For the latest assignment of my degree in English Literature and Creative Writing with The Open University, I was asked to write a fictional story of no more than 2200. For it I chose to use an idea I have had for a while of a story set in a world without night. This piece is a fable or legend, a fairy tale if you like, told within that fantasy world as to what happened to the night.
I hope you enjoy the piece and please leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Long ago there was a baby boy. None knew his name, from where he came, or who his mother was. The Boy did not laugh, nor cry, eat nor sleep. He simply lay in his crib, and stared up at the sky.
Night after night the Moon stared back, wishing with all her heart to make him smile just once, but she knew she could not, for she was the Moon, and her place was in the sky.
The Boy grew quickly and was soon old enough to walk. The day he took his first steps he set off on a journey. He walked the length and breadth of the world, never tiring, never stopping. Night after night the Moon would watch him, and wonder for what it was he searched.
One day the Boy came to the foot of the tallest mountain in all the world. The Boy had not yet searched the mountain, in fact it was the only place in all the world he had not yet ventured, and so, he began to climb. All day he climbed, in the red-hot light of the Sun, never tiring, never stopping, his skin burnt and blistered, but still he did not stop climbing.
As the Sun disappeared beneath the horizon, the Moon drew her curtain of clean black night across the sky. She looked down upon the world and was surprised to find the Boy sitting atop the tallest mountain. Quickly she hid back behind her curtain, peeking out so that only the smallest slither of her was visible.
She longed to go down and speak to the Boy. She had so many questions. Why did he not smile? Why had he stopped searching? But she was too shy. She was the Moon. The Sun had his clouds, his rain and his rainbows for company. She had always been alone, a single silver light in a clean sheet of black. They stayed there the whole night, the Boy sitting, looking up at the sky, the Moon peeking out from behind her curtain of night.
Eventually the first light of morning crept over the horizon and the Moon, knowing that her time was up, bid the Boy a silent goodbye. She wished she had the courage to speak to him, but she knew she could not. She was the Moon and her place was in the sky.
The next night the Moon drew her clean black curtain, but before taking her place, she peeked out from behind, trying to catch sight of the Boy. She found him where she had left him the night before. Silently sitting atop the mountain, never smiling, never sleeping.
Night after night they watched one another, and every night the Moon would peek a little further out from behind her curtain. She quickly became accustomed to having him high in her night sky, and so the time came that she decided she would hide from him no more. The next night she drew her curtain of clean black across the sky and held herself full and bright for all to see.
She looked down at him, sitting silent and unsmiling and wished she could make him happy. Her wishes danced in her heart and her light shone bright, casting its silvery glow out across the world.
The Boy smiled then.
‘There you are my Lady Moon. I’ve been waiting for you.’
The Moon was shocked. She had never heard his voice before. It was bright and young and full of life, but her true surprise came at seeing him smile. It was a smile to rival the Sun.
‘You look beautiful tonight,’ he called. ‘Would you like me to tell you a story?’
Now he had found his words, he did not seem to want to stop talking. The Moon listened as the Boy told her of his life, his travels and his search to find his smile until too soon, morning crept over the horizon. Finished with his story the Boy stood and turned to leave. The Moon was sad to see him go and the Boy seemed to sense this. He thanked her for helping him find his smile and promised to return again.
True to his word, night after night the Boy would climb the mountain and spend time with her, telling her the story of his day and how he missed her when she was gone. Year after year this continued until eventually the Boy became a Man. The Moon often wondered when he would grow tired of coming to see her, but that time never came.
So one night the Moon decided to come down from her place in the sky and sit beside him, leaving the rest of the world in clean black darkness. At first the Man was shocked, but then he smiled, and they laughed and joked as she told him stories of her life in the sky, and of how she missed him when she was gone. They spoke until the first light of day spilled over the horizon and it came time for the Moon to go. The Man pleaded with her to stay, but she told him that she was the Moon and that her place was in the sky. The Man was sad, but she smiled, and promised to sit with him again.
Day after day the Man would climb the mountain and night after night the Moon would come to visit him. They would talk and laugh and love, but every morning the Moon would leave and the Man would grow lonely again.
One night the Man asked the Moon not to return to the sky, but to stay with him on Earth so that they could be together during the light of day as well. The Moon smiled and explained once again that she could not, for she was the Moon and her place was in the sky. Without her there to draw the curtain of night the day would never end. It was then that she knew she could never return to see him again. She gave him a single kiss and climbed back into her sky, leaving the Man alone atop the mountain once again.
