I am restless on the lounger by my pool, the desert night air hot and stifling. A nearby saguaro indicates blessing with raised arms, but benediction doesn’t arrive to ease my angst. Instead, a post-haboob smell tickles my nostrils—the tiniest of dust particles remaining suspended like vapor—hours after the evening storm has departed.
The yang needs the yin to be whole. The active needs the passive for balance. The sun associates with heat, action, energy; the moon with cool, calm, enticing charm. The moon remains remote, teasing, holding on to coolness.
From next door, I hear a song: “Fly me to the moon.” It rents through me.
Vinni, my astrophysicist, had loved the song.
A familiar voice whispers in my ear: “Look at the moon.” A tryst? My eyes search the enticing light from the unattainable, icy presence in the sky.
My man in the moon, Vinni, waves. From the stretching miles, he jogs my senses and rolls a wave in my chest.
Tonight, the lunar shape shows a bite taken out of it, a clean chomp from a hungry mouth. The irregularity bothers. I dislike things that aren’t whole: a book without a cover, a collapsed, scooped out pie, my incomplete self.
Instead of greeting him, I ask my other half a question, “Who ate that slice of the moon to leave it imperfect?”
Heat dances around me. Does he savor my unexpected interest?
“A racing asteroid hit the lunar mass,” Vinni says. “The crash caused a chunk to break off, like a bit of a cookie coming apart.” He knows I have an impossible urge to fix, to make things whole again.
“What happened to that piece? It must be reattached.”
“Long ago, a piece from the moon fell to earth, hurtling through space, landing in the Atlantic Ocean. Drifting up from the bottom of the sea, that chunk found a home northward.”
“Someone should find this mass and carry it up. Then, the moon will be permanently round. And, I’ll find my way up to you with it.”
“Honey, some things happen in their own time.”
“Where is it, this chunk?” I ask.
“It’s as perfect a piece of land as you can imagine—on earth. With volcanoes alongside glaciers and seductive lights. It exists,” he pauses, “but no one’s found it, yet.”
He blows me a kiss that flies through the sky. I reach up for it and look at my hands. Nothing. When I gaze up, the man in the moon has disappeared. His voice in my ear, a memory. The branches of the cactus appear to go lower.
My heart shrivels. You’ve let me down, Vinni!
The neighbors have turned the music off.
I squeeze my eyes shut. Around me, the desert air pulses. My heated body throbs, yearns. I allow for light to travel through space. No yin to my yang. I wrap hot arms around my shoulders.
Startled, I shiver.
My body receives a welcome, cold hug.
Sudha Balagopal’s short fiction has appeared in The MacGuffin, The Tishman Review, Superstition Review, Gravel Magazine and Lowestoft Chronicle among other journals. She is the author of a novel, A New Dawn, and two short story collections, There are Seven Notes and Missing and Other Stories. You can find her online on her website.