In a time when the world was still in its infancy, humankind could only see curtains of ebony darkness in its sleep.
One glittering, indigo evening, the moon - who had always aspired to be radiant and majestic, just like the sun - decided to make a rather bold declaration to her companions, the stars.
"Be sure to tell your brother, the great sun, that I, too, am capable of brightness and magic, dear friends."
But the stars, who all shared the sun's effulgence and pride in each of their own galaxies far, far away, only laughed at the pale, crescent moon. Sirius and Vega, the two most luminous stars in the Earth's night sky, were especially amused.
"And what is this magic you speak of?" Asked Sirius, "Certainly you're not bright enough to pull off anything of the sort."
"Why, the sun's mirages, of course," said the moon, "just like the ones he presents to the human eye on hot summer days. Something men and women believe to be true, if only for a moment - a trick of the mind, so to speak. That is the magic I refer to."
Sirius and Vega both broke out in hysterics.
"You'll never be capable of creating a mirage, dim one," jeered Vega.
"Vega is right," agreed Sirius, "one needs heat and light to work magic like that. I am afraid that both of those fine gifts you lack, dull friend."
The moon's heart broke as the two stars continued to snicker into the dark night sky. However, she remained calm, not to be discouraged.
"Never mind what you think," she said to them firmly, "do as I say and be sure to tell the great sun what I've said. I may not be as radiant as he, it is true, but I shall find it within myself to create the most beautiful mirages of the night. Mark my words, bright friends, you shall see."
For many months, the moon watched from the heavens as the men and women of Earth slept below her, seeing nothing but darkness in their slumber. Though it was true that the stillness and void that accompanied their sleep gifted them rest, it wasn't enough for the wishful, gentle moon. She loved the men and women below her dearly and yearned to provide them with more. Except, how could she do such a thing?
One dark, cloudy evening, when the stars were hidden behind feathers and wisps of late-Autumn haze, the moon decided to speak to a young woman named Selene. The moon had been watching Selene for some time, and she'd noticed that the poor maiden often had difficulty falling and staying asleep. Distraught, Selene quite frequently sat out on the shore during the late hours of the night.
"What troubles you, dear child?" Asked the moon.
Selene peered up from her aimless gaze at the sea. "Who's there?" She asked, startled.
"Never fear, sweet one. It is only I, the moon."
With a pounding heart, Selene looked up at the nearly complete, luminescent disc that hung in the sky. "Oh, I did not know you could speak. Hello."
"I can do many things, dear Selene. Tell me, what keeps you awake? Look around you. The entire world is asleep at the moment. Why are you up?"
Selene sighed. "It is the sun," she said, "I just can't seem to free my mind of him."
The moon felt a jab at the core of her being. That prideful, arrogant star - was he truly so bold as to impose himself on the thoughts of these poor souls as they attempted to rest?
"Tell me more," she said cautiously.
Selene inhaled into the gentle lunar effulgence. She closed her eyes, deep in thought. "He's there in my mind, even after he's set below the horizon. He taunts me with the mishaps and loose ends of the day," she said. Then, suddenly, her eyes burst wide open. "Oh, but please don't tell him how upset it does make me, dear moon! Really, I owe so much to the sun. We all do. After all, he graces us with so much light and warmth. I just..." Selene's voice tapered off into the darkness.
"Go on," said the moon.
"I just wish that his light wouldn't stay on in my mind during the night. I just wish I could sleep." Selene's tears fell gently into the sand beneath her, and the cool night air filled the space between the two of them.
The next night, the moon glowed wide and full in the sky. She often felt her most powerful once her waning and waxing phases had passed - when her light was strong enough to hinder that of the stars. However, on this particular evening, she couldn't help but feel a bit dispirited. The moon watched as Selene, her new friend, wandered out onto the shore again, sleepless. While the young woman sat and stared out into the sea, the moon lamented. What could she possibly do to bring this poor soul some rest?
"You're up again," she said to Selene.
"Yes. The events of the day once again haunt me, dear moon."
The moon remained silent for a moment. As she did, she watched. She watched the deep, indigo sky as the wind swept a flurry of clouds from the east to the west of it. And, she listened. She listened as faint hints of laughter - laughter derived from the taunting of Sirius and Vega - still echoed on the breath of that wind, and in her mind.
It was at this moment that the moon realized that she, too, was haunted by something. And, she had an idea.
