Issue No. 19, Winter 2016

Wind Across the Moon and Sun
Skye Rozario

He stood on a crumbling, terra plateau halfway up the Mount of Points. The day shone with a sullen brilliance as the noon sun bore down on him, on the mountain. He had journeyed many days from his homeland, from her castle, to perform this task. Because she had asked him, because this is what she desired more than all else. He would do anything for her, for his love of her.

The man continued his ascent after yet another rest, trudging slowly on the steep, rocky cliffside, reddened clay tumbling down into cracked, dusty soil. All around, giant rocks protruded from the mountain’s base, trailing up and up to the highest point. The pain in his arms as he heaved himself up over a wall of rock; the burns on his skin, aching and hot like the mountain’s face… And just as the mountain’s face, he carried on, warmed by the sun. He’d timed the day so that he’d reach the topmost point as the sun was setting low. The peaks stretched up to the heavens, breaking the calm skyline—a graceless dash of rock rising from the earth, scattering light on the far off villages in the hills below.

Climbing up the rocky trail even further, his sight wavering in the waves of heat, undulating like peering across a fire, he could discern the massive rock-point rising straight up to the sky: his destination. He had just about arrived to the steppe-top, the summit of the Mount of Points. He now stood where so many stood before him to witness the glory of the intersection of sky and earth, the only place where the sun touched down. But none had carried the purpose he did as he scaled the climbing cliffside.

He would steal the sun. For her.

He gazed out as the sky gradually lost its golden hue and brilliant blue steadily consumed the lighter color. The land beneath him faded and shifted in shadow: grand forests of waving trees, plumes of thin, grey smoke rising in the distance, and dots of villages huddled in valleys and plains. Only he stood here, above, lording over it all in tattered and worn cotton breeches and a faded tan tunic. On his back rested a large knapsack containing all he owned. His face with streaks of earthen red and brown resembled the jagged mount surrounding him. He stared at the descending sun.

She desired it. And he swore to procure it. He’d convinced himself long ago that only she wanted it, not him. Ages past, at the beginning of his quest, he decided that this was for love, that he was selfless and devoted. This was all for her—him for her—and he took joy in believing he’d no choice in the matter, that this had to come to be. He did not need the sun. But neither did she.

The light of day edged closer each moment and the man prepared himself, hands stretching gingerly, growing hotter. Cerulean blue engulfed the land below as the sun met the peak. He reached around, grasping, latching onto the smooth, airy middle of the glowing sphere. He strained, sweating madly, his grip slipping and tightening as the sun condensed smaller and smaller. The air around began to lose some of its luster; a sorrowful cool emanated from the Mount of Points.

At last the sun tore from the zenith, and with a burst of bright blaze, the sky fell indigo and stars shone against the black. The ancient fire had ceased, leaving the hearth of the sky a smoldering sooty backdrop and the heat that scorched from such a vast distance abruptly cleaved, like a sudden slip into frigid waters under a frozen pond.

Now the sun rested on the man’s back, still ice-hot and luminescent. Its size diminished with its departure from the heavens, but it still remained large enough to cause the man to arch his back while curling his arms around the side. His hands pulsed lightly as they slowly heated.

In the distance he could catch confused, desperate cries from the villages, their pleas plucked by the wind and pulled toward him and the sun. He shuffled around, taking one last glance at the world spread out before him. Then he took a heavy step and began the descent.

He knew they would discover him and that they’d be furious. He knew what he had done, and so did they. But he had a duty to his love and he would deliver. So he edged down the rocky path, tears flowing. Indeed, he knew his crime.

As he continued the trek, he no longer knew how long he’d been plodding on, for no day existed to balance the night and all remained encased in a vigil of shadow. What difference now was there in the sky? Did it ever lighten, because how was he to judge the passage of time without the contrast of the sun he bore in his arms and the moon held tightly by the stars. Time passed, but it passed skewed and strained.

Through pathless forests and eerie black-scraped mountains, he traveled night after night, always in the dark, but his darkened form remained lit by the burden he shouldered. He kept to the shadows in the hiding woods which shielded him from the people’s frantic wonderings. All the while though, he could hear them calling out.

“Who took the sun from us?”

“Will the night never cease?”

“It’s much colder now, so much colder…”

The man kept striding toward the castle he left so many days ago, where his love awaited his undeniable return. For he swore to her, he swore.

The sun seemed to lessen as he journeyed, shrinking softly as if evaporating warm, light mist into the air, sorrow perhaps. And when her aged castle rose into view with towering spires and stained glass windows, the sun fit smoothly into his two cupped hands.

A dark wooden door extended above him, curving into a point at the top as he remembered, but the wood seemed chipped, worn. Balancing the sun in one charred hand, he lifted the metal knocker and rapped loudly, sending a swarm of shadowed birds scattering off the roof. As he waited, he rested against the door, breathing heavily, clutching the sun close to his chest for warmth.

The door ached as it yielded to allow him entrance. A strange man bowed before him, face masked and hands thin and shaking. As he entered, the servant seemed to shift and dissipate, misting as he shuffled, gesturing to him what it could be that he desired.

“Take me to the Princess, the Queen. I have her sun.”

The servant shook his foggy head, fading.

“You may enter her chambers. There she awaits,” the servant replied, drifting off into some dark corner of the entryway, which lay covered in airy dust.

