Thursday, 22 May 2014

The Sun and the Moon

The following little story came to me while driving home one night on a dark road lit up in silver by a half-moon. 

I suddenly had a fanciful little image of a car smilingly gobbling up a crescent-shaped sliver of moon-flake which helped its headlights shine brighter. 

Such an image wouldn't normally find a home outside my head, but
thanks to my recently-discovered #FridayPhrases on Twitter, I had a 140-character platform to work with. 

The FridayPhrases folk have a Twitter microfiction party every Friday. They tweet inventive, beautiful, creepy and awe-inspiring pieces and everything in between with the hashtag #FP. It's a wonderful thing to look forward to on Fridays. 

My tweet around this image was: 
Glowing moon flakes drifted to earth. On a dark road, a car eagerly ate a sliver. Its dim headlights shone bright again & it raced home. 

Some lovely members of the FridayPhrases community shared their immediate positive feedback by favouriting and retweeting it. And the lovely Amy Good (@amicgood) went so far as to call it "brilliant" (Thanks again Amy for the generous feedback!)

It all helped keep the image alive in my head and I eventually tapped out the following story. 

~~~~~

The Sun and the Moon.


The Earth was in darkness. She had been shrouded for what felt like a very long time.

The Sun no longer appeared cleanly in the sky, and day and night had been reduced to tired changes between dark grey and clear black.

The Tree Man was in the middle of a large forest, his loyal truck, Arigo, beside him. The Tree Man and Arigo were both worried. 

They knew they were both worried, but they did not speak of it. There was nothing left to say. 

The Tree Man had left his village far behind in search of glow branches - light trapped in trees - any forms of light to help them in the Sun's absence.

They had searched hard and found enough branches with enough of a faint glow to help The Tree Man's village last a few more precious days. 

But they still needed to make their long way back to the village. Arigo, loyal truck that she was, was feeling very faint. Arigo too, needed light. She was doing her best, on so very little light. And the Tree Man loved her for it.

He rested a hand on Arigo's door in silence and they both looked up into the night-sky, frosty with stars. 

The stars at least were shining brightly; enough light to see by, but too cold, too distant to help. 

The Tree Man inhaled, and patted Arigo's door again before climbing into the cabin.  Arigo started up quietly, faintly. They rolled forward slowly, their precious cargo glowing lightly, a heavy burden in the back.

*****

The Sun was sulking.

He had been sulking for a good while.  

He had reached over and closed his curtains - the ones made of black holes - around him, so that he couldn't see out into his own solar system any more.

And behind his curtains of black holes, the Sun was sitting glumly, arms crossed, pulling listlessly at the sunbeams on his arms, balling them up uselessly, chewing on them occasionally, and sometimes stopping to examine his toes.

The Sun was ignoring all the questions calls from all his planets.

Mercury, who was closest, had given up on trying to talk to the Sun, when it was clear he was determined to sulk. She had promptly hung out her 'Do Not Disturb' sign and had gone into a loud, snoring sleep. 

Venus, meanwhile, had been saying peevishly, 'do you mind, Sunny-Boy, I'm starting to catch a chill here! I've been working on some interesting experiments in my core, which unfortunately rely on you to behave yourself.' But Venus was usually testy and prone to whining, and no-one paid him any attention.

Earth had been patient at first - she was known after all for her calm disposition; that was why she had been chosen to host the experiment with the earthlings (much to Venus' irritation). Earth hadn't thought the Sun would keep his sulk up for quite this long.

But she was concerned about her earthlings now. They needed the Sun's light. All their ingenious little ways of staying alive all revolved around the Sun and his light.

So far, all her appeals to the Sun had fallen on deaf ears.

Mars wasn't worried, and she said so smugly. 'I can just pop off a few eruptions here and there to keep things interesting for myself. Besides, a bit ice might do good things for my complexion. I've been wondering how I would look with a blue - no, a green complexion - anyway...' Mars was rather self-absorbed (obviously) and demonstrated over and over, why she would have been an amusing, but short-lived, choice for the life-form experiment.

Jupiter and Saturn meanwhile, had been eyeing each other off. They had both decided they were the next best planet  to replace the Sun, but neither one wanting to be the first to admit it openly. Even though, all the other planets (even other Galaxies knew!!) knew of their inflated ambitions. 

So Jupiter's focus on brightening his red spot, and Saturn's little dances with her rings were being done oh-so-casually; and so transparently. All the other planets were studiously ignoring them.

Uranus was preoccupied. So were Neptune and Pluto. They were in a competition to see who could aggravate the most space rocks and meteorites into crashing into them. The one with the biggest and best craters won. They hadn't even really noticed the Sun's sulk.

Earth sighed. Her little earthlings had been doing quite well for themselves too; they had finally figured out how to use light and sunlight forms of energy. Their little dwellings and transportations now all used light as energy. 

But now, with the Sun's prolonged sulk, there was only haphazard, splotchy bits of light and heat and warmth for her earthlings to work with.  

She wasn't sure what to do. 

