Age: 13, Grade: 9
School Name: Horace Mann School, Bronx, NY
Educator: Adam Casdin
Category: Flash Fiction
She was born bathed in moonlight, her face raised to the heavens. Her features were carved in marble. Her violet eyes shimmered in the light. Downy, midnight tangles matted her small head.
For millennia, the Moon had needed a guardian. And this child’s felicitous light would make him glow as luminously as he had in the days of yore. The Moon watched her birth from above and knew that she would be his.
The first night she snuck out into the neighboring forest, the Moon watched with bated breath. All of his light shone upon the clearing she chose. The child did not disappoint. Every turn, every spin, every leap was the quintessence of elegance. With every move she made, the Moon watched her, weaving his light around her body like an invisible partner. She never noticed.
The child was born to a father who was soon killed by the tides. The Moon took his place, loving her as he was unable to. But though he held her in the night, the Moon disappeared by day and was forced to let the child go, to give her up to her flesh-and-blood mother, who fussed and kissed and hugged in ways the Moon could only dream of. As he watched, he imagined dancing with her by day, stealing her away from her mother’s embrace to put in his own. Every passing day fed his desire until it was too much to bear.
He stole her on the lunar eclipse. Her mother took the girl deep into the forest, into the sacred clearing, and pointed up into the sky. Dark lenses covered their eyes, but the Moon saw her awe at his act. As he disappeared from the sky, he flew down to earth and swept her up, snatching her out of her mother’s arms. When he appeared in the sky again, she was with him, and her mother was alone on earth.
Now, finally, the Moon was content. The child was in his arms, asleep, her cheeks rosy with joy, a small smile curved across her lips. He rose again, into the air, carrying the child with him. When she awakened, she would be with him forever, and the Moon would have a guardian at last.
When the Sun rose the next morning and saw the mother sleeping alone, her arms curled around empty air, he knew what the Moon had done. For years afterwards, the Moon shone dimmer than ever before, evidence of the Sun’s reluctance to lend light to the thief.
Every night afterwards, the child’s mother would return to the clearing and extend her arms upward, pleading to the heavens to return her child to her. She would rise on tip-toe and gaze with pained eyes at the silhouette of her daughter.
And the girl would lean as far as she dared over the edge of the Moon, reaching out her arms and crying for Mama.