1638 c/o Becky Lang


1638 began on a Friday. Greg was lying on the ground outside, staring at the earth. What was he supposed to do tonight? He took a knife out of his pocket and took a slice of the ground, rolling it up to make a mock telescope. A piece of gray, clay-like substance fell off and he put it in his mouth.

Emma had said she was busy, looking away while she took out her ponytail and started weaving it into two small braids. She didn’t have any binders so they just kind of tapered off in the ends and soon they had fallen out altogether.

What was she doing? Greg wondered. Maybe she’s visiting that crater about a mile away with Oliver, and the earth will move away from the sun and crater water will go purple and he’ll say Come in and she’ll get down to just a white cotton bra and panties and they’ll swim and throw mud clay at one another and laugh.

Greg got into a crab-walk position and stuck his knife into the ground. Slowly, he walked on three legs, twenty feet one way, and twenty feet back, cutting out a rectangular slice of ground with the knife. He took his piece of moon and then spun it like a lasso around his head until it grew miles long, and then he whipped it down to the earth.

It hit a man named John Wilkins in the head while he was running down a hill, chasing a quill pen that was rolling away. He picked it up by its end, thinking that it looked like a sandy gray cat tongue. It was hot and strange, with a few beads of the substance crumbling off the end. He put one in his mouth and it tasted like burnt marshmallow and rotten limes. He tugged at the rest and was surprised to find that it tugged back.

That night, John Wilkins was laying on his stomach and digging out loose bits of tobacco from his bed cushion when he heard a noise outside. He looked out the window and saw a brunette girl with dark circles under her eyes. She was running the other way and then suddenly stopped. She looked over her shoulder and then walked toward the house.

She looked about 14 and she was mostly naked. He opened the door and saw that she was bleeding in her elbow.

“That bird bit me,” she said, and her voice was thin like the holes in bread.

She was covered in gray mud. John went inside and wet a towel and then told her to come to the creek that was down the hill from his house. There was a small pond next to the creek, and they got inside. He cleaned the blood from her arm slowly and asked, “Why are you here?”

“Because it’s so boring up there,” she answered.

She motioned for John to come to her, and as he approached, she leaned her head to the right, exposing her neck as her wet hair fell. John touched her skin with the tip of his tongue and it tasted familiar so he gave it a big lap. The gray stuff crumbled off and it was the same sweet, scorched taste as before. He kept licking it until she was clean, and then she ran out and jumped into the creek.

He ran after her, but it was too late. He sat on the bank of the water and ate some grass from the ground, blade by blade. After a while, he walked up the hill and saw his pen. The next morning he woke up and threw up seven times, until he was just dry heaving. In his dizzy state, he poured some lemonade and began to write a book about building a bird-like contraption that can take you outside the sphere of gravity, after which you will float up to the moon. He called it The Discovery of a World in the Moone.