moon path / Ana Carolina Meira de Souza

I fixed up my uniform and put the books in my bag. Mom kept saying “don’t forget your umbrella,” the rainy season had started. That day I tied my hair up, arranging it as a fluffy flower with some red star clips, I’d begged my mom to buy – maybe I would impress Jonas. The daily song continued: “Tie your shoes, here is your lunch, did you get everything? Now give me a kiss.” Mom walked with me to the entrance with her warm morning smile and caressed my head, “Ana, be careful on your way, ok?” She waved me goodbye from our greenish gate with rusty orange spots. Dad had promised he would soon paint it, but “In a blacksmith’s house, the stick is made of wood,” he kept saying. I never understood really what sticks had to do with gates.

I didn’t really notice my way to school, just looked once to the sun, mingled with some clouds whispering about the hot wet weather. The rest of the time I spent thinking about whether Jonas would like my stars and how we could share some fruit I had brought for lunch. I first saw him standing in one of the lines of third graders to sing the national anthem. He was wearing his favorite Superman watch and his older brother’s former red sneakers. I carefully waved at him out of the sight of the professors and he answered with his familiar giddy smile.

“Hey Jonas!” was the first thing I said when I found him again on break time. “You gonna play football with the boys now?”

“Huum, not today, I’m gonna stay around. We could eat together if you want! I finally remembered one of my dreams! I wanted to talk about it today.”

He was shorter than me at the time, but just as slight. I had never made fun of him because of that, but I think it was the first thing I noticed when we met last year. He was standing in the classroom reading a small book with a colorful, funny cover. I didn’t really hang out with boys, but I just had to ask, and he lent me my first book about stars. After that, I could not stop reading about them or hanging out with Jonas. Sharing lunch had become the time we also shared stories. So, for the last couple of weeks of our almost daily lunch, Jonas said to me that he kept having a dream, but he had never been able to remember it until that day.

“So, I dreamt yesterday that I went to the moon!”

We sat on a corner on the inner courtyard, near some plants. I could see the weather outside had begun to cover the sun, while our colleagues kept laughing, playing and eating around us.

“We found a small red stone on the street… small, but so pretty. I remember thinking it was like a red marble. First, I held the stone in my hand, and you touched it too, and then traveled to the moon!”

“And what was there?”

“Huum, it was… full of people.”

“Were there aliens?!”

“No… I think, just people, they seemed very busy, trying to build something, I don’t know, maybe a ship.” He stretched his arms trying to show the size of it. “I think we should try to go there.”

“I don’t know…we can try to find a red marble on Cido’s stall. It’s on our way home anyway. But I don’t know if I want to go to the moon, though. It’s too far. Mom would be worried, I think.”

“I think we should try, if we go, we can come back before your mom comes back from work. You are even wearing stars today. Can you imagine seeing them close?”

I laughed. I loved the stars as much as he loved the moon. We were always exchanging the little we knew about them, magazine pictures, songs or silly discoveries. Going in that adventure filled me with excitement and curiosity. Maybe we could go to the moon! I waited for him at the school’s gate with the biggest smile ever.

“Oh, I forgot my umbrella!” He said when he noticed me holding mine. The dark cloud waltz had already hidden the sun. “Do you want me to carry yours? And you give me a lift if its starts raining.”

I passed him the umbrella with the same ear to ear smile.

“Let’s go!”

Cars and sirens, people and the smell of cooked meat on the streets could still not drive us to a typical day. Among the graffiti on the uneven walls, I walked side by side with Jonas, feeling how our usual path could be the beginning of a journey. I took one more look at the arranged stalls full of people chattering and selling all kinds of things, pillows bigger than me, cleaning cloths, shiny phone equipment, delicious sweets and the best brooms on the neighborhood! I laughed, imagining if the people in the moon even knew how to make brooms. Did they need them?

“Do you really think there are people on the moon?”

“I don’t know, but maybe there are people in other places, the sky is really big I think.”

“That’s true… you know, I read that we can’t see millions of stars in the night. Maybe we also can’t see the people out there.”

He gave me an amused look “Well sometimes we can’t even see ants!”

“And they are under us,” we laughed.

“We will be ants on the moon!” He put his free hand on his head like an antenna, giggling and poking me.

“Let’s walk faster, Ana, so we can find out!”

He ran a little in front of me, flipping the umbrella up and down.

“We are going to the moon!” I started humming.

He turned to me and pointed the umbrella up. “Up to the sky!” he chanted. When I heard a sound, a loud blow choking his voice. I looked behind. A scream. I turned to see Jonas and fell. “It’s just a child!” someone shouted. “It’s just a child!” again. Arms around me. No air inside. Pain. Shatter. Scream. Spasms. Me. Pain. Arms. Me. Only me.

I opened my eyes on my mother’s lap. My body agonized, shivering. Eyes felt like heavy rocks. I turned abruptly and through up on the floor. Pain. “It’s ok, it’s ok.” She held me again. Pieces of images hurt my mind.

“Jonas…?” Mom held me tighter and I felt my eyes falling again.

I can’t remember when I first saw the news. Police officer confuses umbrella with fusil and kills boy in Rio de Janeiro. I’m not there, it’s been more than ten years, yet there is no distance. The sound of the streets calls and suffocate me, Jonas, so I look for breathing stars. I dream about you, again and again, see your night sky face… You blush like the universe and have the same swirled hair, like the planets to come. Fragments of the moon fill my wish to see you, fragments of myself seek red marbles to show me the way.

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