Thursday, October 23, 2014

Why The Moon Was Made

Ok, guys, I haven't posted in so long. I kind of took a break over the summer. I have not been lazy, I've just been spending all my free time working on my novel.
So I finally wrote a short story. It was for school, but it was such a blast. I promised my friend I would post it on here, so here goes...

I am not the type of storyteller that lies or exaggerates. This story you are about to read is as real as the sheet of paper it is on. I should introduce myself before I make it too much further. I am white and shiny. Humans call me a moon. If you are reading this, you are a human. I am pleased to make your acquaintance. Well, to be honest, I am not exactly pleased. You humans are annoying and noisy and...but that is another subject you and I would be better off avoiding. Today, I'm going to tell you a secret. It is about me. It is more of a story, my story. It's the story of why I am who I am. Through the ages, I have picked up pieces of my story here and there from reliable sources until I knew it all. Today, you will know it as well. My tale begins before I existed when there were just stars to light the night sky...

It begins in a destitute city where a lady named Luna Pashtun lived. From a stranger’s first glance, Luna appeared to be just an ordinary woman dressed in simple clothes bearing a bun on the top of her head. To a local in the city, Luna was “The Medicine Woman.” With her herbs and gentle nursing, Luna saved victims of various illnesses day after day. On her errands, she always brought her little daughter, Marcia, along.
“See Marcia,” whispered Luna, lifting up a few herb leaves as she cared for one of her patients. “This will make the cough calm down, but never overdo it. Three leaves will be plenty.” 
Only after they were outside the sick room did Luna stop everything she was doing to look Marcia in the eyes and say in a voice as hard and steady as a beating hammer, “See Marcia, never leave without encouraging your patient. A discouraged patient will never heal.” The tips of Luna's lips curved down. Marcia mimicked her mother's dour frown.
Everything about Luna, Marcia loved. She loved the way Luna walked silently and quickly as if every step she took were on ice. Marcia loved the way Luna’s voice could be hard or gentle but always stayed calm as though it was a rippling brook. There was a song in Luna’s tone. Marcia loved that too. Yet, most of all she loved the way her mother cared about people. People were important to Luna. 
The sun was slipping behind the rooftops sending splashes of color across the sky. The waterfall of light spilled over the roof of each house.  Marcia knew what that meant. Sunset. Time to go home.
Before they turned back homeward, they moved on through the golden dust of the street all the way to the Town Square. Somedays, the Town Square was full of news and people. On other days the only people around were bystanders here and there waiting for something exciting to happen. That day, the Square was so packed that Luna took Marcia's wrist and held her close so Marcia would not get trampled.
Three uniformed men on horseback rode through the crowd their horses clomping against the ground. They shouted over the angry buzz of voices, “Here, here! Order from the king! Enemies seen in the distance!  From now on the city gate will stay shut. No man will leave the city.”
Marcia watched the townsman in front of her shaking his fists and shouting words she did not understand.
“Is everything all right?” Marcia whispered into Luna’s ear.
Luna’s feet fell quickly against the ground. When she walked fast, Marcia knew there was trouble.
Not until they were far away from the crowd did Luna answer, “Yes, as long as I'm with you everything is all right.”
There was normally a song in Luna's tone, a song Marcia knew by heart, but now Luna’s words were as dry as the ground after a week without rain. 
Instead of talking, Marcia followed Mother's dusty footsteps in silence until they reached home.
Luna and Marcia lived with Uncle Marcus and Aunt Bianca in their untidy house on the edge of town. It had been that way for as long as Marcia could remember. Her father was lost at sea. People said he was dead, but Marcia preferred to believe he would come back someday. 
Aunt Bianca met them at the back door. Fear replaced any other feelings in the aunt's face.
“Marcus is already sharpening his sword. He says he won't be unprepared,” Aunt Bianca wailed, falling over Luna with tears.
