Why the Moon?
Marga went to the shore with her lover Tal the night they first met and fell in love, that first night their nomadic tribe had settled into their new land, next to the vast clear ocean. "Is it not beautiful?" Marga's lover earnestly asked.
"It is," was her abstract reply. Tal did not know if her thoughts were of the warm, eventful night, or the crystal ocean, or the bright, full silvery moon, for her eyes were filled with all three. He knew, though, that her thoughts were not of him nor the passion that he and she had just shared. He took a gentle hold of her shoulders and turned her to face him, but her eyes were filled only with the night, the ocean, and the moon; they were empty of him. Tal whispered her name twice, but she did not respond. In long frustrated silence he stood next to her until the moon became obscured by clouds and Marga said softly to him "We can go now, my love".
As the pair turned to walk back to their new homes he saw that her eyes were becoming a little less full of the night. As they walked, he noticed the night leave her eyes. Finally, when he kissed her as they neared her family's home, Tal saw the last glistening sparkle of the moon leave her eyes. Now, when it was too late, when she was expected to rejoin her family for the night, now that he could do nothing but be trapped in thought for the rest of the night, Tal saw that he was again in her eyes.
The next night at the ocean's edge and the night that followed and many more after those, the two made love and afterward Marga's eyes became filled again, but never with the vision of her lover. During their days they ate together, walked together, worked together, and talked together, but at night at the ocean, after the passion of their lovemaking had passed, Marga and her lover were apart.
The couple was wed in a joyous ceremony during the tribe's fourth week as settlers on the shore. The pair's days were filled with the busy bliss of newlyweds, but at night they continued to hide inner thoughts while standing along the cool sand of the shore, bathed in the cold light of the moon.
One day soon after their wedding, as they ate together, Tal asked "Marga, why do you love the night more than me?"
Marga looked into her full bowl but saw nothing as she replied quietly. "I don't."
"Then why do you love the ocean more than me?"
"I don't, my dear."
"Why the moon?"
A pause, then her quiet reply. "I don't know."
For the rest of the day they ate in silence, walked in silence, and worked in silence.
That night they made their way to the water's edge in heavy silence. They did not make love this night, but just the same, Marga's eyes filled with the vision of a love she could not share with her husband. As he saw the gleam in her eyes, Tal's heart grew cold and ached. Why the moon? Tal thought, turning away from Marga. Why? Full, half, quarter, a sliver, missing even, and still she loves it the same! What if I was fat and round? What if I was half or less of a man? Would she love me then? What if was gone? The last words stuck jagged in his mind, as if not wanting to be thought, fighting to stay hidden and silent.
Tal looked up at the moon, so full and large and brightly silver it blinded him as his eyes welled with hot tears. In desperate hunger Tal knew what he had to do to gain his wife's total love, for to be loved only part of the time was not enough for him, to be loved by only part of Marga's heart was unthinkable. He needed Marga's love at night, during the day--all the time for all time. He needed her heart to belong to him and only him.
After wordlessly walking back to the village the couple went to the hut they now shared and lay down, Marga's eyes slowly growing empty of the moon, Tal's heart clenching, feeling ready to burst.
When Marga was finally contentedly asleep, Tal gently brushed her silken hair away from her dream-filled face and kissed her cheek. He then silently made his way back to the shore. There, along its winding beach, he saw many of the other young men of the village, all silently staring up at the full and impervious moon. These men had all come of age in the same year as Tal; he knew them well. Moving beside a friend he whispered "Your Trissa loves it, too?" and received a slow nod.
Tears fell from the faces of the young men and made the sandy shore wet. Soon the tears joined the ocean's water and as one the men knew it was time, as if they each heard the same far-off call and as one they knew what had to be done. They came to stand closer together, took each other's hands firmly, closed their eyes, and walked into the wide moonbeam which was reflected before them. The men kept walking until even the tallest of them was submerged by the oceans's clear water, leaving dancing silver shimmers upon the water's dark face.
The young wives of the village woke the next morning to find their husbands lying next to them, wet and smiling. Questions were never asked as meals were shared, walks were shared, work was shared, and love was shared.
That night each of the young women went one-by-one with their men to the crystal oceans. Each woman and man saw their partner's face in the full moon and loved it and each other all the more for now, through the glory and sorrow of the moon's cycles, both man and woman heard the call of the bright orb as one.
Michael Griffith wrote to tell us that this is his first fiction sale. He says the last fiction he had published was about fifteen years ago in his college anthology. He recently had a few non-fiction sales for a professional newsletter called Teaching for Success. Michael also serves as a "Partner Editor" for their website.
Michael has a wife and daughter and says that thoughts of his wife were the insipration for "Why the Moon?"
[Ed. note: "Why the Moon?" has been read live on a radio program called "Fractured Fiction."]
Published by permission of the author.