And on clear nights, that is to say nights where the darkness was so pure that even the tiniest of celestial specs gleamed their little pokes of light in full, Allister would lay on his back in a field and gaze up at all that he knew so little about but was so comfortable under. On some clear nights, he would be alone. On others he would have company.
One particular night brought Allister together with his cousins. Mandy, whom was close to Allister in age and resembled him in Cromleyian fashion, saving the distinct mustache (which at the time, Allister himself, who was barely scraping his early adulthood, showed only the vaguest of shadows), and little Benny-who was little and held the full name of Benjamin.
The three gazed directly up and, on the grass blanket beneath them, they talked of all things lunar-what they knew and what they assumed. Drawing in breathes of absolute night, scented with the pureness of the dew that would soon come and underscored by a subtle but charming symphony of talented crickets, they spoke of the craters. Of the tides and how exactly they assumed the moon conducted the oceans. And Benny talked of the Man in the Moon and how he assumed he played the banjo.
And they wondered what that man ate and what he drank. It was Allister who assumed he ate from the contents of the craters. And it was Mandy who assumed he drank the light and that this made him glow in the dark. And Benny asked, as young ones with shortened names tend to do, why-if the man on the moon glowed in the dark-one could not see him. And Allister answered, as one must do when young ones ask, that it was because everything around the man was glowing as well. If the man wanted to be seen, he would have to adhere from sipping the light and this would kill him.
Why one would answer someone so young in such dramatic fashion is still in question. The answer is lost somewhere in that darkness, in a chasm too deep and unchanneled that even a night filled with all the universe's shining stars sheds far too little light. And Benny, to his young heart's credit, did not cry. Did not even sniffle. Instead, he partook in the awkward pause that all three were now quietly breathing.
And who tossed first is anyone's guess. For, not one of them had the same answer. But someone threw first. Someone threw a stone for no other reason than the pause was all-encompassing and threatened to swallow them in eternal awkwardness. And the stone collided with the wall of silence, cracking its hardening shell. And, quite suddenly, as though the crickets had worked them into a frenzy through premeditated crescendo, they were all throwing rocks with all their might at the moon. Not at the man and not at the light. At the moon. And, though it was never said aloud, they all mused inside their heads that their throws made craters and that their craters erupted in additional brightness and that they were responsible for the moon changing hue.
Not one of them, giggling loudly, thought of the glowing man who most certainly had dropped his banjo and was frantically seeking cover in a land lacking trees and ledges, but raining rocks.
And, though no one would ever know the first throw, all would forever remember the last one. It was Benny's. His little face beaming, his little arm winding back and releasing a small stone in a toss just barely strong enough to clear the length of his body, but lost in the night. And, if either Mandy or Allister knew enough at the time they would have had the proper answer. But, neither did know that, as that small stone left Benny's tiny hand, a lunar eclipse was underway. And if there were some light to shine on this night, one could see that the stone landed mere inches from Benny's feet. But, there was no light and the stone, instead, disappeared into night and destroyed the moon.
Benny screeched in a pitch that killed crickets.
The moon was deduced to barely a sliver. A sliver that turned blood red. No one knew what to do. In moments like these, two things can happen. Shock sets in and one can scream bloody murder or one can stare straight ahead with mouth agape. Benny continued in the former whilst Allister and Mandy partook freely in the latter. How do you explain such feats? How do you tell a child that they did not destroy a bright new world when that world floats broken before you and the stone that last flew towards it was released from that child’s own tiny hand?
The sliver bled and barely hung on its own. And you will have to pardon Allister and Mandy for they did not think of the glowing man. Nor of his banjo. For they were more concerned with the loss of the moon. Of the tides, they knew very little in retrospect. But, what they knew was enough to know that the tides were important, that the moon conducted these. And, thusly, if by only tidal standards, the moon was important, too. And, so, their concern lay in the moon. Here, Benny differed from them, as well. For, when someone finally spoke, it was Benny. And what he said was a question. The words collected to form this: "Do you think he is all right?"
And, in their barely adult knowledge, Allister and Mandy lacked a believable answer. But, there remained a sliver. And it was possible that the glowing man (and, yes, even his banjo) were on that sliver. And this they said to Benny. And, though he wanted so badly to believe, he could not for certain do so. And the elders of the moment could not properly support a sway to certainty either.
So, what they did next was follow Benny's lead.
He knelt in earnest. So, too, did Mandy and Allister. He folded his hands. So, too, did they. And he prayed. He begged. And they prayed and they begged. For safety. For the man and his banjo. And if it be a choice of one or the other, to please spare the man and help him, one day, find a new banjo. Benny closed his eyes. And so, too, did Mandy and Allister.
And when they opened their eyes (in what is true for both cause and effect and question and answer-that they, many times, just come to you), the moon beamed forth in full once more.