Marcia watched her mother for any sign of fear, but Luna wore a mask of courage now. Luna wiped Aunt Bianca's tears away one by one. The moment Luna started to make supper leaving Aunt Bianca sniffing on a chair, Marcia saw it again, a darkness in Luna's eyes.
“Where is Marcus now?” asked Luna briskly, while she stirred a pot of beans over the fire.
“Oh, you know, disappearing again!” Aunt Bianca explained in a tone uncomfortably high.
Luna’s eyebrow shot up as fast as a shooting star, “Bianca, you shouldn't let him disappear so often. It is not normal.”
“Well, what am I supposed to do? Tie him to the house. I mean Luna, he is not my dog, but my husband,” giggled Aunt Bianca, but her giggle sounded nervous. “Anyway, I trust him.”
No matter how Luna tried to hide it, Marcia knew her mother did not trust Uncle Marcus. Whenever Marcia saw the distrust seep out of her mother, Marcia would feel sick at heart. No matter what people said, she wanted to believe in Uncle Marcus like Aunt Bianca did. As far back as Marcia could remember, Uncle Marcus had been a kind uncle. Whenever she saw him he would fold her into a ginormous hug or he would wink across he room at her. He always stopped to listen to her, no matter how quiet she was. There was something else. When she was around Uncle Marcus, she felt like she mattered. She was important.
Even after dinner and after Luna finally got Bianca to fall asleep and stop worrying, the worry tugged at Luna’s face.
“I'm still awake,” whispered Marcia, breaking the silence of their attic room as the first crack of thunder breaks the silence of an April night.
“Oh, I thought you fell asleep a long time ago,” Luna whispered back, slowly.
“No,” Marcia answered. “I'm scared, but not because of the enemies.”
“Then why?” demanded Luna, her voice as blank as a pitch-black darkness.  
“Because of you. When you’re scared, I am,” Marcia faltered.
In the little bed they shared she suddenly felt Luna edge closer until they were arm in arm, warmly snuggling together.
“Marcia? Do you trust me?” Luna asked abruptly. 
“Yes, Mother, I trust you,” answered Marcia with confidence. “You know that I do.”
“Then, remember, I will take care of you. Nothing will happen to you. I promise,” Luna promised.
Marcia had never heard her mother speak so strongly. In the warmth of the covers with her mother’s arms holding her tightly, Marcia could believe anything.
The next day went on as normal. It was even easier to believe that everything would be all right. Then, the day came when Luna went to her herb jars and found them empty. Time to go gather more herbs. This had never been a problem before, but it was a problem now. Herbs grew plentiful in the wild, but the wild lay behind the closed city gates.
Luna fell into her chair, every muscle tense, her fingers thrumming against the table. Each sound, no matter how quiet, shook Luna.
Aunt Bianca came into the kitchen weeping as though the world were coming to an end. “Luna, the enemy is closing in on us,” her words resembling malfunctioned wheezes.
Luna stared.
“This is the end for us all!” wailed Aunt Bianca, in between sobs. “The end, Luna.”
Luna stared.
“They are going to lay siege on the city.” Aunt Bianca added, and she tore out of the kitchen calling Uncle Marcus' name.
Luna had still not said a word. She gazed at Marcia now, as if she were breaking from a nightmare.
“Why are you trembling, Marcia?” snapped Luna, her voice stinging. 
“I, I...” Marcia fumbled for words.
“I told you not to be scared, remember? I'm going to take care of you,” stated Luna.
Marcia wanted to believe her mother, but she could not erase from her memory the shadow she had caught in her mother’s eyes a moment ago. That look said more. That look said there was little hope, that danger crept closer and closer and Luna could not prevent it. There were no herbs.
In the middle of the night, Marcia woke up. Something was wrong. Luna’s spot on the bed was empty. A coldness frosted Marcia's heart. With no Luna, the room was silent as though the very air seemingly held its breathe. Tears of emotion, probably fear, blurred Marcia's eyes like smoke fogs glass. Darkness smothered her. She could not even see her own fingers as they trembled. Unlike most girls who scream when they are scared, Marcia waited in spellbound silence, her body tense and her heart drumming in a quick rhythmic tempo against her chest. She waited for what felt like centuries, until her eyes stung, and sleep, finally, came.
