Ladder to the Moon

  1. The boy had nothing to do one day.

  2. He found that no one was listening. No matter how much he spoke.

  3. If only he could, oh I don’t know, just leave.

  4. There was talk amongst the others. His parents, his teachers, his friends as well.

  5. That the boy was not happy.

  6. Not happy with how things were in world.

  7. With himself.

  8. Just not happy. That’s all there was too it.

  9. The boy looked up at the night sky one night and just looked at it.

  10. Blackness.

  11. Stars like eyes, as if they were his friends.

  12. The moon, the cradling hand, reaching like God to Adam in that painting.

  13. The one where the naked man is lying down reaching out to the old man.

  14. But it was not an old man.

  15. It was someone he loved.

  16. Reaching to him.

  17. And he reached too.

  18. But could not reach.

  19. For he was tiny.

  20. So the boy thought and thought. He had to sit down and think what to do.

  21. He father had a ladder. A big ladder he used for guttering.

  22. The boy went and got the ladder from the shed, but it really was big.

  23. The ladder was so big that when he stood it up, it reached so far up it went into the sky.

  24. The tip of it seemed to disappear in the blue.

  25. He thought that maybe he could climb up and go into space. But no. That was impossible.

  26. Wasn’t it?

  27. He tried it, but fell because the ladder wasn’t leaning against anything.

  28. When he fell, the ladder came down too and broke the tiles on the roof of the house across the street. And also a few other houses a few streets over.

  29. But the boy was determined to do this. The ladder was big enough, he was sure of it.

  30. That night the moon was full and bright and he stood the ladder in the garden and positioned it just right. Guiding the top of the ladder to where he wanted it.

  31. It took some time, but he eventually got the ladder to sand against the moon.

  32. He checked it was stable then began to climb.

  33. He put one foot after the other. One hand in front of the other. Going up, up, up.

  34. Up, up up.

  35. It was cold up there. He was shivering when he stopped to rest.

  36. He saw some black bird fly past.

  37. He could no longer make out his house. The bottom of the ladder just reduced to a single point.

  38. He climbed.

  39. Up, up, up.

  40. Soon, he was inside the clouds.

  41. Everything was white. It was incredibly cold, too. For some reason, he never imagined clouds were cold.

  42. Up, up, up.

  43. Because the clouds were so big, giant in fact, the size of mountains, it was like he wasn’t in the sky at all.

  44. There was the sun. As if a new horizon.

  45. He kept on climbing and thought that this was ridiculous.

  46. He was tired and cold and beginning to get hungry. His mum and dad would be worried. Who climbs a ladder into space anyway? It didn’t make sense.

  47. He didn’t think he could do it because it seemed impossible.

  48. But there he was. On the edge of the uppermost cloud and the arse-end of space.

  49. He went up. Climbing.

  50. Up, up, up.

  51. Soon, everywhere around him turned black. He was closer to the stars than ever before.

  52. This was space, he thought.

  53. So, he kept on climbing.

  54. His arms ached and his legs ached. Every muscle contracted. Every bone almost snapping. Ligaments creaked and his skin, dry as sand, tore and bled from blisters.

  55. The moon was very close to him. It was massive. A huge while ball. From this distance, it looked chalky and dust seemed to rotate slowly from where it let off.

  56. Now, strangely, the top of the ladder became the bottom.

  57. Now weightless, he didn’t notice the difference. He reached the last rung and somersaulted in slow-motion, landing on the moon, small explosions of grey dust burst at his feet.

  58. Now on the moon, he smiled, in having achieved what he set out to do.

  59. Over by Mons Hadley, there stood a girl.

  60. A girl with golden hair.

  61. He waved to him and smiled.

  62. He went over to her and said, Are you the one who reached out to me?

  63. She said, Yes, that was me. I saw you all the way from up here.

  64. Do you live on the moon, he said.

  65. Yes, she said.

  66. Alone?

  67. Alone, she said. There’s nothing much to do really, except for stare into space.

  68. The boy looked up and everywhere was night.

  69. It was night every day for the girl.

  70. The girl lived in Mon Hadley and had golden hair.

  71. The boy said, Why don’t you come down from here?

  72. The girl said, Why would I do a thing like that? I’m lonely, yes, but I’m happy here.

  73. Who would be happy being alone?

  74. Not being alone, she said. Just away from everyone down there.

  75. They turned and looked ‘down there’ at the blue/white circle that was Earth. The ladder went all the way down to a dot that was his garden.

  76. The boy asked her, How long have you been up here?

  77. Oh, ages, she said.

  78. But why are you here, he said.

  79. And she said, The trains were too crowded. There were too many people in the streets. I got angry one day and left. Came to the moon. I needed time to feel calm.

  80. Do you feel calm?

  81. I do now, thanks, she said.

  82. Soon, both the boy and the girl were shivering because the moon was a cold place to be.

  83. The boy asked her to come back with him. It would be warm and he maybe there would be less people if they beat rush hour.

  84. The girl with golden hair shook her head, but it was in space, so her hair swung out slowly as though underwater.

  85. I’m not leaving without you, said the boy.

  86. I can come down when I like, said the girl. I can just jump and I’ll be back home.

  87. Again, the boy said, I’m not leaving without you.

  88. And with that, the girl grabbed him by the collar.

  89. She pushed him so hard he fell.

  90. He fell upwards. Through the darkness of space, and then the lightness of the sky.

  91. He hit the ground with a thump.

  92. The ladder followed after, breaking the tiles on the roof of the house across the street and a few other houses a few streets over.

  93. The boy looked up.

  94. He couldn’t see the girl because it was daylight.

  95. He waited and waited for her.

  96. He saw her every night and made her laugh. Her laugh was the only sound at night.

  97. Her golden hair like a small patch of light in the night sky.

  98. She would come back down in her own time.

  99. And he waited for her.

  100. All she had to do was jump.

© Michael Holloway