Here Josefin Flyckt presents her short story "The Sun and the Moon," inspired by the art of Alice Pasquini.
The Sun and the Moon
Once upon a time the Sun and the Moon ruled the world together in harmony. Side by side they ruled Earth, the Sun always shining in the south and the Moon glowing in the north. Eventually, these two fell in love, and they loved each other so much that every night, the sun and the moon tore themselves from their place in the sky to dance on the pale dunes of the Sahara Desert, the wild oceans of the Atlantic, the deep jungle of the rainforest and all the other beautiful places Earth had to promise.
So when the night came, when the humans were fast asleep in their homes, and the night was silent as ever. The Sun and the Moon came down to dance once again. They wandered between the human homes, the Sun swirling the Moon in and out of his arms, whispering softly in her ear and making her giggle like a silly schoolgirl. They danced all night and when the morning started to yearn for sunrise, the couple came to a stop.
“I guess it’s time to say goodbye for now”, the Moon said, already missing the sun so much it hurt. The Sun took her hand before she could leave.
“We don’t have to leave. Stay with me, here, forever.” The Sun looked at the Moon with hope in his fiery eyes.
“You know we can’t”, the Moon snickered.
“Yes, we can”, the Sun insisted, “I love you, and I would let it be night all the time just to be able to be with you.”
Touched, the Moon considered the Sun’s offer. Sure, she was tempted, very tempted, to just leave all her responsibilities behind and live with him on Earth forever. But could she really do that?
“At least think about it until we meet again”, the Sun said, folding his arms around her and kissed her one last time before the south wind swept him away.
When the Moon was back once again in her place in the sky, the Polar star, her dearest and oldest friend, appeared before her.
“You have to stop disappearing every night, what if the humans noticed you were missing from the sky? What if Pluto noticed?”
“Luckily I have you to cover for me. You shine almost as bright as me”, the Moon joked playfully. But the star didn’t appear amused. For he, as well, longed for the moon’s heart. If only she could see it, he thought. The Polar star, being the Moons closest friend, of course knew all about her hearts longing after the Sun and their affair, and he was not fond of it. If he could have it his way, he’d tell Pluto all about the moon and the sun. But he could not, for betraying his love and therefor lose her forever would be a far greater pain than to see her in the arms of another. The Polar star sighed deeply, once again facing the fact that he would do anything and everything to see the Moon happy, and if that meant lying to cover for her so she could see her lover every night and then return, so be it. At least he would get to spend the days by her side instead of the Sun.
“So, tell me”, the Moon said, catching one of the winds to carry her further up in the morning sky, “What has my other stars been up to?”
“Shining, of course”, the Polar star said.
The moon rolled her eyes at her friend.
“No, tell me what they have been up to.”
The Moon’s question was of course code for what the other planets had been doing and planning while she was gone. The other planets never really trusted the Moon, but the Polar Star, they trusted for some reason. The Polar star studied the Moon, from her pale skin, that shimmered in blue and grey and even looked a little white in some lightning, to her slim waist and short legs. He looked into her big blue eyes and, without even noticing, took a step closer to her. He leaned forward, so his cheek almost touched her white curls.
“Gossip, of course. Apparently, Saturn got another ring”, he whispered into her ear. The Moon giggled and The Polar star gave her a contented smile.
“Really?” She asked.
“I tell you, Polar star, that planet is too self-absorbed for her own good.”
“Isn’t that what’s fun about it all?”
“No!” The Moon said with a laugh on her lips, though trying –not especially hard - to look guilty about her comment. Talking bad about the other Planets didn’t exactly point toward good will, and right now, the moon needed all the good will she could get if she was going to keep seeing the Sun without attracting attention to her. Because the less attention they gave to her, the more freedom she got. Inhaling a deep breath, the Moon smiled and turned from her friend, for it was time to talk to Pluto, her “loving” mentor.
The morning seemed to rise even faster than usual this day.
“What’s the hurry?” Mars asked his older brother, the Sun.
The Sun stopped to a halt and looked at his brother with pretended confusion.
“Hurry?” The Sun asked.
“You flew by morning as if death was hunting you? Has something happened?”
