by Adam Forrest
I sent a letter to the Moon, first class, special delivery—to hell with the goddamn cost.
‘Say there, this address,’ said the lady from the postal service. ‘The Sea of Tranquillity? Near side of the Moon? You got this right?’
‘Yes ma’am, I think you’ll find they make deliveries there now,’ I said. ‘You just make sure it gets where it’s supposed to go.’
I was feeling pretty good about the letter. I bought myself a beer and went back to work on the farm. About a week later they told me they lost the damn thing.
They sent me a satellite photo, a black and white photo showing the spot at the bottom of a crater where the delivery drone went down. I could see my letter lying there next to all the mangled metal.
I bought my buddy Joe a beer. I told him how they lost the letter I wrote my son Mike at the Moon base.
‘That’s too bad,’ he said. ‘But you must’ve been crazy spending hundreds of dollars on a piece of mail. Why not call him up like everybody else?’
There are things I’ve been meaning to tell my son for some time. There are things my son should probably know.
I don’t like those video calls. It’s not easy to talk about things on a video call. The letter was perfect. Truly it was. I wrote down everything I wanted to say, just how I wanted to say it. It was a miracle how easy it came out. And now it’s lying at the bottom of a crater near the Sea of Tranquillity.
I wanted to tell him he was doing a heck of a job up there. It’s on TV all the time—the mining bases and the greenhouses. It makes me feel proud. The mess we’ve made down here, it’s about time we started something new.
I wanted to tell him how sorry I was about everything. I was gone too much when he was a kid. Way too much. His mother used to call me the drifter.
I wanted to ask him about the panning trip we took to Colorado together when he was eight or nine. I wanted to ask him if he remembered that—camping out in the canyon, digging under a tree by the river, gathering up gold flakes in his blue bucket.
I remember the boy found a real beauty on the third day, a solid gold nugget, all by himself, just smushing around in the wet dirt. He held it up and said, ‘We did it, Dad—we’re rich!’
The gold shone in his tiny hand.
I still remember the way he said it, ‘We did it, Dad—we’re rich!’ The joy in his voice echoed through the canyon. It rippled right through me. It was the only time I ever heard him excited.
I wanted to tell him what the doctors told me about the illness. I’ve still got some time left, but maybe not too much of it. Not easy to talk about these things. This is why I wrote the damn letter.
I wanted to tell the boy where my gold is at. He doesn’t know how much gold I found all those years I was gone. He may not need it. He says they’re paying him pretty well up there. But he should know where the gold is at, if he needs it. Not the sort of thing you talk about on a video call.
So I called up the postal service. ‘Look,’ I said. ‘You know exactly where the drone crashed. You’ve got the co-ordinates. Can’t you send someone out there to pick up the letter?’
The lady said: ‘They wouldn’t do that sir. It’s a question of manpower, of distances.’
I put the satellite photo on the mantlepiece and I tried to write the letter again. I thought the photo might help me find the words I found the first time.
But it was no use. I could only think about the letter lying there in the grey dirt. Everything I wanted to say, up there at the bottom of a crater, covered in dirt.
Adam Forrest is a writer and his stories have appeared in The Cabinet of Heed and The Mechanics’ Institute Review. He was selected in the top five in the Mechanics’ Summer Folk Tale Festival in 2019. You can find him on Twitter at @adamtomforrest.