the short story project


Stef Smulders

Full Moon

I like to be special. Stand out in the crowd. Or no, stay as far away of the crowd as possible. Can’t stand the herd mentality that is so common among people. But it’s difficult nowadays. Almost impossible actually. What can you do to really impress your fellow humans? Climb the Mount Everest? Don’t make me laugh! You need to buy a ticket now, make a reservation. There’s a queue at the mountain, the base camp a whole city full of the mad asses that want to go up. The road to the top is likely to be tarmacked in the near future, such that even the elderly and physically challenged may obtain their claim to fame. It seems that the steep hills are littered with corpses of those who didn’t make it in the early days. Not even dying on the slopes of the Mount Everest is a unique achievement anymore.

Whenever you’re at a party, people, men mostly, try to impress you with the very special experiences they had during their travels to the most exotic places. Bystanders look at them, bored, and start exclaiming ’been there’, ’done that’ even before the speaker has finished his story. We all try to overbid the other with our own  unique adventures. But we do not succeed. Not anymore.

To be honest, I would like to stun everybody with a story none of them is able to challenge or mock. But it isn’t feasible. One has to accept being just one of a billion of humans living their boring lives exactly like everybody else.

Still, I have had this thought. This idea. That might do it. Impossible to imagine that somebody has thought of it before. Just listen. How about getting a perfect never-seen-before smooth tan without the risk of developing skin cancer? Impossible, right? Well, maybe not quite. Slow tanning might be the solution. Slow travel, slow cooking, slow everything is the thing of now, lifestyle magazines are filled with articles about it. But slow tanning? Never heard of! Yet. Achieving a perfectly smooth olive-coloured rejuvenated skin that stuns all your friends and irritates all your foes and leaves them wondering how on earth you did it. Let them guess, the bastards.

So, to try it out, to test my truly unique treatment, I meticulously prepared everything. Towels, portable deckchair and windscreen, sunglasses… Well, not exactly sunglasses really, haha. Cell phone, earplugs, bottle of water. That should be it. Now I only need to wait for the moon to become full. Can hardly wait, checking the calendar every day, counting. Friday night, 15th, getting closer and closer.


When I arrive at the beach, dark except for the healthy glow of the full moon, I am stunned. Can’t utter a word for a full minute. Then I start screaming. Alarmed, all the moon worshippers turn their head towards me, perfectly synchronised as if in a ballet. They lift their dark glasses and look at me, annoyed. They are identical, the all look exactly the same.

They all look like me.


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