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it’s hard to make conversation when all i have to do is pull the tides, but i could talk to you for eons

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I don’t know how, but one day, I just came to be. The only other one there was the stars. He called himself Yamaguchi.

 

He greeted me with his gentle voice, alone in vast space. “Hello, Tsukishima.”

“...Hi,” was all I could manage to say. What else can you say when you suddenly just exist?

 

I was born (if you could call my sudden existence “being born”) with the knowledge that my only job was to pull the tides and get light from the sun in different ways every day. It was sort of a hassle, but it’d be the only thing I’d have to do for billions of years, so I guess I’d get used to it.

 

We didn’t talk that much, Yamaguchi and I. What was there to talk about? “Hey, Tsukishima, one of my stars died today!” “Oh... my condolences...?” It was silent almost the whole time, save for the crashing of the waves I’d listen to so I could temporarily eliminate my billion-year boredom and the few times Yamaguchi would hum silent melodies. It was serene. Sometimes, I wanted to take a break from the tides to listen closely. He breaks the silence from time to time in different ways for the most random things, like giving me a nickname.

 

“...Tsukki.”

“T-Tsukki?”

“Tsukki! I’ll call you that from now on! Tsukishima’s a mouthful, anyway.”

“You’re the one who named me...”

“Let’s not dwell on the little details!”

 

He was definitely strange, but he wasn’t bothersome. Space was a cold, dark place and he illuminated it in a much subtler way than the blinding sun did. And, yes, I acknowledge that the sun was another one of his stars, and I sort of resent him for that, but I guess neither of us were in control of that. It was always going to be there and I’d just have to deal with it, like with everything else about my existence. It’s not like I chose to be the moon, to pull the tides on the earth while revolving around it, or have different phases. It’s just something I have to accept, something that will end someday (would it be a single day?), and until that time comes, I’ll just have to wait and do my job.

 

“I wanna try doing that someday.”

“Doing what?”

“That. Whatever you’re doing.”

“Pulling the tides? Revolving around this dumb planet?”

“Yeah. It gets boring being me, sometimes. Planets always revolve around my stars, and even those planets have moons revolving around them. I don’t really feel like I’m moving other than when my stars go through supernovas, which is pretty often, but I don’t think supernovas are the same as revolution.”

“I don’t know. I think supernovas sound much less repetitive and boring than just moving around the same place and seeing the same things all the time. And they’re pretty.”

“I don’t think I share your opinion of death being more appealing than movement, but to each their own.”

 

I would have said, “that’s not what I said,” but I understood how he drew that conclusion. And it’s not like his interpretation of what I said was completely wrong, nor did I care to clarify what I meant, so I saw no point in defending it. I don’t want to spend my time waiting to die arguing about such a trivial thing with a celestial body much older than me who probably knows a lot more than me.

 

Then life on earth came around. They weren’t all that annoying. It was definitely interesting to hear the different noises they made and it was a more or less pleasant surprise to have beings other than Yamaguchi make any kind of noise. I enjoyed dinosaurs the most. I didn’t have much to say about the others other than “they look dumb,” but pulling the tides felt different with them in the ocean. It was a little more difficult and I’m not sure if I minded that. I’d have to get used to it, after all. I’m not sure they were going anywhere any time soon.

 

“Hehe, that one looks funny,” Yamaguchi said, once more, out of no-where. It startled me; I almost caused a tsunami. I didn’t know what he was referring to, but I assumed it was one of the creatures that lived on earth. Since there were so many and he had no way to point to a specific one. I would ask him to describe it for me if I cared more, but I don’t think I do. All of them looked ridiculous and I saw no reason to ask a bunch of balls of gas which one in particular that he found ridiculous.

 

“I wanna try doing that,” he said, repeating his sentiment from before.

“Doing what?” I asked, in case he wasn’t referring to my tedious job, but rather, something that one of the creatures that lived on the planet was doing, like killing. Then I’d share that sentiment. I feel like killing something. I wonder what it’s like. I didn’t want to hurt any of these creatures, though, as stupid as they looked.