When Marcia woke up, Luna’s lavender scent filled her nostrils. Luna was leaning over her.
“Breakfast is ready, pumpkin!” Luna said, the happiness playing its own melody in her tone.
Marcia’s body ached with weariness, but she fought it away and hugged Luna tightly to make sure it was no dream, that her mother was safe in their own bedroom again.
“You are back!” cried Marcia, her words muffled against Luna’s waist.
Surprise swept over Luna, curling her smile into a frown. All she said was, "Don't tell your aunt or uncle."
  Even after that, Marcia still caught joy in her mother's face and tone. Marcia soon found out why. When they went to the cupboard after breakfast, the jars were full of herbs again. Marcia could not believe her eyes. It was like a miracle, but she did not ask questions. The triumph in Luna’s eyes was good enough for her.
That night, Marcia pretended to be asleep, but she was waiting. When Luna got out of bed as silent as a spider, crawling from one side of the room to the next, Marcia bounced up too.
"Don't leave me!" she begged. "Don't leave me again, Mother. When I'm all alone, there is no one to protect me in the darkness."
Marcia dreaded Luna’s answer, but all the dread in the world could not keep it from coming.
"Marcia, what kind of girl cowers in the darkness? Darkness is just a misconception. Everything is there, you just can't see it," Luna told Marcia, her voice as sharp as the edge of the chopping knife.
"I can be alone and brave when there is light, but not when there is just darkness. Take me with you, Mother," pleaded Marcia, shuffling across the room to her mother. "When there is darkness I need you."
“Shhh, before you wake the entire house!” Luna shrilled in a panicky whisper. Her fingernails clutched Marcia's shoulder. Marcia waited, knowing Luna was trying to make up her mind. At last, Luna decided, “You will come with me, but you must do everything I do and watch and remember. Maybe, someday, I won’t be here.”
They crept downstairs. Marcia copied Luna’s movement, every muscle working soundlessly. Luna put on her sandals. Marcia slipped hers on as well. She noticed that Uncle Marcus' sandals were not beside theirs like they usually were. Catching Luna's shoulders sag, Marcia knew Luna had seen it, too.
Then, they crept outside, and that was beginning of all that would come. That was the beginning of a new life for Marcia. At first she was scared. She was scared as they walked through the town like they were walking through a graveyard of houses, dead in the darkness. If they heard a noise, Luna always changed directions holding Marcia's hand like she was shielding her from peril. 
That was just the safest danger of the night. The real danger began when they reached the city wall. Luna led Marcia to a hole. They slid down. Darkness.
“Touch my skirt. Don't let go,” Luna had instructed Marcia the first night. After that Marcia never forgot.
The darkness in their bedroom was dawn next to this. The darkness in the tunnel was the lack of all light. It engulfed Marcia in one bite, sucking away any spark of brightness left inside her. The scrap of Luna's dress was her one star. She held onto it as if she were holding onto the last bit of life she had ever known.
Night after night, Marcia followed Luna under the wall through the tunnel, but no matter how many times she went, she never got used to that darkness. It was so dark she had to use her sense of feeling to know whether her own eyelids were opened or closed.
Luna's dress was the only thing that felt real; the only thing that reminded Marcia that this was not just a dream. She could feel the woven stitches, the familiar softness of worn material between her fingers.
Once the tunnel ended, Luna and Marcia did not waste time for relief.  They emerged into the deepest danger of all. The glinting stars and whispering trees were wicked deceivers. Behind the forest hid the enemy, an enemy so strong their own city trembled at its footsteps.
Marcia followed Luna's quick, wordless movements. The more experience Marcia had the better she got at mimicking Mother, copying her movements like a puppet. Mother knew the right spots to find each herb, but every time a tree branch twitched she was alert and would snatch Marcia and hold her tightly.
