12+ Take my word for it: the best object in the night sky is the Moon. And you don't need an expensive telescope to observe it. A pair of binoculars does the trick. I'm looking at the Moon now, leaning against a wall to steady my hands, and it's a beautiful sight. No wonder it inspires poets and lovers.
Mind you, I'm no poet. I find all that rhyming guff too flowery, and as for the non-rhyming stuff, I don't get it. That may explain my career in banking and finance. I was better at Maths than English at school.
I'm not a lover, either, not since my last divorce. Thankfully, our separation was more amicable than my first wife, who took me to the cleaners. I'm retired now, but I earned big bucks back then, and because she'd stayed home and raised the kids, the judge thought it was a fair settlement.
The 64,000 dollar question I have for that judge is how would he feel losing his house, car and boat and only seeing his kids and the family dog once a month?
I close my eyes and take a deep breath. Although I'm momentarily blind, I can still see the Moon's bright image on the back of my eyelids.
My second wife and I tried counselling before we finally called it quits. The counsellor said I had "unresolved emotions" from my first marriage, "unexpressed pent-up anger". Honestly, the guff counsellors spout is almost as bad as poets.
The wind is picking up, and I regret not wearing a warmer vest. But it's a quarter Moon, the best time to view its features, so I tense my muscles to stop shivering and adjust the binoculars.
My first marriage lasted fifteen years, my second ten. I sometimes reflect on how things might have turned out if I'd met my second wife first. We were more companionable. But then, we were also older, there was less passion, and we had no kids.
I don't see the kids much nowadays. They've grown up and have their own lives, and the last I heard, I'll be a granddad again soon. The kids never warmed to my second wife, though they didn't seem to mind it when their mum remarried. Perhaps they have "unresolved emotions" about me, too.
Confession time: I was unfaithful to my first wife. I don't know how the kids found out, but the divorce was messy, and everyone blamed me for it. Perhaps the judge was right, and the counsellor. I wasn't unfaithful to my second wife. I'd just "forgotten how to love", or so the counsellor said.
Share and showcase your writing — fiction, nonfiction and reviews — as a Guest Writer on Tall And True.
Clouds are blowing in, obscuring my view, which is disappointing. I've always found it odd how the Moon is associated with poets and lovers. On its own up there, aloof from the Earth in a distant orbital dance, is hardly romantic. It looks lonely.
I pack away my binoculars and, with a farewell glance at the night sky, head home alone.
© 2023 Robert Fairhead
Furious Fiction is a short story writing challenge run by the Australian Writers' Centre on the first weekend of the month. I have submitted an entry to every Furious Fiction since my first in April 2020. Except for October 2023's challenge, when I was in Perth for the weekend on a whirlwind trip for a family wedding.
To satisfy my Furious Fiction fix, I decided I'd write an unofficial short story, as I did in 2022 when it briefly moved from a monthly to a quarterly challenge, using October's brief and respecting the 55-hour deadline. However, the following weekend, I was involved in the Voice to Parliament Referendum and the next, while still in shock from the result, I narrated and released a podcast episode, the last of a three-part story inspired by the Voice.
So, the first chance I had to write my short story was on the last weekend of October. The brief was:
- The story had to feature someone looking through either a TELESCOPE or BINOCULARS.
- It had to include a five-digit number, e.g. 90210 or 10,000, etc.
- And the words BLIND, WIND, FIND and MIND (did you spot them in my story?).
The Writers' Centre announced the results for October's Furious Fiction on the Friday before the weekend. I had planned to feature a telescope in my story. But I read the showcased entries and some featured telescopes, and they were good, so I changed tack on my astronomical equipment. And the truth is binoculars are perfect for observing our nearest celestial neighbour in the night sky, the Moon.
As often happens with my Furious Fictions, after labouring on the opening paragraph, The Lonely Moon "wrote itself". I let my first-person narrator's conversational words and emotions flow, with appropriate callbacks, confident I'd know when I'd written the last sentence.
That may sound big-headed, but four years of official and unofficial Furious Fictions have given me confidence in my writing process. And I highly recommend the Writers' Centre's monthly challenge to any aspiring writer. Or those like me who crave the monthly fixes!
N.B. You might like to read my September 2023 Showcased Furious Fiction story, My Speech.
Robert is a writer and editor at Tall And True and blogs on his eponymous website, RobertFairhead.com. He also writes and narrates episodes for the Tall And True Short Reads storytelling podcast, featuring his short stories, blog posts and other writing from Tall And True.
Robert's book reviews and other writing have appeared in print and online media. In 2020, he published his début collection of short stories, Both Sides of the Story. In 2021, Robert published his first twelve short stories for the Furious Fiction writing competition, Twelve Furious Months, and in 2022, his second collection of Furious Fictions, Twelve More Furious Months. And in 2023, he published an anthology of his microfiction, Tall And True Microfiction.
Besides writing, Robert's favourite pastimes include reading, watching Aussie Rules football with his son and walking his dog.
He has also enjoyed a one-night stand as a stand-up comic.