“What you’re doing.” Ah, this again. Maybe I should clarify my point this time around.

“I still think supernovas are preferable,” I said.

“I know you do… They’re pretty alright. It’s just that, if I had the choice, I’d want a change in pace. I bet pulling the tides feels a little different now that there are animals, right?”

“...Right.” He was observant.

“If I had the choice, I’d stay as a bunch of stars. But every once in a while, I’d want to be you and observe the earth even closer. If you experienced supernovas all the time without ever having pulled the tides, you’d wanna try to pull the tides too, right?”

“I guess you’re right. But what was that whole death and movement thing about last time we talked about this?”

“It’s exactly what it is. A supernova is the death of a star and you make the tides move. You prefer supernovas over moving the tides, therefore, you prefer death over movement.”

 

I thought about it and concluded that the thoughts I had after my first conversation with Yamaguchi about this were wrong; I did say that I preferred death over movement. There wasn’t really any point in denying it to myself because all I’m doing is waiting for the sun to explode in and the earth’s and my face so I can die and I finally won’t have to move the damn ocean. It’s true. I didn’t want to move anymore, I just wanted to die. So he was right after all.

 

The once quiet planet I revolved around was now filled to the brim with walking, talking, four-limbed headaches. They were tolerable at first. In fact, maybe I even found their hunting, survival skills, and the incoherent noises they made charming.

 

“Pretty innovative to use wooden spears as weapons to hunt!” Yamaguchi said, and I agreed.

“I agree. But I have a bad feeling about them,” I replied.

“Why’s that?”

“I’m not sure, honestly.”

 

The problem was that they evolved, developed the ability to communicate, and invented language . I have always resented the human race for coming up with the very idea of language. That time, each and every one of their voices was a voice I could hear. The things they did with their new skillset took the brain I don’t have and turned it inside-out, and back again, and threw it across the galaxy to have it come back like a boomerang; it was a headache, and I didn’t even have a head. More and more humans began to fill the world and I felt uneasy. I could hear more and more conversations, each one making me think that a conversation couldn’t possibly get more stupid, yet another one on the other side of the globe does , without fail. From time to time, they said something that wasn’t utterly ridiculous for a change, but there were just so much more of the stupid ones that they get overshadowed. It was absolutely absurd and their stupidity astounded me. I couldn’t take it anymore and vented about it to Yamaguchi.

 

Yamaguchi was laughing hysterically. “W-wait, they— they covered themselves in—” he stopped to wheeze, then continued, “—they REALLY covered themselves in honey to prevent flies from bothering their king?!”

 

My knee-jerk reaction whenever I hear something stupid spew out of the mouth of a human was anger, disdain, disgust, and frustration. Yamaguchi, on the other hand, laughed . He laughed because it was hilarious how stupid they were. I never even considered laughing and didn’t have the capacity to perceive it as funny until I heard Yamaguchi laugh about it. Then I laughed. I laughed until I ran out of breath. It was the first time I’ve ever run out of breath, and oddly, it felt much better than I imagined it would. Almost every time from then on, instead of having my metaphorical veins pop whenever humans did something stupid, I laughed in mockery, and it felt so much better. And it worked, but I noticed something happening. The world got more and more populated.

 

“Tsu—” He said softly, cutting himself off.

“What?” 

“Can’t— ...me? Hel— ...hear?... —kki?”

 

Then dread washed over me as I realized that he wasn’t speaking softly or cutting himself off.

 

“Y-Yamaguchi?” I called out to him, but all I could hear were overlapping human voices. “ Yamaguchi! ” I yelled for the first time in the billions of years I’ve existed. My call was met with nothing but more overlapping human voices, some saying that, perhaps, if they build a tall enough tower, they can reach God.

 

As if I’d let them. Not after messing with Yamaguchi’s voice.

