The Moon Girl – Fiction
by Anita Menon
The Moon Girl
Once upon a time, there lived a little girl in a village. With two pigtails, a big forehead and a freckled nose, she was an ordinary peasant’s daughter. The little girl was a loner. Nobody wanted to be friends with her because she limped. Her one leg was shorter than the other and that made her limp. All the other children in the village made fun of her as she limped around; helping her mother fetch water from the nearby well or gather sticks and twigs for a small bon fire that would keep them warm at night. The little girl with two pig tails, a big forehead and a freckled nose was sad. Why did they make fun of her? She knew she couldn’t run as fast as the other children or cycle like them around the fields. Very early on she understood that life wasn’t fair. Her mother looked at her with forlorn eyes and her father with sympathy. That made her even more desperate to do something extraordinary so that everybody including her own parents would look at her in a different light.
Each night, she would look out her bedroom window before going to bed. She would look at the moon shining down on her freckled nose. She would look at the moon and wish for a miracle. Then she would stifle a yawn and look back at her bed eagerly. Finally, taking one last look at the moon, she would snuggle into her bed and sleep into a dreamless slumber. On certain nights, she would even talk to the moon when it was full, bright and full of splendor. She spoke to the moon like it was her friend; the closest friend she had ever had. Some days, with her eyes brimming with tears, she would complain about how some children were mean to her and on others she would simply relate to the moon her secret desires. She wanted her limp to go away and wanted all the children to be her friends. She wanted her father to be proud of her and her mother to be happy and smiling. She would then sigh and go to bed, shaking her head. She knew nothing was ever going to change. She was fated to live a life that was lesser than what it should have been.
One day, the little girl with two pigtails, a big forehead and a freckled nose worked very hard from morn to nigh. Her little body ached from all the limping around she did to help her father harvest his golden crop and her mother pluck tomatoes and beans from the vegetable patch, right outside their home. All she wanted to do was to jump into her bed and sleep. And sleep she did. She moaned and tossed and turned for her little body ached from all the hard work. In her sleep, she heard the wind howl and the leaves rustle wildly. The window of her room rattled as the wind pushed hard to open it. She could hear the dogs howling away at a distance and the owls hooting on tree tops. She stirred a little, dreaming about the beans and the tomatoes flying away in the wind and hitting glass panes of the windows with a big splash. She giggled a little in her sleep and she gently pushed one dream bubble with squashed tomatoes away. Soon she was surrounded by many dream bubbles, each nudging her, calling for her attention. She nudged all of them away because all she wanted to do was to sleep peacefully before it was morning and she was to work in the fields tying up the bundles of the harvest. Engrossed in her dream –like thoughts, she suddenly realized it had gone silent outside. No leaves rustling, or the wind howling and even the dogs had gone silent. There was a eerie quiet and that made her uncomfortable cause it felt like something was about to happen.
All of a sudden, she heard a light rap on her window. She stirred, not believing her ears. Her heart beat like a sledgehammer in her chest as she turned to look toward the window. Her eyes met with faint silver light that was growing in intensity with each passing second. In an instant, her eyes were blinded as the silver light entered her room and filled every dark corner. She rubbed her eyes, trying to focus and in a few minutes her eyes settled on a form that seemed like a silver figure. She sat up propped against the head of her bed as she saw the form getting more and more solid till it looked like a person extending his hand towards her. She felt her hand involuntarily moving towards the silver hand. The silver hand felt cool to touch and suddenly she found herself standing in front of the silver form that was just as tall as she was. The form looked like a silver boy around her age. The little silver boy smiled at her and she found herself smiling back at him. He then led her out of the window in a sweeping motion and then they were flying in the sky. The sky was inky blue, dotted with sparkly stars like an endless bejeweled crown. She realized the silver boy was the moon!
So the little girl with two pigtails, a big forehead and a freckled nose flew with the silver boy into the dark night. All the while the little girl was aware of the silver boy looking at her. She felt special and her heart fluttered with joy. Finally she found a friend; someone who did not say mean things to her about her limp. Well, how would he know she limped, since they had been flying all this time? She hadn’t walked yet, so there was no way he would know she limped. She was happy flying like this with him in the sky. While she was engrossed in the sights that surrounded her, the silver boy reached for a floating cloud and helped her sit on it. At the very first attempt, she almost fell through it, but then he fluffed it up a bit and helped her sit. She sat on the cloud and he next to her. He looked into her eyes and said,
“Why didn’t you talk to me today? I was waiting for you, like I do all the nights that have gone by.”
The little girl, didn’t know what to say. She only looked into his pearly eyes, not believing that this was happening to her. What will her parents think if they came in the middle of the night to see if she was comfortable and sleeping?”
“I was very tired and I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I didn’t know you actually listened to me all the nights that I spoke to you.”, she said shyly.
