The face in the moon, the one that used to smile down at the Earth, is real.
He is a myth told around campfires, a fable to learn from, a story to tell children as they crawl beneath the covers. He is whoever the humans want him to be.
He followed their lips from the sky as they told his stories, as they talked of their friends and family, as they shared ideas and dreams. Looking down from the heavens with glowing eyes and keen ears, the sun would tease him over his obsession with the humans. But he wanted to hear everything the humans had to say. It was poetry to him.
For millennia, the moon looked down at the humans and heard their stories. He regaled the stars, planets and fellow moons with stories of man and woman.
The moon’s stories started out in the dark, as all stories do. There was no light beyond a few flickers of sparks that skittered across the ground. Man and woman fumbled around, they were searching for something eternally burning like the sun and moon that lived above them.
Man learned to harness the skittering sparks, corralling them with sticks and thin blades of grass. With more light, they could hoard their food and water. They learned to grow, they grew their people, their cities and their support for one another. Man and woman’s world got brighter, as bright as a star in the sky. The moon joked to his friends that it seemed as if man was trying to compete with the stars.
In the years to come, men and women of earth called out to the moon, to quell the rising oceans and to tell them of the passage of time. They sent prayers and pleas to the moon, begging for help. The moon enjoyed these prayers, it showed him that these people were worthy of more than just his advice. The moon obliged. He allowed man and woman to board his oceans, to travel far and wide; he allowed them to track time using cascades of crescent lights.
The human’s world got bigger and was suddenly a dazzling light among the stars. Speckles of blinding light covered the surface, barring some areas that reminded the moon of the times when man and woman fumbled through the dark. Man had achieved great things, he no longer begged the moon to quell the oceans or show him the time. He had mastered the seas with his machines and told time with such accuracy that cities would ring with bells as the hours changed. The moon sang the human’s music and painted their art in the stars to show his friends. He constructed the towering buildings and humming machines with his words and rhymes. His friends cheered over the human’s success, and the moon couldn't help but smile.
But the face they see in the moon is now squinting. He watches apprehensively from the sky. He counts the loud bangs and pops that echo amongst the lights, afraid to look away since he first heard the screams amidst the humming machines. He remembers when the peaks of smoke and fire covered their world, suffocating the green and the bright lights, replacing it with the toxic, radiating glow of human bloodlust.
He no longer shares the humans’ stories with his friends. While the stories started as inspirational epics of man’s stumbling through the dark and their quest to find light, his friends cheering on the human advancements and success, they are now dreadful tales of the human’s destruction. The moon couldn't bear to tell them of the discord and violence that the humans have resorted to in search of burning flames. He cannot bring himself to scare them.
That bloodlust has always existed, the moon realized. It hummed alongside their desperate prayers and calls to the moon, but the moon was in such awe of the humans he had never noticed until now. But now the moon has no choice but to acknowledge that sickening hum. He cries. He weeps alongside the bangs and pops, his tears mix with the smoke and the fire of the human’s anger.
But the moon still listens to their stories. He listened as the humans encased the power of the sun in one of their machines. Man had done it. The eternal burning flames just within their grasp. He heard them decimate populations with it. He watched them collect the wisdom of the stars in boxes. He heard the words that man used to manipulate his fellow man with his new-found knowledge. Their stories are still poetry to him, gruesome poetry.
He tries to share his opinions with cries from the oceans and letters written along the curves of the crescent lights, but the sounds are too quiet and the lights too dull to be seen. While it was once enough to get their attention, the humans have grown accustomed to something much brighter.