“When you walk down the highway and look to your left, you’ll see a big sign welcoming you to a town underneath a perpetual blue moon. The people are probably going to ask you what you’re looking at, seeing as there’s so much to look at. But try not to stare; underneath a blue moon everything looks stranger, but it’s no stranger than anywhere else. The floorboards will creak under your boots, they do that with outsiders. It’ll take a while for a new man to look right under a blue light. You’ll have to walk down a long stretch of highway before you get here though, don’t let that sign give you hope, it’s more of an advertisement than anything else.”
I wanted to take the train there, but they were all stranded somewhere else. I guess it’s not easy driving a train around to places that don’t exist. This town does exist though, I’m sure of it, I just don’t know what it looks like; I couldn’t tell you if the streets are wide or narrow or if they’re crowded or empty. This highway is neither wide nor crowded and that pale moon isn’t much company—it’s white like a sick child, looks like it’s about to disappear. A full moon just fading out into dark. Won’t do me much good but it won’t hurt too much either. The light from the town sign—advertisement—looks like it’ll follow me around forever. The promise of a blue moon shines on and that pale thing never had a chance. I’d hoped to bring some more of my things with me, but seeing as I’d be carrying it the whole way there I thought it best to keep things light—just myself and a radio. But there’s no one around to see me and this radio doesn’t pick up a damn thing. And this letter, of course; might be more interesting to any passersby than anything else I’ve got on me. The only proof anyone’s got that this town exists.
There’s a small outpost over here by the side of the road now, nothing more than a motel and a bar, the only two things you need out here in a place like this. The motel looks like nothing more than a big wooden box with a front door, but it’s not necessarily uninviting. The bar looks the same only it’s got a big red sign on it that reads “The Constantina.” I came to learn that Constantina was the name of the barman’s great grandmother, the wife of the man who built the place. Sweet woman, so the barman told me. I sat there at the bar with my radio listening to the barman whistle over white noise. I wondered what noise the moon would make if you could get close enough to hear it. Maybe it’d be the sound of a thousand waves crashing over, or a heavy wind pushing through space. Or maybe if you got close enough to the moon it wouldn’t matter what sound it makes. If you got that far from earth you’d forget about the things that matter there and learn all new sorts of things that matter in a new kind of place; like it doesn’t matter how the moon sounds or feels or even looks, like all of a sudden you can feel with something more than you could back down there. Here on earth though all I’ve got is a radio and a paling moon, so maybe the moon sounds like white noise; the sound of absence.
It started to rain outside and the barman threw a brief glance at the door before going back to washing and drying glasses. It was awfully surprising how many glasses he had to wash and dry seeing as I hadn’t seen a single person in this bar or even on the highway since the sun first set. But there he went, washing and drying like it was all he was ever going to do; like if you came back here in a hundred years and took a peek inside through the doorway you’d see him washing and drying and washing and drying, and there’s never going to be a single person who’s going to take a drink from one of those glasses.
As the rain grew heavier, so did the silence between me and the barman, and all of a sudden we felt like completely different creatures, alien to one another. In a hundred years he’ll be here washing and drying glasses for absolutely nobody and I’ll be dead or on the moon. As soon as it stopped raining I bade the barman goodbye and stepped out of The Constantina, starting back on down the highway. I didn’t pay much attention to the motel, the point of sleeping had used to be to pass time through the dark, but it would be silly to think day would ever come back in a place like this.
And now I’m still going. I tread on down this endless highway with only my feet to guide me, as the stars above me grow unsteady. They tremble every so often, as the moon fades out and loosens its grip on the skies, reminding me that my time in this midnight is nearing its end. Here in this place I feel as though I am human for the first time in my life, and not even the static of the radio is enough to silence the overwhelming noise of my feet against the pavement. My body doesn’t weigh me down and this letter only urges me forward. I think of the barman and his glasses, of his great grandmother and her kind nature; I think of the fluorescent town sign and the sky’s paling light. I think of the blue moon and all it promises; I carry all I have with me while everything ends.
Ainara Ibarrondo is a high school junior from California whose work has been frequently read by her mom, who says it is “very good.” She reads and sometimes she writes if she's feeling up to it.