‘Sky holes’

A moon was hanging low in the sky, but it wasn’t the moon they knew. It was less than half the size, bluish and glassy, like a cataract.

“It’s daytime,” Anya said, “so why is there a moon in the sky?”

Wrinkling his eyes up towards the horizon, he found himself wondering the same thing. “Well, the moon never disappears, Anya. It’s always there, but it’s normally too bright to see it.”

“I know that. But that’s not the real moon.”

“No? What is it then?” Uncle Mark’s voice sounded interested, but his mind was more focused on finding the bow of a Lego pirate ship that had fallen into the grass.

“It’s a hole, you dummy. Lots of holes. You can see right through to the other side.”

He smiled. “Oh yes? And why are there lots of holes in the sky?”

“To help us breathe of course! Like the holes in Floppy’s box.”

“I don’t think they’re really holes Anya. The sky doesn’t have holes.” He hesitated, trying to find the right words to describe the expanse above them, but realised he didn’t have the first clue what sky might be made of.

As he pondered this question, he looked up. And for a second, he forgot how to breathe. Holes, dozens of holes, opening up above. Each one formed almost entirely predictably, like a lit match dropping into snow. With the slow sureness of a photograph developing, they became opalescent; otherworldly. He felt a shiver in his shoulder blades. There were already too many to count.

“It does have holes!” Anya answered back. She smiled gleefully at Mark’s hanging jaw. “See? I was right.”

“Wh- what’s behind them?” He could barely muster a whisper. In contrast, Anya was victorious. She closed her eyes briefly and breathed at a normal pace. Her eyelids flickered upwards. Suddenly, everything became sharp, from a magpie’s flight path to the way Anya’s orange party skirt creased gently over her knees. Colour, movement, sound, all lasered themselves into his mind in high definition as something he might later need to recall.

“Something burning,” she replied, sitting cross-legged, moving her delicate fingers over the pile of angular plastic lumps. “Lots of things, actually. They’re letting the bad air out.”