long time....


With my elbow on the ledge, and my chin resting on my palm, I start to feel tired and a little empty. As I let out a sigh, I turn around to get back into my home, and that’s when I notice the waning crescent Moon and its hopeless smile.


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As the weeks go by, I carry on with my day to day routine. In the mornings, I sit on the toilet, slouched over for too long, thinking of shallow memories I didn’t know I remembered. Water drips from the bathtub spout continuously, so I have to put a bucket beneath it until I get it fixed someday.


Drip, drip, drip, drip, it tells me slowly. I don’t respond.


In the afternoons, I go to the small liquor store where I work as a cashier. There are people who don’t properly wear their masks, people who don’t wear masks at all, and occasionally, someone who is coughing, which all makes me paranoid. When things are quiet, I can hear the clock on the wall behind me.


Tick, tick, tick, tick, it warns me carefully. I don’t respond.


In the evenings, I may be taking my online night classes and studying. Sometimes lectures get dry, or my study sessions get stale, so my mind wanders a little. If it’s quiet at that moment, I often catch my tired heart beating.


Thump, thump, thump, thump, it whimpers to me softly. I don’t respond.


Almost everyday, I find myself hearing these sounds. Drip, tick, thump. I feel hollow.


One night, I found myself outside on my balcony again, with my hair still damp from the ice-cold shower. That one night was humid and hot, just like the rest of the summer nights, but that evening, I got the chills. My body was beginning to ache and my stomach was unsettled. Before turning in for the day, I looked up at the sky made of coal and oil. I couldn’t find the Moon up there.


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The following day, I took a sick day from work and stayed home. Fever flowed through my body, ice in my veins and fire on my skin. I went back to sleep and woke up feeling dead. I knew I should eat something, so I got up and made myself a small salami sandwich and hot chamomile tea. Then, I looked at my phone, scrolling through emails, and reminding myself of my bills and responsibilities. It was going all fine, although my eyes were feeling a little strained, until I opened up social media and was greeted coldly by my daily dose of bad news and terrible headlines. Cancel culture, political feuds, continued ignorance. Rising death tolls, roaring riots and racism, the scorching Sun.


Fuss and misery.


I burned my tongue on my tea, and all that was left was a bad taste in my mouth.


Later in the afternoon, after I took a nap, I got up to see what was going on in the world. Even though seeing the horrible news earlier that day had put me in a bitter mood, I felt like I had to learn more. Usually, I try to avoid troubles and let life be as I know most things are out of my control. But maybe I longed to find something beautiful and joyful among the ruins of everything.


I scrolled through the internet, skimming through article upon article. Of course, there was something neat and not necessarily that sad or concerning of news from time to time, but everywhere I looked was still hell.


COVID-19 cases are surging; one American dies every 107 seconds

An influential Covid-19 model projects the US death toll could reach 439,000 by March 1


. . . March 1? What month even was it? October? But it’s hot outside. Has it really been that long? How much longer? Over 400,000 thousand US deaths?


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One American dies every 107 seconds?


A sudden wave of immense fear had overcome me. I was sweating more now, it was tears crawling down all of my body. My heart was pounding, banging on my chest as if frantically trying to escape Death. And my breath had ran away, and I failed to catch it in time. Shortness of breath? That can’t be good. And I’ve been having a fever

As I called my mother, I cried.


It’s been a few weeks since I was sick. It’s now November and there’s been a lot of change. A new president has been elected, and there has been some drama over it, but hopefully things turn out for the better. And I hear about a possible vaccine, so I have my fingers crossed that this will get everyone out of this never ending nightmare.


One evening, after my classes, I was cleaning around and throwing out some old papers. A lot of them were old notes and worksheets from high school and middle school. A lot of them were just lying around my room or maybe in some boxes. I came across a small sheet of paper; I guess it was all yellow and old after all this time laying around in my room here and my old room back at my parents’ home. I’ve never been organized.


On that little paper was a short poem I scribbled when I was a freshman. I was almost sure I had thrown it out back then because I remember thinking that it was a terrible poem.


i dream of sunshine on my shoulders,

of jungles made of rainbows,

of dragons in the shadows,

of tiny, silent fairies who spread good luck.

and i dream of the day ending and seeing

how shy the Moon lady is.


I’ve missed a lot since quarantine started. Hanging out with friends, going out and traveling, physically going to classes, and not having to wear masks and social distance. A lot has been lost as people pass away and as our overall health declines. But, the world isn’t over yet, humans are still working to get out of this mess, and time will heal our wounds. In the meantime, I suppose the only thing we could do is stay hopeful.


That night, I looked up until the sky and was pleasantly greeted by a glowing, full Moon.


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