When all the herbs were collected, mother and daughter returned together back through the tunnel. Marcia never relaxed until they were safe together in bed. Then, slowly, her heart would begin to beat softer and softer, her eyes would close and she would at last fall asleep.
She lived two lives, one normal and simple and the other exciting and scary. She began to adjust to it as a family adjusts to having a new baby, but one night everything was different.
It started out as usual. Uncle Marcus' shoes were gone. Scary sounds in the town. Darkness, and then there was something new. In the darkness, Luna stopped. Marcia fell into her back.
“I heard footsteps!” Luna hissed into Marcia's ear.
Luna began to walk hastily. Marcia had to cling so tight to the corner of Luna's dress that her hands grew sweaty. The darkness felt like it stretched on for miles. Whenever Luna stopped to listen, Marcia jabbed into her back, and then froze and tried to listen, too. Marcia felt darkness swallow up any sound like it swallowed up every shred of light, but Luna seemed to hear something. Her steps quickened.
Once the darkness shattered behind stars in the sky, Marcia relaxed but Luna never calmed.
“Marcia, I don't like this. Go behind there,” Luna motioned toward a tall stone. “Wait for me to finish gathering herbs.”
Marcia stared into her mother's eyes. The eyes glimmered under the starlight as glass sparkles in sunshine.
“Why do you do this? Why do you risk so much for herbs?” Marcia asked suddenly, watching Luna with wonder.
“For my people,” was Luna's simple response before she turned away and vanished into the forest. 
Luna had always stayed with Marcia before, but now she left. Marcia never wanted to let her mother leave, but she did this night. This night was different from the nights before. 
Marcia gathered all her courage and snuck behind the stone, waiting. Every second felt like an hour. She tried to count stars, but her numbers jumbled to a mess. 
Then she heard it. Mother's scream. It tore through the forest piercing no one as hard as it pierced Marcia. This was not a regular woman's scream, this was the scream of a woman who always stayed strong and never screamed. Fear drenched Marcia filling up her mind until she could barely think. She forgot everything but her mother. She flew to her feet. She started to run, run toward the sound. This wasn't supposed to happen, she thought somewhere along the way. With Luna everything was supposed to be safe.
A hand landed on her shoulder forcing her to a halt. Marcia twisted around and gaped up into two wide eyes. In the starlight he looked different, but Marcia would recognize her uncle anywhere.
“What are you doing here?” Uncle Marcus demanded, more shocked than she had ever seen him.
“Collecting herbs,” Marcia whispered.
“Go!” Uncle Marcus hissed, so different from the uncle she knew. He acted like a stranger. “Go! Run! Go home and never come here again!”
Kicking up her feet, Marcia ran as she had never ran before. In the forest alone, she felt as vulnerable as defenseless prey. Before she lost sight of her uncle, she glanced back. Far away, she saw him talking to another shadow-outlined figure. Then a third. Marcia did not wait. She turned away and fled.
Suddenly, her mind was not working right. She was trying to remember everything Luna had taught her. Before she went home she had to find the herbs. If Luna cared so much about their fellow townspeople, so did Marcia. She found herb by herb, speed increasing the farther she got. It felt strange running through the forest without Luna. Even though she knew every step by memory, the ground felt different without Luna's footprints to lead her. Marcia did not let herself think. Thinking meant hurting. Hurting meant tears. All she knew was that Luna was not there and she had to save the city instead.
Once Marcia got all the herbs and reached the edge of the tunnel, her courage almost broke. She could be brave alone in every spot except in darkness. “Darkness is just a misconception,” she repeated her mother’s words. With that, she crawled in.  Blackness closed in all around her. She did not look back to see the last flicker of light disappear. Everything felt like a horrible dream. There was no Luna to watch over her now. She had to brave the darkness alone. There was no sleeve to cling to, no footstep to follow. No one but her. 
