The Dark Side of the Moon

The dark cove rose far above them, so tall it almost blocked the sky from view. There was no sand, just earth brown rock, gnarled and rippled like a bark from a tree.

David lost his footing, slipping on the sodden rock. He plunged into the icy water, which firmly pulled him away. A hopeless battle ensued, limbs desperately grasping for a hold which would never be found.

His brother was watching the vast swarms of seagulls circling the rock stack. The constant screams of the birds almost silenced the sea as they washed to and fro.

Sarah screamed, and her brother raced down the rocks. By the time he was at the water’s edge, David was far off in the distance. She shouted down to him not to go in, the waves were so fierce. She ran off to get help. David’s brother saw that she was right, there was no way of getting to him. He slowly lowered himself to the rock and waited.

He could see David bob further and further away, arms waving, appearing to shout. The sea swallowed his noise. Piece by piece he was disappearing from view. First the chest, then the head and finally the limp arms were devoured by the hungry ocean.

He focused hard on the spot where David had sunk, willing him to reappear. But nothing came, bar the low thud of an approaching helicopter. For hours it circled, trying to find the glimpse his brother was willing. Eventually, with a shrug, the speed of the blades picked up, and the helicopter was gone.

Still he sat, waiting. Night fell but not his gaze, fixed firmly on that precise location. None of the coast guards or policemen could break it. Finally the warm arms of Sarah willed him away, and limply they left the rocks.

The noise of the family’s grief was so loud it took a day or so to hear the silence. David’s brother hadn’t uttered a word since the drowning. He had just stared straight ahead continuing his vigil. His parents were racked with guilt when they noticed. It wasn’t their fault. Grief is selfish, so all-consuming.

“You tell us when you want to talk, we’re here for you”. They respected his silence, gave him his space. But they just seemed like giant listening machines, primed for any utterance. At first he hadn’t noticed, but as his parents became more and more understanding, all he could see was how large the ears in his family were.

The realisation slowly came that David wasn’t going to emerge from the waves. The pain was huge, the tears were wrenched through every pore. Visions swirled into view. Some were just replays of what had happened. In a strange way they were easier to come with, as they were the reality. But sometimes vast vacuums and turbines sucked and chopped David’s body, turnin the ocean a vivid crimson. Or that he was a giant, striding through the waves, only to find that even his huge fingers couldn’t grip the tiny fish-like David.

It was too much. He ran down to the living room, flung open the door and with all the power in his body rasped “Murrr…”. No words came, just air. Sound refused to emerge from his throat. He fell to the floor agonised at this latest discovery. It seemed as if, as well as David, the sea now had his words.

His mother held him tight until the tears began to subside. She rolled with every flinch and spasm, desperately searching herself for the right words. Nothing could comfort him yet, she needed to wait for just the right moment.

A few days later she came into his room with an exercise book and pen. “If you can’t say what you want to, maybe you could try to write it.” He nodded gently and moved slowly to his desk.

All the words had built up in his mind as if trapped, and he couldn’t get them down on paper fast enough. There was so much to say. How he missed David, how he blamed himself for not being able to rescue him, how the torture of seeing his brother die had only begun with his death. He refused to stop until he had had his say. The first book was handed back to his mother with a request for another one. No sleep was possible. He wrote night and day for forty-eight hours until he slumped across the desk, pen in hand, masking the last page of his fourth book.

His mother cried as she turned each page, not just fro the grief at the loss of her son, but also with the joy of the birth of another. Before she had only heard the inquisitive voice of a young boy, but now on paper that voice seemed to break and take on a deeper tone. She felt the rare sense of privilege for a parent of insight into their child’s perception of the world.

The vivid light spilling into the bedroom confused him, the clock said eleven pm, but his room was lit with golden rays. As he sat up he was greeted by the sight of the fullest moon he had ever seen, he could make out every rise and crater on its surface. It was as if his room was in orbit around it, he felt so close.

The horror dawned along with his familiarity. This was the moon that had risen when David was finally taken, the moon which controlled the tide that had swallowed him up.

A scream formed but never came. Nothing in the room could hide the glare. He froze upright in bed, held tight by its pull, and hauntedly observed its passage across the night sky.

His mother soon had blackout curtains fitted to encourage him to sleep. But it was always there, and at some point in the night he would find himself drawn to the window to make sure.

Dark crescents soon formed under his eyes. The attempts to get him back to school failed, as he would find himself sleeping through each lesson, drained by his nocturnal vigil. Confined to his bed, he would watch the sun as well, waiting for the return of its evil partner.

Desperation overtook him one evening. He wrenched his body away from the bed, flung open the curtains and whispered ” Go away, leave me alone”. And as he did, it slipped away.

The eclipse started surprisingly quickly, a huge bite of moon revealing the death that was to come. Simon stared open-mouthed. He knew he could speak now, but there were no words to say. The darkness washed smoothly over it, gradually devouring it all. A ring, a last glimpse, and then it was swallowed whole.

It didn’t matter that it would return, Simon had now the satisfaction of viewing its slow demise, and that seemed revenge enough.

Simon talked about it occasionally in the months and years that followed, but he wrote a lot more. That voice was stronger than ever.