Shafts of moonlight splayed across the ruddy marble floor and the tattered carpets leading to rooms and passages. The man followed behind the servant, who seemed perhaps a spirit, long dead. The man questioned how long his journey had taken him.

The man shivered and held the sun closer. In front of him were the elegant doors to the Princess’s chambers, carved designs spiraled and twisted around the outside edge, the detail faded and softened, bits broken.

Like one last, dying breath, the servant drew open the door, and after the man entered, somehow the servant no longer held a presence, as if his only remaining duty was to direct him to the princess.

Inside, the Princess rested on a large, jeweled chair toward the right of the room. Stained glass windows lay shattered around her floor, leaving no colored filter for the moonlight streaming in. He fought the urge to drop her sun to the cold marble.

The Princess wore a matted gown, now decorated dazzlingly with cobwebs and dust and broken glass where before there had been lace and gems. Her head tilted slightly, leaning against her left arm, which was propped on the armrest of her throne, as if she tired of waiting. The man pressed the sun to his chest, tears pouring, blurring the grotesque scene of his beloved turned to bones. Her hollow gaze bore into him as he cried, sending more birds flying out of the high ceiling through holes in the roof.

For her he deprived the world of its light. For her he spent his time traveling away. How long had he quested? He ached to know, listening to the sizzle and hiss of smoke as his tears evaporated upon hitting the sun. He still had to give it to her. He procured it for her, hadn’t her? He’d given all for the sun. This glowing sun.

The man rose with the sun and gingerly hobbled over to where she sat, still waiting. Lifting the sphere, he held it out and pressed it to her chest, where it slid and sputtered then rested among her ribs, protected as some odd replacement for her dead heart. Then he moved back and wilted to the icy marble. Exhausted, he remained in and out of consciousness as the night drew on and on. For the sun would never rise again.

As he drifted between sleep and wakefulness, the Night flowed into the decrepit chamber through the cracked window, surrounding the Princess’s throne and peering through smoky mist at the radiant but faded sun in the Princess. The man shook awake and started as if seeing for the first time, the bones his hands had become. Part of him was always like her.

Night circled and swirled, a cloud of indigo and sparks of stars, at once filling up the room and taking up little space. The man gazed at Night who gazed back through eyes of stars.

“This is mine now. I will have this now.”

The man focused on the dark cloud as it made to pluck the sun from the Princess’s bones, but began to cry again as Night lifted her whole body along with the glowing orb instead.

“Don’t take her, please! I love her. I love the sun!” he called, dashing up to the window.

The Night hovered outside the window, part of the mist extending back up to the heavens with the rest of the sky. Night stared deeply at the man, then lifted and spread out against the sky, departing with the man’s love, a glowing beacon in the air.

The man watched as the Night held her up and brought her into the swirling shroud of the dark sky. He watched a light stream, pouring forth from the sky, at first formless and then rounded. Night placed the milky white sphere next to the shining moon.

“Second Moon, small moon,” whispered the moon, “We shall light the villages, Second Moon; We shall calm their fears, small moon.”

Second Moon glowed next to the larger moon and the land was at once brighter. The man peered up from the forsaken castle at his love, Second Moon, away from him. And he, with skeleton hands, remained alive, alone, the one who stole the sun.

He fell to the floor, unable to comfort himself or wipe his face with aching bone hands. He curled around the floor, pleading:

“Oh Night, oh kind Night. Let me be near her, my love. Leave me not. I am alone… Oh, Night, I am alone!”

And the Night heard his plea; the stars blinked sparkling droplets into the dusk. The moon spoke sweetly to Second Moon, a sister, a child.

Night bent down, a thick blue mist, and circled ‘round the man’s form, calming him. The Night kept silent, but the man felt comfort nonetheless. Night held him, gently pulling him into the mist, muffling his sobs into silence.

“This one shall not be alone. This is mine now. I will have this now.”

The wind blew a gust through the window as the Night lifted into the sky to rejoin Night’s own self. The man’s body no longer held a presence within the starlit sky. Instead, he glided and flew atop the trees, through the grasses and villages as the Night Wind. He soared up and around Second Moon, calling to her, speaking to her with First Moon. He, the Night Wind.

And the people stared and spoke about the new moon, asking,

“What does this mean?”

“Will the sun ever return?”

To which the Night answered the people, and the first moon answered, and the Night Wind answered:

“We shall protect you. The Night shall keep you and you shall keep the Night. Second Moon, little moon, will shine for you and Night Wind will bring the rain and the warmth with him. The Night shall protect you.”

And the people returned to their houses and lit their fires. They offered thanks to the Night and wept for the sun and prayed to the heavens above them. The day would not return and they knew this. As did the moons and the wind. But they would be the ones to watch the earth now.

“This is mine now,” said the Night, “This sun is mine now.”

The Night Wind blew high above, circling Second Moon and trailing back down to the towns and twisting the smoke into the stars. He no longer was alone.

And the earth could go on such as this. Safe and shadowed, with a comforting glow of light. The Night Wind continued his journey, blustering about the cerulean. The second moon continued to glow. Night stretched a gentle smile across the sky, for Night would guard them. Night would be the day as well. Night would be both.

And the Mount of Points loomed in the distance, a reminder of the sun, of what was lost. But the second moon would remain a reminder of what was given, what was bequeathed unto the earth by the Night: a shining promise, circled endlessly by the loving wind of night.

Skye Rozario is currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa. She is double majoring in English and Humanities with a minor in Creative Writing.