 

While I was left alone with my own thoughts, lots of things happened to humans. The one that stuck out to me the most was when they finally, finally discovered that the earth was spherical, then the guys who realized it got persecuted for it because it was heretical. I couldn’t bring myself to laugh, no matter how stupidly funny it was. No, I was angry because someone on earth was finally smart enough to realize that the earth was round and they got punished because society collectively chose to be stupid and firm in their beliefs.

 

Rome was a thing. It was... Eh. Lots of people died, and I’d find it funny had I not been carrying the grief of losing the ability to hear the one thing I that I didn’t hate with my entire being. I would’ve found the 23 times Julius Caesar was stabbed priceless if I wasn’t venting my anger on the ocean. The waves crashed and crashed and sailors kept dying. Good. The screams of the distressed sailors were music to my ears, but I couldn’t find it in me to appreciate the melody like I once would have.

 

There was the protestant movement. Religion in general made me angry. Religion is the reason human progress has been slowed so much. I’d find it funny that a selfish king abandoned Catholicism just to be able to divorce his wives but all I felt was anger and pity for the poor women. I’d find it funny that his first child was not only someone who wasn’t heir to the throne, but also not even his , but then Anne Boleyn was executed for it. Yamaguchi would probably be going off on this shitty guy. Maybe he is and I can’t hear him.

 

I can’t fucking hear him.

 

Then, they began to make things that they called “constellations.” They looked at the sky and connected the stars to make images out of them. They told stories based on the constellations and I felt the heart that I didn’t have sink. These scum looked up at the night sky and said beautiful things about the formations they made. Because of this, for the first time, I took a good look at him. I couldn’t hear him, but I realized that, for billions of years, I never took the time to observe him. I could see the images they were making. I listened to their stories. I wonder if Yamaguchi could hear them. I wonder if he’s appreciating this as much as I do.

 

Did these poisonous pests deserve to perceive him like this? After severing the ties between the moon and the stars by being so loud and being so stupid, did they deserve to make stories of us? I couldn’t tell if this phenomenon calmed the fire of my hatred for humanity or fanned it to be larger.

 

I wish I had eyes so that tears could flow out of them.

 

There was the bubonic plague. A third of the population died, just like that. The image of a religious coward in a mask that looked like if a bird’s beak could rot like a banana, rubbing herbs on a dead man and telling their relatives (who would also die a couple of days after that) that it was God’s will that they died would have made me laugh to the point that it split my sides if I wasn’t trying to listen to space. Now that a third of the human population is gone, it must be easier to hear Yamaguchi, right? Or did they ruin my hearing so much that I would just never be able to hear him anymore? I kept trying to hear him. Maybe if I called him, he would answer, but I couldn’t find my voice. I haven’t spoken in so long because nobody was there to speak to me.

 

I wonder what Yamaguchi thought of all this. I wonder what he’d say. Would he laugh, too? Would he feel sorry for them while I laughed? That’s something he would do. What kept me comforted through these seemingly never-ending millenia was that Yamaguchi was probably laughing at them.

 

For a long time, Yamaguchi’s voice was the only one I heard, and I didn’t realize just how much I liked it that way until billions more invaded my mind.

 

Then, finally, finally after millenia of waiting, I learned how to tune their voices out.

 

“Yamaguchi?” I called to him. It was the first time I’d spoken in years. I wanted to hear his voice. It’s been thousands of years since I last did.

“Tsukki? Can you hear me?” he asked, sounding like he was in disbelief, his voice trembling ever so slightly. Maybe it’s always been like that? I’m not sure anymore.

 

When I heard him, I forgot everything. The weight of my hatred for humanity fell off of my surface and I felt light again for the first time in so long. I still hated them but I didn’t have to think of that now. All I had to do was pull the tides, take in light from the sun in different ways every day, and listen to his voice. 

