If you participated in Boot Camp, you’ll remember that we demanded the inclusion of certain items in your stories. Aside from being a clever way to weed out impostors in the submission manager (just kidding) (not really) (okay, kidding, but wouldn’t that have been clever?), this struck us as a nifty–and maybe even useful–technique to help get writers’ imaginations going. One of our requirements may or may not have been the inclusion of a reference to the 1969 moon landing. (I can’t tell you, because the packets are SECRET.)
That said, a whole lot of moon landing talk showed up in our Boot Camp stories, so as we read, we’re picking out some of our favorites. Here are five of them:
1. ‘Thank You, Cleveland’ by Crystal Patenaude
In Mason, Maine, the Marigold was the least popular diner, but it’s where Tessa and I spent a lot of our time. Her mom Bunny was a waitress there so no one bothered us and we got free food. We’d sit in the corner booth, the one with a photo of the 1969 moon landing hanging over the napkin dispenser, and look out onto Spring Street while eating French fries. Sometimes it seemed like we knew everyone who walked by, knew where they lived, where they worked, even where they bought their milk.
2. ‘Inconstant Moon’ by Seana Graham
That was the kind of person my brother was—the kind who could recite Shakespeare to suit the occasion. But it was not the kind of person he had been recently.
“Shit,” he said. He sighed.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“I don’t know—it’s wrecked now, isn’t it?”
“The moon. I mean it used to be this mystical unobtainable object. People were inspired by it. Poets. Lovers. Freakin’ Shakespeare. And then along comes 1969, and there’s NASA, there’s Neal Armstrong and all the rest after him, trampling around on it, leaving their litter, leaving their grubby little footprints. I mean, how can anyone write poetry about it anymore?”
I thought about it. I squinched my toes down into the cold sand beneath the warm sand’s surface. “I guess the poets will just have to include the footprints now too.”
3. ‘Museum of Air’ by Gail Webber
Mr. James continued, “I’m sure you can understand the need to establish the chain of ownership and therefore the authenticity. That’s critical with something as unique as each of these samples is, as you can imagine. Of course, we have more details on file. These are just the pertinent facts. See this one?”
Archive #2986: Apollo 11, 1969 From: Plastic bag heat-sealed in Lunar Module, and recovered from interior of splashdown capsule by John Aloysius, passed to MoHA…
He stopped reading. Something from the moon landing? Though he hadn’t been asked, Guidry nodded. “I know about us walking on the moon, Neil Armstrong, the whole ‘One step…giant leap’ thing.” But there was nothing in this jar, either. How could this place, this exhibit, be “all set up”? And what did Mr. James think was in this jar?
4. ‘Underground’ by Daphne Tan
Comparatively recently the people here, who are perpetually in motion, never at peace, transported one of their own to the Moon. Why they named their mission “Apollo” and not “Luna” or “Selene” or something more logical, since after all they weren’t aiming for the Sun, is a puzzle. They took scrapings. They planted a flag. My Aunt Diana, or Artemis as she preferred to be called, was its patron goddess, and I think she would have been affronted by such insolence.
5. ‘Hunted’ by Katharina Kolata
The cold night air forced me to stay where I was. If I fled now, they’d hear me. I stayed put and fought my urge to flee. The surface of the water reflected the waxing moon like a damaged pearl. It would have been lovely if it weren’t for the two human silhouettes sitting in front of a tent.
“Science has come quite a way since Armstrong landed up there.” The figure on the right pointed to the moon. At night, humans looked all the same to me, but I could tell my creator from the hunter by his voice.
Come back next week to see some of our favorite uses of the word “laconic”!