Maybe We Are the Only Ones

I stood on the cold, ceramic tiles of my patio looking at the fading lapis sky and saw the faint outline of a half moon. Its crescent shape was ghostly, its surface pock-marked with craters.

I did not look at the moon often in spring. It was too chilly at night for my taste. But at this hour, with the sun sinking below the horizon, and its golden light washing my hair, it was warm enough to be outside with only a light jacket. I listened to the chickadees and gazed at the burgeoning moon.

I wondered if the wasps would return this summer. Last year, they’d built nests on the air conditioners on top of my roof. I killed them with Raid while they slept. The next day, I tore down their papery hives with a long screwdriver and tossed them over the side of the building.

There had been bats that fall too. They’d roosted on the candelabra that hung from the tin roof of my porch. I cleaned up their guano and replaced the broken votives with new ones to deter them from returning.

I leaned my elbows on the railing and watched as the moon deepened in the sky. Perhaps I should not have been so quick to kill the wasps and to chase away the bats. After all, we could be the only ones.

I understood our universe only abstractly. I’ve seen photos of goopy galaxies taken by the Hubble telescope. I’ve watched Nova and Intergalactic. I’ve looked at the panoramic images of dirt and desert taken by the Mars rover. It seemed incomprehensible that there was no other life other than our own, but it was a possibility. There was no evidence to the contrary.

I read once that a meteor crashed to Earth which contained evidence of fossilized bacteria. “LIFE ON MARS!” the headlines cried. It was retracted later as an error. In 1977, a strange signal had been picked up in space. The first contact with extraterrestrials? No. It was refuted as fraudulent. My mom once thought she saw a flying saucer over our horse pasture. She rushed out of the house, the screen door banging behind her. “I’m here! Take me!” she’d cried. It was just the Goodyear blimp passing overhead.

To be alone. It makes sense in a way. I am a creature of light, living amongst the bats and wasps, the sun and the chickadees. Gazing at the moon, I contemplated the galaxies and the solar systems, and the infinite nothingness hurts my head.

Yet, I still searched. I still believed.