 

I wonder what he did to pass the time before I came around. I’m not assuming that I’m the only moon that he’s ever talked to; in the solar system alone, there are a hundred and ninety-nine other moons than me, but when I could still hear him, he never talked to them. Did he ever try to talk to them? Can I even hear him talk to them? There must be other solar systems out there with way more moons. Has he ever tried to talk to them?

 

“Yes. Sorry if you’ve been trying to talk to me, I couldn’t hear you over the humans.”

“Oh, good! No worries, it’s fine” He said, letting out a relieved sigh.

 

I thought I’d never have to hear another voice than his ever again.

 


 

I found enjoyment in killing sailors. Technically, I wasn’t the one killing them, so to put it more accurately, I found watching the sailors killing themselves fun. Those sailors were only a few of the billions of voices that threatened to pester me, and their voices were a little harder to tune out than most, so I resolved this issue by drowning them out.

 

“Tsukki, would it kill you to be less hard on them?” Yamaguchi asked me, his annoyance evident from the tone in his voice.

“Yes,” I replied in a deadpan voice.

“They have lives!” he exasperatedly exclaimed.

“And so do the bugs that they have so much satisfaction crushing,” I said, still without a trace of concern in my voice. 

 

He sighed in defeat and laughed. It was soft and gentle, and the happiness that came with every breath he caught to continue laughing was the kind of happiness I’d loathe witnessing someone other than Yamaguchi experience. His laugh was one of the only sounds among the infinite ones I’ve heard in my meaningless existence that made me feel something other than disgust, hatred, or indifference.

 

“Fine,” he started. I didn’t realize he’d caught his breath already. “Just pick a spot and kill as many sailors as you want there. Humans aren’t stupid enough to continue going there when they realize that people die there,” he laughed again.

 

He was joking, but I was on my way to do it. That was actually a pretty great idea. I mean, I didn’t agree about humans not being stupid. One must never underestimate human stupidity.

 

“W-wait, don’t actually—“

“Too late. Presenting: The Bermuda Triangle.” I was pretty satisfied with myself. 

“Tsukki...!”

“This is your fault,” I said smugly.

 


 

I wonder why humans always talked. Where does that energy come from? Why do they think things? Is it so difficult to simply sit in a room and not speak thoughts out loud? Is communication truly necessary in their lives? This is what ran through my mind every single day when I couldn’t hear Yamaguchi’s voice. I have thought many thoughts, but only, at most , 1% of those thoughts have come out. How do humans manage to go over that 1%? Why do they decide that more than 1% of their thoughts were worth saying out loud? What makes them think that? Even after I finally learned how to tune their voices out and could once more hear only Yamaguchi’s voice and the occasional drowning sailor, this is still what I thought and that hasn’t changed. So when I learned that Yamaguchi actively chooses not to tune their voices out.

 

“Why? They’re so annoying. How do you deal with that? Why do you choose to deal with that?” I said as I heard one giant ship after another become shipwrecks... music to my ears. They were planning on colonizing wherever they’d land, so it’s for the better.

 

“They play connect the dots with my freckles, Tsukki,” he said in the most genuine voice I’ve heard him speak in. It sounded like his heart was light and like his smile made him more radiant than he’s ever been. “And they make stories out of the shapes they make, and tell generations upon generations about those stories. I love hearing those stories. Only humans can come up with that sort of thing. And you know, Tsukki, they make stories about you too! You should try listening in from time to time.”

 

I was speechless. I’ve hated humans for so long. I’ve hated them since they evolved to speak. I’ve hated them with every fibre of my being, but I failed to remember the one thing that made my hatred falter for even a moment. And that one redeeming quality was all Yamaguchi saw, was all it took for him to say that it was worth it to listen to their utter nonsense.

 

I raised an eyebrow at him and asked, “Freckles?” because I couldn’t think of anything to respond to what he’d just said.

“Yeah, freckles! Calling them stars gets boring after I’ve been around for so long. It’s time to change it up a bit.”