The Sun stood still, debating whether he should confide in his brother or not.
“I don’t know what you mean”, he finally said with an indifferent expression on his face.
Mars eyed his brother, taking in every inch of his expression, analyzing and turning and twisting it in his mind. Mars was the most intelligent of them all, after Pluto of course.
“You’re lying.” Mars accused.
The indifferent expression on his brother’s face turned into shock for less than a second, but Mars had seen it, and he would not forget it.
“Tell me”, he demanded his older brother.
“There’s nothing to tell”, The Sun tried, but to no use. For he had let his façade crack for a short second, and now his brother would bash on it until it broke for real.
“Even though you’re the oldest you’ve always been a terrible liar, dear brother”, Mars pointed out.
The Sun gave his brother a tired smile as he turned away from him, facing the view of the universe.
“I suppose you’re right”, the Sun finally said, his smile fading.
Mars looked at his brother’s face, which had started to grow worried.
“What is it that’s troubling you, Sun?”
“Have I made a mistake, brother? Committing to this life?”.
“I don’t quite understand what you mean,” Mars said, frowning.
The Sun gave away a heavy sigh, rubbing his eye as if suddenly very tired.
“I mean, is there something out there that I should be doing instead of this? See the universe, search for and adventure… Fall in love?”
The Sun turned to his brother, his little brother, who even if he was young still was so wise.
“I suppose I’ve never really thought about that”, Mars said, starting to understand what was going on. “Have you?”
The Sun was quiet for a long moment, thinking of how to express his feelings.
“Lately I’ve started to wonder”, was his final words before leaving Mars to prepare for the meeting with the other planets.
“I hate her!” The Moon said when she once again stood in front of the Polar Star. As soon as she’d arrived at her chambers again after her meeting with Pluto, she had called for him.
“You and everyone else then.” The Polar Star joked, trying to lighten her mood.
“I’m serious!” She frowned, throwing her hand in an overdramatic gesture. “She’s the worst.”
The Moon open her mouth to continue her rant, but instead closed it and frowned.
“From one thing to another. Can I tell you something? A secret?”
“Of course, you can tell me anything”, he said, looking at her with a curios smile.
“Or well, it’s more that I need your opinion on something, an advice.”
The Polar Star nodded, encouraging her to continue.
“It’s just that you’re my best friend and you know I trust you more than anyone...”
“Get to the point.”
“I’m thinking about running away with the Sun.”
The smile on the Polar Star’s face turned upside down, like the gravitation itself had yanked it off his face.
“Really?” he said, sounding less salty than he felt.
“Do you think it’s a bad idea?” She asked, chewing nervously on her lower lip.
Yes! It’s a terrible idea, the worst I’ve ever heard, he wanted to scream, but if he said that she would get sad and regret telling him, and that was not something he wanted. So instead, the Polar Star gave her a kind smile and tried to talk reason with her.
“What about Earth? If you disappear from the sky everything will be out of balance, chaos even maybe.”
The Moon frowned once again.
“They’ll be fine”, she said eagerly, “I’ve thought about it a little you see. They have you, you’ve shone in my place every night to cover for me, and they haven’t even noticed. Some nights you even shine more brightly than I do. I would give you Earth, and you could rule in my place.” She smiled so brightly that the Polar Star couldn’t do anything else than smile weakly at her. Inside he was burning with anger, towards both the Moon and the Sun. There were a million things he wanted to say, a million thoughts running through his mind - most of them very mean and bitter.
“And what about the Sun?” He asked instead.
“I’m sure Mars could take his place; they are brothers after all.”
How could she be so naive? So stupid? So selfish? So… in love? And with the Sun?
The Polar Star felt, for the first time in the Moons presence, disgusted. How could she want to leave him like this? Did the people and things she would leave behind even cross her mind? Inside, the Polar Stars emotion was a raging storm, but on the outside only confusion painted his pretty face.
“I love him, you know.”
Those words snapped the Polar star awake again. Loved him? The Sun? Was she mad? The one rule that existed among the planets – to not fall in love with another Planet - and she had to brake it. How could she be so stupid?