'Hello Earth.' It was a soft, musical voice.

Earth smiled with deep relief. 'Hello Moon! I'm glad you're back.'

Every so often, the Earth's Moon Guardian - with her glowing luminescence - would retreat into an internal rejuvenation - meditating and connecting to some greater power, that the other planets (including Earth) didn't seem to have access to.

The Moon took in the situation in a single sharp glance. 'How long has he been like this?'

Earth shrugged. 'Since just after your Retreat.'

The Moon shook her head. 'So. Since just after that brash young Sun from that the Dim Galaxy had that asteroid come by with that silly message. And our Sun-Boy has been silly enough to take it to heart.'

The Moon shut her eyes, stretched her arms, and sought her point of stillness deep within herself. She looked completely at ease, oblivous to the Universe around her and yet intimately attuned to every scrap of being, unbeing and bone that made up its existence - their existence. 

Her pale-yellow silvery glow strengthened, until she was luminous and bright. Tiny, yet unmissable in the solar system. Drawing strength from the vast infiniteness of the Universe, she became brighter and brighter.

The other planets noticed her and fell silent; several, in spite of themselves.

First things first.

The Moon gently shed her exterior skin. It came off her in flakes; in large sheets; in slivers; in tiny scraps and in fist-sized morsels... all glowing with the same bright luminscence of the Moon herself.

The pieces danced and floated carefully around Earth, landing in the exact quantities, exactly where they were needed most.

Imagine a little piece of ice in the palm of your hand, no thicker than a piece of paper, transparent and hard, but still delicate, yielding to the slightest pressure from your fingertips. Now, infuse this tiny sheet of ice with the luminescent colour of the Moon - and you will know what it feels like to hold a piece of glowing Moon in your hands. Radiant yet calm, and bathed in sweet whispers of unearthly light.

The Moon forgot no-one.

In the middle of the forest, a sliver of crescent moonlight floated down before a disbelieving Arigo, and hovered before her mouth.

A few seconds before, Arigo had come to a shaking pause again, having barely made it over the gentlest of inclines in the road. The Tree Man had had to help, pushing from behind. 

Arigo had been ashamed of needing the Tree Man's help, but she had too little light left. Little wisps that wanted to evaporate. They still had so far to go.

And now, here was some blessed light, from the very skies themselves. Arigo wondered wildly if it was a mirage, if this was how life ended. 

But then she heard the Tree Man gasp in amazement. Arigo's heart lifted. It was real.

Arigo opened her jaws slowly and gulped the crescent piece of moonflake slowly. 

There was life in the light. It flooded her - her body, into her engine, her lights; strength and energy returned and ran through the lines of her being. She arched herself and the light ran and rippled through her very being. 

Arigo smiled. She could feel herself again. 

Arigo knew her load of glow branches had received a gift of moonlight too.

The Tree Man was leaning against Arigo's cabin, half-sobbing, half-laughing. There was too much relief. A blanket of light and life when they were so cold and nearly gone. 

Arigo's headlights snapped on. The forest track that would lead them home was a miraculously short drive now. 

Arigo gave a little rev of joy and the Tree Man laughed and clambered into the cabin. Arigo began to gobble up the kilometres home. The Tree Man smiled and sat back and brushed frequently at his eyes with the cuff of his coat.

The Moon heard the tiny cries of joy of the earthlings, felt the buildings and cars reach out hungrily for her glowing gifts of light. She felt the Earth's own sweet relief wash outwards into the solar system towards her.

The Moon then spoke to the Sun. To this time and space in the Universe, no-one know what was said. She spoke to him within his black hole curtains. But one by one, he removed the black holes and began to shine again. A bit sheepishly perhaps. A bit reluctantly.

The Sun was shining again.

7 comments:

Amy Good said...

This is one of my favorite stories to come out of #FP. It has such a fantastic sense of wonder and really feels like an old-school myth updated for the digital age! I've read it several times since you published it, and I enjoy it each time I read it!

ReeD with a Bee said...

Thank you soo much for your kind words, Amy! Your immediate positive tweet in response to my original #FP story was so encouraging and buoying, I began to percolate the idea further that same day!! :-)

Amy Good said...

That's so wonderful, I'm glad I could offer even the smallest nudge!! :)

Kiera Bruce said...

I've only just seen this, but it's just beautiful, and would be such a wonderful children's story! I can see the pictures, because you painted them in my head with your gorgeous words. Just WOW.

ReeD with a Bee said...

Thank you so much Kiera!!! I'm absolutely thrilled that you enjoyed it! - I'm totally over the moon!!! :-)

Michelle Kelly said...

The cheeky characterisation of the other planets is marvellous, but most of all I love the wise, beneficent moon!

ReeD with a Bee said...

Thank you heaps Michelle!!! You know, you've just made me think that there's scope to feature the other planets in stories of their own... :-)
*goes off to stuff another idea into the already-bulging Good Ideas Box*

Also, if you're interested, check out this fabulous drawing of Arigo and the Tree Man that a Twitter friend, Kizzywiggle (@RamblingBandit) drew after reading the story:
http://amonthinaminute.blogspot.com.au/2014/11/gratitude-17-most-wonderful-drawing.html