 

Freckles, huh? I could see it. His arrangement and appearance was so clustered, messy, lacked any rhyme or reason, and it could be likened to the freckles scattered on a human face. It suited him. He made me see two good human qualities in one conversation and I couldn’t see any for many an era. Either I was blind or he could just see too much.

 

His voice was the only one I heard for billions of years. His voice was the only one I thought was worth listening to once that wasn’t the case anymore. Admittedly, it was a little disheartening to find out he didn’t feel the same. I even felt a little bad for holding such a massive grudge against humanity when he held so much affection for them, but I assured myself that they were still terrible beings. Since when did I care about whether or not Yamaguchi agreed with me? Still, hearing him speak like that about them made me feel unexpectedly lighthearted.

 

“Tell me you’ll listen in to one of their stories someday.”

 

I did, once. I just forgot to tell him as soon and I could hear him again because I hated them so much. And I forgot all of them because I don’t want to feel anything but resentment against the repulsive creatures who cost me so many millenia without hearing the stars.

 

“Why should I?”

“Just do it! You can’t kill sailors forever.”

“Again, I’m not the one killing them. Their stupidity and lack of skill in the sea is. If they die, they probably deserved to,” I said as I prepared a considerably giant wave for an especially annoying group of sailors. I felt Yamaguchi give me a death glare, so I put it down. Good for the sailors that Yamaguchi sided with them, though I couldn’t see why.

 

I listened to some of their stories like he told me to. I didn’t have to, nor did I really want to at first. Yamaguchi’s words never held any actual weight. I wasn’t obligated to do what he said; I didn’t have to have a name, nor did I have to entertain his queries, and right now, I don’t have to be listening to the stories these pesky humans tell about him and me. One day, I could choose to never speak again. Just, shut up and stop responding to whatever Yamaguchi has to say. They didn’t hold anything of actual value to me. Yet here I was, doing exactly every one of those. Yet I was angry for millenia because I couldn’t hear his voice. I think Yamaguchi just does that to you.

 

It was hard at first. They were as stupid as ever but at least it was becoming common knowledge that the earth is round. It was hard to look for decent stories because I’d lose the will to do so after hearing stuff like “vaccines are toxic!”

 

The stories they came up with were certainly interesting. Some of them were so stupid that I couldn’t stop listening, some I got pretty invested in, some were mediocre compared to others, but I wasn’t really looking for quality. 

 

I listened to some more stories. Yamaguchi was right, it was pretty fun. I got better and faster at finding stories. It’s easier for me to find them when I’m a full moon since I could see and hear them better and more people were in the mood to tell stories about me at my brightest.

 

Though I found the stories of me that I heard on a new moon had a tendency to be much better than stories I heard with a full moon. Humans who tell stories when they think the moon can’t see are generally more sincere about them, and I enjoyed the sincerity of their storytelling above most other things.

 

Some made me a man, some made me a woman, some made me non-binary, some didn’t give me a gender at all, and some, I feel, was left up to interpretation. Some made me loving, some made me spiteful, and there was a lot with everything in between. Some gave the sun and earth personalities, too, and acquainted them with the stars and I. Different stories went into detail about the different experiences with love that the sun and I’ve gone through. As if I’d ever fall in love with the sun. Never in my entire existence have I looked at that horrendous thing and thought anything good of it. My least favorite of Yamaguchi’s freckles.

 

It was weird, at first, imagining myself in the place of all these different moons that people described in their stories. A lot of them were nothing like me. Eventually, I just began to see these moons and stars as separate beings from Yamaguchi and I. Ironically, doing this made it easier for me to immerse myself in their stories. I rooted for the moon who longed to keep the sun’s warmth in her hands. I celebrated the stars whose fragments landed on the earth like they’d always wished they would. I mourned the sister who raised the moon feeling overshadowed by her sister who raised the sun and the tragic tale of how she had to be banished to the moon for the action she took for her feelings. I admired the raindrops as they danced on the stars. I felt the pain of the stars who wished he could hear and talk to the moon— and to be honest, I was able to see myself in this one. 

