Now the Moon Added£1.59
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(A short story of 6193 words)

Now the Moon


by Clive Collins

A man, his life and the moon.

He was named Arthur James for his father, but to his mammy he was, and always would be, Jimmy.

It was his mammy claimed him. She would walk him out in the big pram to one park or another and in every season of the year. Out late with him she would stop sometimes, the park gates clanged shut behind her by the parkie and then the rattle of the chain between the bars and the snapping of the well-oiled lock. Dark in the winter when they took their way homewards and darkling in the summer and it must have been then that Jimmy first saw the big pale thing up in the sky and heard his mammy name it for him, though if that were so he had no remembrance of it.

What he remembered was her singing to him of the moon, remembered the sweetness of her voice as she formed the words, “I see the moon, the moon sees me”.

“Can the moon see me, Mammy?” he would say. “Can it really?”

She would answer that, yes, the moon could see him. “For there’s a man in the moon, Jimmy. Look up now and you’ll see him, too. He’s smiling at you.”

“But what of the old woman?” he would say, rehearsing again the little conversation he and his mammy must have had a thousand times.

“And what old woman would that be?” his mammy would say. “It’s a man up there, not a woman, young or old.”

“You know, Mammy, her as got tossed up in the blanket.”

“Oh, her! Well now…” And then there would be one rhyme or another about the old girl.

At home sometimes, in the afternoons if the weather was such as to keep the two of them in the house, Jimmy would fetch the old books from out of the cupboard under the stairs and his mammy would read to him. He liked her to read the poem by Mr. Robert Louis Stevenson, which was how his mammy called him. It was her way, just as it was her way to say “pome” for poem, so that, when Jimmy went to school, he was chastised by the teacher for favouring his mammy’s way of speaking and not the teacher’s.

“Has the clock a face, Mammy?” he would ask after listening to the poem and his mammy always answered that it had and a pair of hands besides. Then, before he could say more, she would read him the “pome” again.

He had not been long at the school when his mammy was sent for by the teacher and given what for because Jimmy was that tired in the morning hours he could scarce keep his head up from off his desk.

“James tells me you take him to the cinema at night, Mrs. Mooney. Is that true?”

His mammy said it was a case of yes and no. “Some nights, yes, I do take him to the pictures. It’s for the company, you see, his daddy never being at home. But it isn’t every night. I haven’t the money for one thing.”

When they went to the pictures in the week it was somewhere local, somewhere they’d no need to lay out money on ‘bus fares to get to. The farthest they ever ventured was the Trocadero, which stood on a sort of island across from one of the parks they had lingered in when Jimmy was still in his pram. To get to the Troc they would walk through the Gough Road allotments and then cross over Coleman Road, passing a public house on the way there, and passing it again on the way back. The Full Moon the pub was called and the sign that stood on top of a tall post in front of it showed the name and a painting of a big round moon looking down from a cloudless sky on a village by the sea...

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