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Moon by Matt Leibel



"And what is flesh but moon?"
-Henry Miller

Clive said it was a magical night, so Jeannie told him that she was magic and could fly to the moon. Clive didn't think she was serious, and since Jeannie so desperately wanted to prove to him that she was a serious kind of girl, she flew to the moon, and, since she was hungry when she got there, she swallowed it whole. The weight of the moon inside her size six frame sent her careening back to earth at nearly the speed of sound, which is why there's still that giant crater out in the park. Anyway, Clive was so impressed that Jeannie made good on her promise that he stayed with her even though she had ballooned to moon size, become a freak, an impossibility, a fat chick. I guess I was happy for them and there is something romantic about a girl who would go to such lengths to get attention, but there's also something desperate about it, and the truth is that I too (if I must be honest) wanted Clive in the worst way and I can't imagine that a girl who swallowed the moon would look all that great, say, in a two piece, or naked for that matter, so I sensed an opportunity, and went for it. Armed with a miniskirt and a flashlight, I came upon the happy couple, lying together inside the giant crater that Jeannie had made when she fell from the sky. Gingerly, I walked across the great expanse of her, feeling the rocky, craggy terrain lurking just below the lining of her gargantuan stomach. I didn't think she'd feel my footsteps any more than the moon itself had felt Neil Armstrong's. I reached the other side of her circumference and found, wedged inside a tiny sliver of crater, Clive. I shook him awake. He was surprised to see me. Before he could speak I cut him off with a kiss. He grew more bold in the darkness, and he grabbed my hand and lifted me out of the crater. We hid behind a tree. I felt a shiver which only made it more exhilarating, and I made up my mind to enjoy this now and damn the consequences. I shut off the flashlight. I felt liberated and I think he did too. Our shrieks careened wildly off the basin and echoed into the inky-black void of the moonless sky. We laughed like we'd just played a grand joke on darkness itself, until we saw the faintest hint of illumination slowly crawling across our bodies. We looked up and the darkness was slowly eclipsed by a darting white light. The light grew bright and round, and soon we saw it as it was: a big, pockmarked oval with visible arms, legs, head and neck. The moon spotlighted us: we were caught. And from millions of miles away, Jeannie's huge green moon-eyes shot us a vengeful look. We watched her crater-marked lips opening and closing. We couldn't hear what she was saying, because moons can't talk. But I knew how she felt. I tried to explain to her. "You always got the good ones. You always drew them to your gaze. I was jealous. I felt this: it is my turn now. Maybe I was wrong. Look at you: even now the sky lights up your lovely face." But before I could even speak Jeannie started crying. She cried, and the moon-rain poured down on us, washing our sins away. And I stared blankly at Clive's wet naked body as he stared at mine, and then I looked up into the sky and I mouthed a silent "I'm sorry" and looked away, and I haven't been able to look the moon in the eye ever since.



Matt Leibel lives and works in San Francisco and has new work forthcoming in Metropole, 3AM Magazine, and Word Riot.


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