 

I never got tired of hearing these stories, whether I hated or loved them. Humans were definitely creative. Maybe Yamaguchi and I have heard the same stories.

 

“Tell me a story that you hated to hear.”

“Huh?”

“I’ve been listening to stories like you told me to. Some of them are incredible but some of them just...” I couldn’t find the words to describe them.

 

Yamaguchi laughed again, and for the first time I joined in. How stupid am I that I’m speechless? It was funny to think about. It was funny that, after hearing hundreds of stories, I’m unable to describe something as simple as a shitty story.

 

“I got it,” Yamaguchi said as soon as he calmed down. I sat back and prepared myself to listen to him.

 

“It involved you and I hating each other.”

 

He’s been doing this much longer than I have. I guess I should’ve expected a more serious, well-thought-out answer than something that was just plain dumb and lacked flavor, like those ones that made me have a foot fetish for literally no reason and doesn’t explain further. And the story he’s talking about, I’ve heard some like those too.

 

“Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like it was badly written or anything. It was creative, well-thought-out, and used the most lovely wording. But that’s what irked me about it. I hated hearing them describe in such intricate detail just why we hated each other so much. It was so fleshed-out and I couldn’t stop listening no matter how awful it made me feel. It even made me worried for a second that maybe you actually did hate me, and I’m like, forever years old, a shit ton of my freckles die all the time, and my hundreds of my favorite storytellers die, too, so it’s hard to make me worry. But they pulled it off. I snapped out of it pretty quick, but... it was a scary couple of moments.”

 

He’s been doing this a lot longer than I have. I assumed he did the same thing as me and saw himself as a separate entity from the stars that the humans were describing. I came to that conclusion after hearing all the stories that he and I exchanged before this one. Still, his voice trembled when he told me about this particular story.

 

“Yamaguchi, I could never hate you.”

“Really?”

“Of course.”

 


 

“Hey, Tsukki?”

“Oh?”

“You know how I’m a whole lot bigger than you?”

“Y-yes...?”

“You ever wonder why I always talk to you? When there are like, billions of billions of other moons?”

“I haven’t before.”


I’ve considered the possibility of him having spoken to other moons before, but I didn’t really put that much thought into it. Giving them names, telling them about how he listens to their respective intelligent beings’ stories or something... I don’t know, what do moons even do? And why was he bringing this up? Was he going to tell me that there are, in fact, other moons he speaks to, in case I had the wrong idea? And what wrong idea? What would I even have an idea about? There is nothing.

 

“No-one else has responded to me.”

“Huh?”

“There are a countless number of moons in the universe who I’ve named and tried to talk to, but they never talk back. Only you have.” 

 

Oh.

 

“Besides, they’re all boring compared to you. They never talk to me. If they revolved around a planet with intelligent beings, no matter how interesting those beings might be, I can never remember what they say or do because their moon doesn’t talk to me. If I can’t talk to their moon, what’s the point? I’ve given up on trying elsewhere. Earth is good enough for me, and that’s all thanks to you.”

 

Why was he saying this? Why do his weightless words make me feel special?

 

And the other moons... did they not realize what they were missing out on? Are they just content sitting and pulling tides, or whatever other moons do, for the billions of years they have to live until the star their planet revolves around over and over in circles just dies? I couldn’t imagine that. I couldn’t imagine not having Yamaguchi with me. Those thousands of years that I couldn’t hear his voice, I can’t just get those back. I know what it’s like without him, and I know I’d probably die. I feel like I would die, and I know I can’t die until the earth does. 

 

“...Thank you, Tsukki.”

“Sh... shut up, Yamaguchi.”

 

He laughed. “Sorry, Tsukki,” he said, definitely not sorry.

 

“Yamaguchi, I could never hate you,” I told him once. “In fact, I think I might love you,” I’d follow if I were having that conversation with him now.