“You can’t tell anyone about this, Polar Star”, the Moon urged, putting a gentle hand on the Polar Stars arm. He stared at her hand, trying to decide whether to shrug it off or not.
“I promise”, the Polar Star lied.
The Sun had always thought the meetings with the other planets to be extremely boring, and this one was no exception. As soon as it was over the Sun hurried back to his palace to avoid further talking to the other planets. His brother stood by the open windows, on the exact same spot where the Sun had left him. Slowly he walked up to him, knowing that by doing so he would be forced to continue their previous discussion.
“I don’t want you to do it you know”, Mars said with a quiet voice, as if someone might be eavesdropping, “Leave, I mean.”
“I knew you would figure it out”, the Sun said, closing his hands behind his lower back.
“It’s what I always do”, Mars said, almost sadly, “But if it’s what you want and if you have a good reason…”
“Then I see no reason why I should be in your way.” And with that said, Mars gave his brother a squeeze on the shoulder and left.
The Sun rubbed his chin, thinking that he couldn’t stay in this place, even if the Moon chose him or not.
Night was falling as the Polar Star made his way to Pluto. A big golden gate rose in front of him. He put his hands on it, ready to push it open. But he stopped in his track for second, thinking over and over again of what he was about to do. He didn’t want to, but the Moon had left him no other choice. It was all her fault. Why did she have to be this way? And why would he have to go fall in love with her? So with newfound determination, her pushed the doors open and greeted Pluto with a smile as he slowly started to die on the inside.
It was midnight as The Moon and the Sun met once again.
“I’ve missed you so much”, the Moon sighed as soon as she was in the Sun’s arms, feeling safe and sound.
“I’ve missed you too”, the Sun mumbled into her hair, holding her tight.
They broke apart, only to share a kiss and look at each other, as if they hadn’t seen the other in ages. The Moons ran her fingers over the Suns handsome face, memorizing every curve and hill with her fingertips, as if imprinting the feeling of his skin against hers. As if it was the last time they would see each other and every inch, every second, every moment needed to be remembered. The Sun entwined his fingers in her hair, feeling the weight of her white hair strands falling between his fingers, looked her deep in the eyes, as if he tried to see every hue of color in them. They kissed again, harder and more passionately this time, as if putting all the love their hearts could contain into it.
“I can’t believe this”, a familiar voice growled.
The Moon and the Sun broke apart, only to look into the furious face of Pluto, closely followed by the Polar Star, Mars and the other planets.
“Well, it looks like you were right after all”, Pluto said, turning to the Polar Star. The Moon felt weak in her knees. No, please no. She wanted to scream at him, but instead only a hushed gasp came through her mouth.
“Polar Star?” She pleaded, taking a step out of the Suns protective arms. “Please, tell me this wasn’t you.”
But the Polar Star didn’t look up, instead he turned away from her, giving her the cold shoulder. Numb, the Moons stumbled backwards, right into the arms of The Sun.
“The Moon”, Pluto addressed, turning towards the other Planets, looking at each and every one of them, “and the Sun has broken our one and only rule, you know what the punishment is. Go on.”
“How can you be so impassible?” Mars shrieked, his eyes darting between the Sun and Pluto. Pluto turned toward him, looking even more infuriated than before.
“Impassible! I only do what the law, our law, says. The only one to blame is your brother and the Moon. The law is final, one of them will die, no matter what you say.”
Mars looked at Pluto, shooting a last, sad, glance at his brother, before he stepped down again. The words sounded so far away for the Sun. Die? One of them would die because they fell in love? How could anyone think that was a good law? The Moon was shaking in his arms, trying to fight back her tears, be strong even if she’d just been exposed to the worst betrayal of them all. The other planets stood behind, ready to help if things heated up.
“Take them away”, Pluto said, and Jupiter, head of the guards, stepped forward, commanding his subordinates to take the Sun and the Moon away. The Moons grip around the Sun tightened.
“I won’t let them take us”, the Sun assured her. But what was his words against the law? Even if he put up a struggle, they were so many more, and more was about to come.
The guards were closing in when the Moon finally gathered herself again. She broke apart from the Sun and straightened her posture.
“You can’t do this”, she told the other planets. Then she turned toward the Polar Star, turning all her anger and heartbreak at him.
