The Moon is Only Humoring Us
It was a softly illuminated evening. Most of the neighbors we knew by sight had confined themselves in their homes because of the plague, so we had the street all to ourselves during our evening walk. It was Vieux Carre night in our cocktail spectrum, and Benedictine has always seemed somehow lunar to me in its flavor. I pointed up towards the moon as I swirled the ice in my glass.
“I don’t recall the sky being that greenish color very often,” I said. My mother looked skyward as well. She held one hand aloft, fingers moving gently, as if to feel individual air molecules and identify them by touch.
“Selene is doing what she can for us,” she said after a moment. I nodded, remembering the stories.
“’In the event of a plague, the Moon sends the element Selenite down to Earth in greater quantity,’” I quoted. Mother nodded with a faint smile, pleased that I should remember something so obscure. She finished the line from the old tome.
“The green she lends to the night sky shows her sympathy to the living planet with whom her fate is entwined, and her weeping gives all the green things of Gaia hope.” She took a sip of her own drink, the ice cubes clinking softly. She seemed thoughtful.
“A quick question?” I asked.
“Yes, of course,” she nodded. I met her eyes.
“Does it help?” I asked her, not cynically but with frankness. My mother shrugged.
“It causes no harm, but no, it does not help here on Earth,” she said, “because the solar winds in fact do not bring it near to us. That verse was a placebo for a more savage but more hopeful time, when it was thought that greater forces in the universe actually cared about humanity- a very quaint and touching but sadly illogical notion. More than likely the Selenite will go to Mars, to help the intelligent life there.” My curiosity was piqued. We had not discussed this before. We regarded one another and we both sipped from our half-empty (or possibly half-full) glasses.
“Does Mars have a civilization?” I asked. Mother nodded.
“Of course it does. The early writers back in the forties and fifties had those notions of societies on other planets for good reasons.”
“But they’ve never found any traces of life on other worlds,” I pointed out, just to see what she would say. Mother did not disappoint.
“The easiest way to tell that there is an advanced and highly sophisticated society there,” she said with a smile, “is that they have been very, very careful to remain completely hidden from us.”