moonlight a short story

Moonlight: A Short Story

The forest goes still. Only a few more moments until midnight – I recognize the signs. 

Not a sound to be heard. A pale moon high in the sky, full and plump, right above my head. Even the breeze pauses. And then it all happens at once. 

Light dawns out of nowhere, almost liquid, like water pouring through the creases of our world. Out of that light appear three women. Their skin glows so bright I have to look away. Their hair, golden and silky, floats along their backs, carried by a whisper of a wind. They take each other’s hands, forming a circle, and then they start moving. They smile their dreamy smiles, dancing to music I cannot hear. But nature responds. 

The knee-high grass sways, the creek gurgles, the leaves shake, all in tune with their swaying hips and skipping feet. Sounds like giggles and whispers of words I do not understand reach me, yet their lips don’t move. They just smile. And dance. 

I want to grab their hands and dance with them. Forget the world for a while. Forget the pile of dishes waiting for me back at the tavern. 

I suppose there’s a unique kind of bliss in washing the dishes as well. You can slip out of the world, unnoticed, completely your own and no one else’s. 

The two men beneath the tree are sleeping soundly. They won’t wake until the first lights of dawn peek their lovely heads through the branches. The veelas will be long gone by then. Gone just as quickly as they appeared, a gust of light carrying them away to their own world, where no harm could come to them. At least I hope. 

I don’t know what happens once they disappear. Spirit Realm is just as much a mystery to me as it is to anyone, though I grew up in it. All I remember of it – and I carry it with me dearly – is my mother’s face. So alike the faces of those veelas, that it might as well be her. But it’s not. 

I cannot protect her, just like I couldn’t protect her then. But what I can do, is stop these men from hurting others like her. From stripping that bliss off their faces and tarnishing their peace with their dirty bodies. 

They come here, once every month when a full moon blooms and veelas are set to appear. They wait in the bushes and high branches, and when the veelas appear, they descend on them like hawks preying on mice, taking and taking until that light rips the veelas away. 

Unless a little bit of valerian accidentally slips into their drinks. Well, a lot of valerian. 

That reminds me – I glue myself to the tree and slowly slide off my branch. The landing is never pretty. I land and my ankle twists, my hunched back tipping my balance always to the ground, and I fall straight on the men. They stir, snores getting louder. 

When none of them move, I rise. Slowly, painfully. I guess I put a little too much valerian into their drinks. Well, no harm done. At least they’re not dead. Probably. 

I turn around to see if the veelas are still there. They are – beautiful, blissful like I haven’t just made more noise than a banshee. They pay me no heed. They’re so used to my presence that it doesn’t alarm or amuse them. I’m no threat. 

There’s still more work to be done. I rip the men’s flasks from their clutching hands and shake them a bit. Almost empty. But the stench of valerian is clear to any – sober – man or woman. So, I empty the flasks behind the bushes and head for the creek. I rinse them thoroughly, cool water dripping on my fingers. It’s almost summer, but the creeks will be this cold for another month or so, the snow still melting in the mountains. 

Once their flasks are rinsed, I pull my own flask from my satchel. There’s just enough mead to split between them, and when I sniff the flasks again, I can sense no valerian. When they’re back within an arm’s reach of men, I sit at the other side of the tree. 

The veelas still dance, and the dawn is still far. I watch them, as I always watch them, and wish that, come dawn, I could disappear into that light with them. 

Author’s Note

Moonlight is the first scene of a novel I planned a few years ago and never quite finished. I’ve always loved writing fantasy, but I’ve been more into contemporary lately, so this has been on the backburner. Still, I like this scene on its own. For other short stories, check out this page, and for my favorite fantasy stories, take a look at this. Thank you for reading!

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