“How could you?” She screamed, anger rising like red fire up her face, “You were my friend, my best friend, and you gave me away! And for what?” She screamed at the top of her lungs, looking like she wanted to hit the Polar Star right between his eyes. The Polar Star still didn’t look up.
“Look at me”, the Moon yelled.
Finally, The Polar Star looked up, angry fire burning in his eyes.
“How can you not get it?” The Polar Star shrieked. “I can’t stand seeing you with him, at least this way I get to see you every day.” He looked so sad but at the same time so angry, as if he was tired of trying and know he’d had enough.
The Moon looked struck for a moment, obviously taken aback by the Polar Stars words. But she quickly brushed it off.
“After this, I never want to see you again”, she said, a final tone sprinkling her words.
The Polar Star looked sad, then angry.
“Very amusing, but it doesn’t change the fact of what you’ve done.” The Moon had completely forgotten about Pluto, and everyone else for that matter. For a moment she’d been so up in her own world that everything else had just disappeared. A guard caught grip of the Moons arms and started to pull her away. Behind her, the Sun was struggling with his own guards.
“Put them in the dungeons until we’ve made our decision.” Pluto said with a final look at the Moon, and walked away.
The Sun had never been in the dungeons before, and judging by how it looked, and how it smelled, he started to understand why. The hard ground became an eye-opener. How could he have been so paralyzed down there, why hadn’t he done anything. He felt like a coward, he should have defended them, at least tried to do something. Instead he’d let the Moon fight it for them. She was sitting right in front of him, in the cell opposite from him, sobbing quietly. Her white hair like a curtain around her. He’d tried to talk to her, but she couldn’t stop cry for long enough to answer. He sat leaned against the bars, looking at the Moon.
“We’ll be okay”, he tried, but that only made the Moon cry even more. He stretched out a hand, trying to reach out for the Moon. The Moon looked up at the sound of him moving, and stretched out her arm to meet him halfway. Their fingers entwined and the Moon immediately felt a little bit better. Their gaze locked and in that moment nothing else needed to be said, because they already knew what the other one wanted to say.
The doors to the dungeon opened, and in came Pluto. Her lips tightened at the sight of their hands. Right after her came two guards, making their way past her and to the Moons cell. They unlocked the door and started to drag the Moons away. The Sun started to bash on his bars, cursing at them and telling Pluto to take him instead. But the Moon didn’t start to cry again, and instead let the guards lead her out without struggle. Her fate had been decided and sealed. But before they could drag her out of the Sun’s life forever she broke free from them, threw herself at the Suns cell and pressed her lips against his one last time. It didn’t last long before the guards pulled them apart again. The Sun locked with terror as they started to drag her out the door.
“Wait”, he shouted once again, he had to stop this. “Take me instead, I beg of you, Pluto. Take me instead.”
But Pluto didn’t listen, for her mind had already been made up.
“I’ll give you morning.”
This, however, made Pluto turn her head and stop the guard. The Moon looked at the Sun with shock.
“No”, she said once it sunk in. “You can’t. Pluto, you can’t.”
Pluto put up a hand to quiet the Moon, and a guard put a hand over the Moons mouth, leaving only her muffled protests to be heard. The Sun now had Pluto’s unshared attention.
“What did you say?”
“Take me instead of the Moon, and I will let you have morning”, The Sun said, defeated. For he would give anything if it meant that the Moon would get to live, even if it meant giving away his own life and kingdom.
“Interesting”, Pluto said, looking between the Sun and the Moon. “You love her so much that you would give away everything for her, even your own life?”
The Sun nodded.
With a thoughtful face, Pluto gestured to the guard to put the Moon back in her cell. The Sun let out a relieved breath. As soon as the guard let go of her, The Moon threw herself at the cell door, pulling and bashing at it.
“No, I won’t allow it! You chose me, Pluto! Don’t take him”, she begged, “Please, Sun, take it back. Let her take me instead!”
“No”, Pluto said, “I’ve changed my mind. And this way, you get your punishment anyways.” Then Pluto had the guts to flash her a smile.
And so once upon a time, the Sun loved the Moon so much that he died to let her breathe.