October 2018_Version2.png

Paper Moon

By Kelly Fig Smith

Once, I chased a paper moon.

On a warm August night in Ohio, I drove forty-five minutes home from Columbus, the closest major city to our small, rural town. When you live in Mount Vernon, you go to Columbus for anything serious: hospital trips, concerts, and dates for which you’d prefer to stay out later than nine p.m. And while all those things provide a pleasing distraction for a night or two, I like going to bed in a place where the summer air is sweetened by wheat stalks, and lightning bugs rise up like steam from cornfields as the sun goes down.

My eleven-year-old daughter rode in the passenger seat while her six-year-old brother slept soundly in the back. We made our way into town, winding through the dark countryside. When I crested a hill, there, directly in front of us, hung the largest moon I’d ever seen.

Like you, I’ve seen my fair share of moons: pristine white, glimmering like textbook illustrations; set on fire, masquerading as the sun in their harvest fullness; Halloween moons, gray and shadowed, oblivious they’ve accidentally landed in the wrong month. This time, the moon was stained a parchment yellow—as if it’d been cut from fine linen paper—and I knew if I ran my fingers across it, I’d feel the soft-tissued veins against my skin. It was so comically big, the craters and shadows so entirely visible, that I laughed out loud. My daughter jumped in her seat.



About the Author

 Kelly Fig Smith holds an MFA in nonfiction from Lesley University. Her essay, “Do No Harm” was awarded the best essay prize for Creative Nonfiction Magazine’s Issue #55, their double memoir issue. Her essays have also appeared in publications such as The Rumpus, The Christian Science Monitor, and Literary Mama, among others. "Paper Moon" was shortlisted for The Pinch's 2017 Nonfiction Prize and is an excerpt from her forthcoming memoir, Whale Lines, for which she is currently seeking representation. When she’s not writing or chasing children around the house, Kelly can most often be found corn-field-watching from beneath an apple tree in her Ohio backyard. Look for more of her work in the book, Three Minus One: Parents’ Stories of Love and Loss, online. Connect with Kelly on Twitter @WhaleLetters or at https://kellyfigsmith.wixsite.com/mysite