Marcia felt tears slip down her cheeks. Mother's scream replayed in her mind, echoing in the silence. Why be brave any longer? What was the point now? There was no Mother to praise her and notice her and be brave for her when she could not be. At once, it hit Marcia: the reason she hated darkness, the reason it made her feel scared, empty. It was because darkness felt like death. 
At least the tears felt like something next to the darkness. Even pain was better than the blankness ahead. Pain meant life, life that might be dying but not dead. Silently, Marcia wept. She let the tears soak down her face. Without Mother, she was all alone.
“Mother, you promised you’d take care of me!” she said somewhere in between a whisper and a thought. “I guess you couldn’t keep that promise.” here is the best part of the story, I come in. This is why I'm created. I'm here to save the day. Of course, I cannot save everything, but I can save Marcia. You see, it was here, at this point of the story that I became the moon. Here, I started circling the earth. Here, I brightened the darkness of night. Where the stars could not shine, I shone brighter... I could go on but I guess I better get back to the story...

Marcia stepped forward. She felt something, saw something. Next to the darkness there was something. It was not bright enough to be called light, not yet, but it was something more than darkness. Still weeping, Marcia followed it. It led her home, like her mother had so many nights before. 
When Marcia got out of the tunnel, she saw it closer. Now, it was a light, a glow.
To Marcia, the sudden glowing ball in the sky was strange, but it comforted her. It reminded her of Luna's promise. Marcia tiptoed to her Aunt's and Uncle's house. She put the herbs away in the jars. Then, she crept up to her bed crying herself to sleep. The crying soothed her, if her heart could be soothed.
Early in the morning Uncle Marcus came into the attic and sat down on the end of her bed.
“I know what you're going to tell me,” whispered Marcia, grudgingly. “You're going to tell me everything is all right, but it’s not. Uncle Marcus I have thought a lot about last night. You are a spy for the enemy, aren't you? You’re helping them, aren’t you?”
Uncle Marcus gawked at her. He did not answer. She did not expect him to.
“Mother is not alive anymore, is she?” Marcia continued, her voicing almost breaking. She shot her uncle a brave look. “They killed her, didn't they, the enemy, I mean?”
Uncle Marcus nodded his head like a sorry child. “Marcia,” he opened his arms to her, but she did not hug him. She fought tears, determined not to let him see the hurt. “Marcia, you don't need to think about all that. We will leave before the attack. They've already promised a nice new home for us. Your aunt and I will take care of you. Just forget all this.”
“But Uncle Marcus, I could not just leave and forget. I'll always remember. I'll remember Mother's bravery. I'll remember your part in ending her,” Marcia retorted, huskily.
“I tried my best to save her, but...” Uncle Marcus stammered.
“You were too scared,” Marcia concluded for him. “Uncle Marcus, you can leave, but I'm staying. If there's an attack, they'll need me around to help nurse the wounded.”
“Listen, Marcia, I couldn't live knowing something happened to you that I could have prevented. I don't want what happened to your mother to happen to my favorite niece,” continued Uncle Marcus, his voice strained with worry.
“And I couldn't live with letting people die when I could have saved them,” Marcia persisted. “Attack or not, I'll be ready.”
The next day when the sun rose into the sky, the house was empty. Neighbors never knew what happened to Marcus, Bianca, and Luna, but they did not ask questions when little Marcia came to their rescue after the attack.
“Mother kept her promise,” Some neighbors remembered Marcia saying as she nursed them, but they never knew what that meant. 

What happened to Marcia and the city and the Uncle and Aunt I never found out. That is all I know of why I became me. I like telling the story...  It makes me feel sort of special. I mean, you humans are always the ones boasting, but I am important too. Just a reminder. Now, don't tell anyone this. Wouldn't want to pass on the wrong idea! You humans have your own reasons of why I came to be. Something about science. I wouldn't want to crush your stories. Let’s keep the truth just between you and me, all right?