The next night he waited for her but she did not come down to meet him. Instead, once again she hid behind her curtain, peeking out so that only a slither of her was visible. Confused, he called out to her, ‘Why do you hide my Lady Moon?’ but she did not answer. The next night he returned and asked the same, but still she did not answer. Night after night he called to her and night after night she hid, until one night the Moon drew her curtain of clean black and found that he had gone.
Surprise turned to panic as she searched the world for him, desperately wishing to see him again. But he was nowhere to be found. Many nights passed, and every night she came out a little further from behind her curtain until one night, just as she was giving up hope, the Man returned to the mountain. Upon seeing him again, the Moon flew down from her sky and wrapped her arms around him.
‘I am sorry I hid from you’ she cried, ‘I will come to you every night. I promise. Just please, don’t leave me alone in the sky again.’ For a while the Man did not answer. The Moon watched and waited and seeing him again after so long, sensed that somehow he had changed.
‘Stay with me my Lady Moon.’ The Man asked again.
‘You know I cannot,’ she replied. ‘I am the Moon and my place is in the sky. Without me, who will draw the curtain of night and give the world rest from the harsh light of the sun?’
She watched him, praying that he would understand, but he gave no hint of feeling.
‘I have a gift for you,’ he said as he pulled an old worn rag from the pocket of his coat. The Moon did not know how to react; she had never received a gift before. ‘I have searched long and hard for a gift worthy of your beauty. A gift that would return you to me.’
‘I am returned to you already my dear, and I promise to return every night. You do not need to give me a gift for you have already given me your heart.’
Again the Man said nothing. Carefully, he unwrapped the old worn cloth to reveal a beautiful pair of silver bangles.
The Moon gasped at their beauty. Slowly she held up her hand and allowed the Man to slip a bangle onto her wrist. It was a perfect fit. She began to thank him, but the words were lost. The Man was smiling again. Not the same sweet smile that had stolen her heart, but one of victory. The smile of a man that had taken what he desired. The man placed the second bangle onto his own wrist and the pair burst into flames.
The Moon cried out in pain. The heavens shook and the land quaked.
The ring of fire on her wrist grew, and the light of the flames clawed at the night. From the bangle, a single strand of flame reached outwards, slowly weaving its way towards the bangle on the Man’s wrist. A single strand of sunlight that now chained the two together.
‘Now we will always be together my sweet Lady Moon’ the Man said softly.
‘What have you done?’ The Moon cried. The light of the bangles grew ever brighter, slowly drowning her Moonlight and pushing back the night.
‘After you abandoned me I spent some time with the Sun. We laughed and joked and spoke of many things but we spoke of you the most, of how I longed to be with you, but how I knew I never could. One day the Sun came to me with a deal. He would give me a way to keep you with me, as long as in return, he was allowed to take the night. He created two silver bangles from the lining of his clouds and bound them with his light. He told me that once you wear the bangle, you could never return to the sky. We can spend our eternity together on Earth and the Sun will light the night in your place. Of course I agreed, for your light is my smile. Now we can be together my Lady Moon.’
The light from the bangles had grown so fierce that even the darkest shadows were fading from the world, and the light of the Sun, rising far too early for morning, beat against the horizon. In a panic the Moon clutched at the bangle and desperately tried to tear it from her wrist. But she could not. She was trapped. Never again would she return to the sky.
As the last threads of her curtain were burnt from the sky the Moon’s own light vanished from the world.
‘No. We cannot.’ The Moon replied. Her soft, sweet voice sang of sadness. ‘I was the Moon and my place was in the sky. You have taken that away. In your greed you have stolen my light, and so, now I am no longer the Moon that you loved. Now I am a woman.’
He looked at her then, and knew that she was right. He had loved the Moon for her light, without it he could not smile.
‘Take back your bangle and set me free.’ She pleaded, ‘Let me draw my curtain once again and share my light with the world.’ But the Man did not speak, he did not smile, he did not laugh nor cry. He simply shook his head. She knew his heart then; if he could not have her light for himself then none would be allowed to have it.
She watched as without a word, without a smile nor tear, the Man turned and descended the mountain. The Moon watched him go. She watched as his form grew smaller and smaller until finally he passed from her sight. The Moon sat atop the mountain beneath the Sun’s harsh light, so close to the sky that was her home, and waited.
She waited for the day a man would climb the mountain.
She waited for the day she would once again be free.
But above all, she waited for the day that once again, a boy could fall in love the Moon.