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Picture of the Day
September 15, 2022
I don't remember anything before I was born. I don't remember being born. The first thing I remember is the sun, so bright and hot. It warmed me through and through. I glowed with it. // I remember the moons. Crescent, half, full. I thought each was its own separate body, a necklace of 28 stones encircling the Earth. That's how clueless I was. There was no one to teach me. I was surrounded by fools. We are all born ignorant, but true stupidity is not wanting to learn. // Anything I know, I taught myself. I was curious, observant. I watched through the night and learned the moon, internalized its rhythms. And even when it disappeared I knew it was still there, a black circle in a black sky, invisible to all but those looking for it. I looked for it and tracked its slow arc, a secret hidden in plain sight. Any rube can fawn over a full moon, but the new moon is for connoisseurs. We savor its subtlety. I was alone but happy. // Surrounded by the dull, inert masses, I prided myself on my intellect with all the usual arrogance of the autodidact. I guess I got insufferable because finally my exasperated neighbor told me we were nothing more than hairs on the head of something called a human and, furthermore, while most hairs were objects of vanity to be shampooed and groomed, I was unwanted, unsightly, the lowest of the low. An ear hair. // That took me down a peg. For all my imagined wisdom, I'd failed to grasp the obvious. // I was mocked by those around me. They told me we were nothing but dead cells, protein filaments sprouting from follicles in the dermis. Outgrowths with a function, perhaps, but no purpose. // At first I denied it, it was such a blow to my self-image. But I learned to accept it. And dreaded the day when this human would look in the mirror and mistake me, in all my individual glory, with all my self-respect, as something to be disdained and plucked away. // Fortunately, he seemed to have an aversion to mirrors, which is how I made it this long without knowing my true nature. // I clung to life with the tenacity of a barnacle on a rock. It got so I could discern the human's thoughts vibrating through the stiff upper part of his ear--the helix, to be precise, almost translucent under bright light. So I knew where we were going before we got there. // A bell rang as we entered. One whole wall was a mirror and I saw myself in proper context for the first time, watched in horror as the trimmings fell around me. But those styled hairs gleaming with tonic were unfazed, chanting, "After you're gone we'll still be here!" // I didn't want to believe them but out came the barber's tweezers. He worked his way up the ear, then pointed at me and laughed, said I was the longest "wild" he'd seen. He asked the man if he wanted to keep me be but my human just laughed. Everyone was laughing but me. // Suddenly I was in the grip of something, something unrelenting. Firm. Inexorable. Undeniable. Then with the slightest flick of a wrist I was torn loose, yanked from the only life I'd ever known, cast into the void. Drifting down to the black and white squares, I thought of the moon. // They said I'd been dead my whole life, a mere aggregation of soulless cells. Mostly keratin. But what did they know? What looks dead might be alive, and what seems alive might be dead inside. // It was only when I was floating free that I saw I had not been separate from that man. I was him, as surely as he was an essential component of a totality he couldn't understand. Now I was merging with that larger thing, decaying, particle by particle flaking off, borne into the sky to fall as rain on a continent an ocean away.
  I don't remember anything after that. 🌑