He took her face in his hands and looked deeply into her eyes, “Each evening, I tried to come out a little early so that I could wait to hear your stories. Today, you didn’t and I felt lonelier than I had ever felt before. Your stories gave me the hope to come out night after night.”
“You are lonely?” the little girl asked the silver boy. “You are the moon and you have stars to keep you company. How can you be lonely? I am the girl with the limp, who has no friends and I have every reason to feel lonely, not you. “, she said, severely.
“No star is my friend. I have been lonely since I was born which 5 days back. I will keep growing and then I will fade into nothingness. Then I shall be born again. I have been living this lonely existence from a time beyond this time. I had nothing to look forward to and then you came along with your stories. I came out each night, hopeful to hear a new story that you told only me. I felt like you and I needed each other. Except for this night….”
The little girl didn’t know what to say. She was deliriously happy. She never knew that the moon was a person and that he was lonely, just like her. Without a hint of doubt or restrain, she hugged him like she wanted to hug a friend. The moon hugged back and they sat talking to each other till it was time for the little silver boy to go back. He promised to be back for her the following night and the night after that and every night for the rest of her life.
The next night, when he came down to take her into the skies for a ride among the stars, he was a grown up boy. His voice was more husky, his body well-built and his stride more confident. Days passed and the little girl went on from holding the hand of the little silver boy to holding the hand of a frail, old man with wrinkled skin and long flowing silver beard. She felt sad on the 29th day when there would be no moon to talk to. She would cry herself to sleep, looking forward to the following night when she would have a silver baby to cuddle and play with.
When morning came, she always felt rested though she was awake the entire night with silver form that changed with each passing night. She was happy and limped a lot less. Everybody around her noticed her change from a quiet and reserved child to a charming little girl with two pigtails, a large forehead and a freckled nose. She no longer pined to be with the children from the village. Her parents were happy to see the new daughter who was more confident and happy.
Few years passed and the little girl wasn’t little anymore. She didn’t wear two pigtails anymore. She had long, luscious brown locks that she rarely tied, her forehead was covered with a fringe and her freckled nose was the talk of the town. Her limp was long gone, miraculously. She turned into beautiful lass who attracted attention where ever she went. She was so beautiful that many a suitors from the village and far away came to ask her hand. She turned all of them down. She had only her moon boy on her mind. On the 15th night, when the silver boy was giving her the tour of one of the neighbouring planet that the humans hadn’t discovered yet, he grabbed her and pulled her closer to him and kissed her. She felt weak in her knees and butterflies fluttered in her stomach. She never felt this rush before. The silver boy looked into her eyes and said,” Be mine?”
The beautiful girl with brown locks, doe-like eyes and rose bud lips nodded her head. Then they hugged till it was time for the moon boy to go.
Back in her own home, she reveled at the thought of being the moon’s wife, lover and friend for life. But would that mean, she would have to leave her parents and leave this village forever? Would she be able to look down at them each night? Will she ever be able to speak with her parents, if she went away with her beloved? All the questions made her uneasy and unhappy. Soon her limp was back. Her doe-like eyes were clouded with worry. There was not a soul she could speak to and ask for advice. She decided to ask the moon and see what he had to say.
Everybody noticed that the beautiful girl with brown locks, doe-like eyes and rose bud lips had her limp back. They sniggered behind her back and laughed when she left the room. Her parents got worried about why all of a sudden their daughter had started limping again.
That night, when she settled to sleep, she waited for the moon to appear. But dark clouds swarmed the sky like an army preparing to attack. Lightning struck the tree and splinters of the wood pierced through the things around it. The beautiful girl was paralyzed with fear. Did it mean, she won’t see her beloved tonight? She tried to sleep but sleep was far gone. She tossed and turned till the sun was up. Her doe- like eyes had dark circles around it and her limp was even more pronounced. The beautiful girl stepped out to see the devastation that the storm had struck, last night. She looked up at the skies, hopeful about meeting her beloved. That night, the storm clouds gathered again and the moon didn’t come out. The girl was depressed and spent the day cooped inside her bedroom, refusing drink and food. For the first time, she realized that love that she felt for the moon was so strong and pure. Being with her beloved moon gave her happiness she couldn’t even imagine, while being away from him made her hate every living second. She wanted die. But she held on with the only hope of seeing him that night. Several nights passed and the beautiful girl didn’t look beautiful anymore. She was reduced to a shadow of her former self. Her parents showed her to the doctor and he blamed it on the weather. They gave her medicines but she didn’t recover.
Finally one night, after several stormy nights, the skies cleared and the next instant, the glowing moon boy stepped down into her room. He took her in her arms and filled her with energy she found lacking. She blossomed like a lily in spring. Fresh and full of energy she looked at the face she had missed. She couldn’t take her eyes off her love. The moon was frantically repairing everything that seemed amiss her body, mind and soul. Soon when was pieced together, they flew up together in the sky like a pair of geese that had promised to be together forever. She realized that she couldn’t live without her love and she needed to be with him in order to even survive. She made her choice. She said, “Take me away. I promise to be yours as long as I live.”