"I need to help you escape from all this," said the moon suddenly. She remembered the ambitious promise she'd made to Vega and Sirius - that she'd made to herself. She remembered her desire to gift humankind with mirages.
"With sleep?" Asked Selene. She looked up at the moon, her eyes wide and glowing with hope. "Is this how you'll help me escape?"
"Yes, with sleep, but also with a bit of a...journey." She gazed down enthusiastically at her friend. "Would you like to go on a trip with me, Selene?"
"But where will we go?"
"Don't worry about that, dear child. All you must do is be willing to go. I will take care of the rest."
Selene stepped to the edge of the water, allowing the soft, gentle waves to lap over her bare feet. There, she and the moon aligned in the most perfect, straight line. "I am willing," she whispered, closing her eyes. "Let's go."
Somewhere out in the middle of a turbulent ocean, Selene awoke upon a canoe. Though the waves crashed down on her small, delicate vessel and surged all around her, Selene only felt calmness and peace in her heart. The wind tousled her scarlet red hair to and fro as she sat upright at the bow, breathing in the delicate molecules of salt and moonlight that surrounded her.
"Where are you taking us?" Asked a voice.
Selene looked down. The voice belonged to a small, orange tabby cat that lay by her side. Oddly, Selene was not taken aback by this. Somehow, she felt that she knew him - but then again - she wasn't quite certain.
"Who are you?" She asked.
"I am Calixto," he said.
Selene frowned. "Well, what are you? I mean, I know you're a cat, but..."
"I am a figment," Calixto answered.
"A figment of what?"
"Of something or someone within you. But only your perception of it, of course."
Selene raised her eyebrows, thoughtful.
"Oh, I see." She then looked up at the moon, who was full on the horizon and glowed brightly before her. "Sweet moon, is that you?"
"Yes, my child. It is I."
"Is this the journey you spoke of?"
"It's quite beautiful, really. Is there anything here I should be afraid of?"
"You will be afraid at times, but nothing can hurt you here," meowed Calixto. He stood up from where he lay and crawled into her lap. Selene began to stroke his soft fur, lovingly, just as a large serpent emerged from the waves.
"Oh!" Selene shrieked. Her heart began to pound as the snake-like creature twisted and turned in the waters before them.
"Never fear," purred Calixto, "as I said, he cannot hurt you. He is only there to make you think."
Selene tried to calm the hammering sensation in her chest. "Think about what?"
"You will soon find out, once you awaken," tweedled a sudden, odd voice.
Selene looked up above and beheld the most peculiar, winged creature, carrying the figurine of the moon on its back. "And you are...?" She asked him.
"Why, I am Morius, the Messenger of Mirages. I am here whilst you sleep, and I will be there once you awaken. I will ensure that the smallest hint of your time here stays on your mind throughout the quest of the day."
Selene blinked. "For what purpose?"
"To make you always wonder," Morius whispered.
"Wonder about what?"
But, Morius did not answer her. As his breath faded into the wind, Selene stared back out into the ocean. She felt peaceful once again, accepting that everything around her was just as it was, strange yet perfectly so.
Selene awoke on the shore with the waves lapping gently over her limbs. Though the sun was high in the sky and embraced her with warmth and light, the dear moon was nowhere to be found. Selene stretched her arms into the cool air, inhaled deeply, and realized that for the first time in months, she felt refreshed, rested, and rejuvenated.
In the nights that followed and for the rest of her time, Selene would embark on the beautiful - though often eccentric and bizarre - journeys that the moon laid out for her. Selene and the moon never again spoke directly to one another. However, the essence of their friendship remained alive through the vibrant reveries that now blossomed within Selene's sleep.
In the end, the moon's desire to become majestic, just like the sun, had proven fruitful. She'd managed to create beautiful, vivid night mirages - just like she'd promised Sirius and Vega. What's more, these very mirages allowed all of mankind to sink into a deep, restful slumber, where the mishaps of their day occasionally appeared as strange figments - yes - but no longer kept them awake.
Though the moon never again dared to challenge the sun, she remained secretly victorious as the result of one sly, carefully planned move that she'd made:
Morius, the Messenger of Mirages, ensured that the men and the woman remembered parts of night mirages during the day, just as the sun once caused Selene to think about him in the night. And thus, the moon's mirages have been a topic of conversation among the Earth's people for thousands of years.
Of course, today we know the moon's beautiful - often surreal and thought-provoking - night mirages as "dreams".
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
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