Full moon and palm trees

Creatures of the Night – Flash Fiction

‘The trick to telling a lie is to keep it believable. There has to be some truth in the lie. And don’t elaborate with too much detail.’

I want to please my dad but my mother told me it was wrong to lie.

Dad must sense my hesitation because he crouches down and puts his hands on my shoulders.

‘Sometimes you have to lie…for the people we care about. You remember why we’re doing this?’

I nod earnestly. I’m secretly thrilled Dad brought me along but my tummy is wound tight like a rubber band. 

‘Good.’ Dad stands and glances up at the full moon. ‘Too much light. We’ll have to be careful.’ 

He pulls the black hood of his jumper over his head and reaches into his pockets for his multi-tool and torch.

A bat swooshes overhead and I visibly shiver. 

‘It’s okay, buddy,’ Dad says with gleaming eyes. ‘I know what I’m doing,’ 

He then slips inside the shed as I hide in the shadows of a mango tree to keep watch. It’s my job to make sure we don’t get caught.

Banging, clanking and tapping sounds spill from inside the shed. The noises probably aren’t that loud, but I’m terrified someone will hear us. 

I glance up to the sky, trying to calm myself. My mum loves the night sky. I’d asked her once why she liked it so much, and she’d sighed – not her tired sigh, a happy sigh. She’d said it didn’t matter who you were, the riches of the night sky were for everyone. Then she’d pointed out all the constellations by name and the features on the moon surface. 

My eyes go to the Southern Cross, then Centaurus. I mentally join the stars to form the half-man, half-horse.

I’m startled as a possum scampers across the back fence. I seek out the moon for comfort. In my head, I recite the moon’s seas – rains, tranquility, serenity, fertility, nect––

The backyard is suddenly flooded with light. My heart pounds as I race to the shed and whisper-shout to Dad. ‘The light’s come on. We have to––’

My eyes fall on the object illuminated by Dad’s torchlight.

It’s a telescope. Not like the cheap one we got for Mum off eBay for Christmas. It fell apart after a week. This one’s the real thing. ‘Wow!’ 

‘Come on!’ Dad grabs me by the arm and we race from the shed, but it’s too late.

The back door flings open and we’re confronted by my mother, her hair wet from a shower.

‘What are you two doing?’ 

I look to my dad but he fumbles his words. I think it’s the excitement of it all. Dad’s been saving up for months for the telescope. He’d hidden it in the shed, waiting until the night before her birthday to assemble it. 

I nod at Dad, as if to say, ‘Don’t worry. I’ve got this.’

I give Mum my best smile. ‘We were looking at the moon.’

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Photo by Tom Fisk via Pexels.

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