The moon looked into her eyes with a little skepticism that she had never seen before.
“Are you sure? Do you know you wouldn’t be able to meet your parents or talk to them or even see them?” Are you prepared to sacrifice this worldly life for our love?”
“Yes, I am prepared. I cannot imagine spending a moment without you. I can’t breathe, drink, eat or do anything. I have to be with you. I am ready to leave this life in my village, my parents and everything behind, to be with you.”, she said with conviction.
The moon beamed and took her higher and higher. They were the most beautiful sight the skies had ever seen.
The next day, the beautiful girl, who was healthy and happy prepared for her departure. She hugged her parents tighter and spent time looking at every nook and corner of the house she grew up in. It was so difficult letting all of this go. Her parents were surprised but extremely happy to see her recover overnight. They were thrilled to see her not limping anymore. The beautiful girl with brown locks, doe-like eyes and rose bud lips had a skip in her step. She was going join the love of her life tonight and would be spending the rest of her days loving and being loved by her moon boy. She couldn’t wait. When it was time to go, she found her heart a little heavy. She tried to take a few belongings like a photograph of her parents and her favourite childhood things. But the moon shook his head and led her away, from a life she had lived and known since she was born. It was confusing for her. She was happy, yet so sad. She ran back to take a last look at her sleeping parents. In the morning, when they would wake up and find her gone, they would worry and worry. She imagined them frantically searching for her and feeling disappointed, angry and frustrated.
The moon pulled at her hand gently as the night was passing by and he needed to get her to his home before it was day break. The more he led her away, the tighter her heart felt inside her chest. Her smile faded as she moved farther and farther away from her loving home and village. Soon, she couldn’t see it anymore.
The moon carried her in his strong arms as they entered his home. She was dazzled by the sight of his magnificent home. For a moment she forgot about her parents and her village. She got busy in settling into her new life. The moon loved her and never let any worry touch her.
“You are my moon girl.” he would say fondly. The moon girl would silver locks, pearl –like eyes and crystalline body would smile, shyly.
Time went by, and as the every single day looked like the one that went by, she remembered her parents and her village. She missed her home and the vegetable patch. She longed to see her room and she asked the moon if she could visit them just once and come back. He avoided answering her question and loved her even more so that she would forget. But her childhood memories were growing stronger and stronger. She grew stubborn and appeared annoyed and irritated each time the moon dodged her questions about returning to her village.
Finally, during one such argument, the moon said, “Remember, if you ever go back, there is no way I can get you back here. For your parents, you disappeared many, many years ago. For all you know, they may not even be alive.”
To this the moon girl with silver locks, pearl-like eyes and crystalline body cried with deep anguish. She couldn’t imagine her parents dying and that she wasn’t there to look after them when they needed her the most. She was consumed by guilt. She spent all the time thinking of situations where she could have done something to help her parents. What if her home was destroyed in the storm and her parents were homeless. Where would they be wandering in their old age? She felt miserable and wrought with anxiety. She could not love the moon anymore. Every time she looked at him, she would feel guilty of having left a set of helpless parents back in the village. Here, she was enjoying her life with pleasures unknown to the humans who roamed the earth, while her parents may be struggling to get a square meal. She couldn’t eat, drink or think. Her shine faded and her silver locks fell rapidly. Her beauty was masked with worry and anxiety.
The moon looked at his moon girl. His heart ached and he realized he couldn’t see her in such pain. She was withering away. He loved her truly and with all his heart. Her happiness was his only motive. He never thought he would see a day where she would be unhappy around him. He sunk into depression and for days they never spoke.
During one such tense moment, the moon decided to send her back. He took the withering body of his love into his arms and flew into the skies and showed the moon girl her village. The lamps were lit and it looked marvelous from high up in the sky. She squealed with delight. The sight of her village made her blood pump harder and faster. She was turning into her former human form again. She was again the beautiful girl with brown locks, doe-like eyes and rose bud lips. The moon took her and helped her through the window of her bedroom. She ran to see her parents and heaved a deep sigh of relief to find them healthy and safe. She looked back to see the receding silver light lifting away into the skies. She called for the moon to wait. She said, she’s done looking at her parents. She wanted to be back with him. She shouted at the top of her voice and with tears streaming down her cheeks. But the moon was back to where it belonged.
When she finally realized that she had lost him, she fell on her knees and wept. She heard the faint sound of her moon boy in her ears, telling her,
“I love you very much, my moon girl. But I cannot bear to see you withered and broken. I know how much you love your parents and village and taking you away from them would be tearing off a piece of your heart. I would never want your heart that is not whole. Be happy and be loved.”
Night after night, the moon girl who had brown locks, doe-like eyes and rose bud lips spoke to moon about her day and many stories of her life with him with the hope that he would come back. The moon shined brighter as it absorbed her words through still sky, shedding a tear for having lost his moon girl.