The Sun Children and the Moon Children
In a time when the forests of old were still young– when black ravens were known for their magic, and hearts could still be made of gold– the land of Soluna knew the legend of the Sun and the Moon Children.
The Sun Children knew such great joy and wonder in all things that passed during the day; their eyes sparkled bright as the blue sky, their cheeks rosy like the sun. The Moon Children rejoiced in the dreams and secrets of the night, their hair rich like the dark night with eyes shining like starlight.
And neither of the Children forgot each other, as they met each dawn and dusk to play.
When the sun and moon both shared the sky, the Sun and Moon Children would be eager to jump from falling stars onto the glowing beams of the sun. They’d be content to swing on early moonbeams and slide down rays of dimming sunlight. Ever would the Children laugh and learn, together better than one.
Until the Forgotten Days…
Luna padded wearily through the thick woods ahead of her. She’d lost count of how many steps she’d taken since being cast out from her parents’ den, and her stomach was grumbling.
An owl hooted outrageously at her for crossing through its territory, but she ignored the sound. Her stomach was louder. She could no longer recall the last time she’d last eaten a slice of mooncake or a salted piece of squirrel.
Finally, she caught a glimpse of flickering lights through the trees. The lights outlined a human town in the distance. A ray of distant hope stirred through her.
Luna trudged along as best she could, her claws helping her to scramble up the hills or terrain that became too steep. Those flickering lights grew brighter, until she could see the tall wooden buildings and spiked fences. Human gardens and their neatly fenced paddocks encouraged her through the town’s gates. The townspeople were just beginning to turn to their beds for the night.
But her paws on the cobblestone streets startled the first human she ran into.
“Excuse me,” Luna began, “but could you please spare–”
The baker-woman recoiled.
“Get back, you– you thing!” she shrieked. The woman grabbed the last of her bread and closed her shop in Luna’s face before the wolf girl could respond.
“Please–” Luna tried asking the next person she came across, and the fisherman threw his stinky net at her, followed by his harpoon.
One hour later, Luna found herself stumbling into an alley with her stomach still growling. No human villager had been willing to help her…
She held out her hands– two paws covered with fur and claws– and looked down at her dress, a pretty periwinkle blue with even a bit of lace at the collar. Not that anyone would notice. Not with her two furry legs that helped her to stand on her own two feet, nor with her furry face that tangled with the strands of her rich, dark hair.
A diamond tear fell down her cheek, and Luna jerked back into the alley wall as she heard a group of ladies passing her by.
“Did you hear?”
“One of those girls…”
“A wolf girl?” a lady gasped, happily horrified.
“A lupine, I heard…” another lady gossiped.
Luna ducked her head, fleeing the town.
The next morning, Luna rustled out of her bed of leaves from the forest floor. She shook the dirt from her hair and dress. The scent of fresh dew and the notes of baby songbirds filled the dawn, and her stomach rumbled again. Luna moaned.
If only she could have stayed with her parents a few seasons longer, she thought. But Luna knew it couldn’t be. For in Soluna’s most recent century, a vast famine had swept the land. Many families– though they may have wished otherwise– had found no hope other than to send their children into the woods to fend for themselves. Thus at the age of thirteen or sixteen, many youths were sent away never to be seen again. Those included human, fairy, ogre, merman or mermaid, sprite, and dwarf.
For lupines, the age was only twelve.
Luna’s nose twitched. She’d caught an elusive scent on the wind, and her stomach rumbled even louder. She was alone. Cast out. And she was hungry.
Her nose twitched again.
Remember those humans, she thought. Remember the baker-woman and the fisherman!
But her nose kept on twitching, and sniffing, her paws drawing her closer, until… Luna couldn’t help inhaling deeply. Her eyes shone brightly with starlight.
Hmmm…. It smells like mooncakes!
Luna twitched her nose vigorously again. She recognized the fragrant aroma of golden syrup and white lotus paste.
Then she heard a clear voice humming up ahead. The voice grew louder as the person drew closer to where Luna sat under the branch of a growing tree.
“Red, thy and thine, mine and my,
For through the brine, do I sigh
As I meander through the crimson– “
A young girl– her red hood swaying wildly in the wind– suddenly broke off, startled, as she rounded the bend of the path in the wood. She spotted Luna waiting patiently for her.
“Oh, good morning,” the hooded girl began, “I was just–”
Almost instantly, the girl recoiled like the baker-woman. Luna felt her shoulders sag.
“Who are you?” the hooded girl demanded.
“I didn’t mean to scare you,” Luna began. She grasped her blue skirt nervously. “B-but… could you possibly spare a piece of those cakes you are carrying? I am so hungry, and I would be dearly thankful.”
The girl sneered, and clutched the basket she held closer to her chest.
“How could I spare a morsel for you? These cakes are for my grandmother, a kind gentle human lady who would sooner toss you out then feed you the scraps from her pigs’ meal! Be gone with you! You will not see any crumbs from me, you freak!”
Luna’s heart sank as the girl confirmed what the townspeople had shown her before. The girl tupped up her nose before flicking the cloak of her red hood back in a fanciful manner.
“I said, be gone! No one would help the likes of you.”
“Please, if only a small bite? Would that be so–
The girl shook her head and strutted off down the forest path, and Luna was left alone again. She watched as the girl-in-the-red-hood continued down the path only to stop in a meadow of bluebells and violets. As a lupine, she could hear the girl suddenly muttering excitedly about the upcoming ‘gala’ in the town hall and how she would arrange flowers for her hair, but Luna could hardly bring herself to care.
After all, she was still hungry. And the sun was setting.
When the moon rose above the horizon, Luna stumbled towards a tiny cottage in the forest she’d only been able to spot by its warm lights shining through its windows amongst the trees. Her weak fingernails fumbled at the door’s handle and her shivering skin could barely suppress the cold and hunger beating at her.
Her fur was gone, as well as her pride.
“Ruby? Is that you?” an old voice called, and Luna instantly knew that had been the name of the girl she’d met in the woods. “You are late, my sunshine! What took you so long?”
“I-I encountered a wolf in the woods,” Luna gasped. “P-please let me in.”
“Of course, my child!” the girl’s grandmother exclaimed, and the woman opened the door– only to pause at the sight of Luna.
Even though her skin– now as pink and furless as it could be– seemed unsuspicious, and her claws and pointed ears were gone, Luna’s eyes still remained as silver as the moon.
The grandmother blinked once, her eyes hidden by the reflection of her crescent-shaped spectacles, before she smiled warmly at Luna.
“Good evening, my child,” she murmured. “Do you need a place to stay for the night?”
Numbly, Luna nodded.
“What is your name?” the grandmother asked, and Luna dropped her head as she shuffled through the open door and into the bright and cheery kitchen. Guilt over tricking the old woman with her granddaughter's name weighed heavily upon her.
“It’s Luna,” she whispered.
“Luna? Oh, what a pretty name– as pretty as your namesake, the beautiful silver moon! My name is Mona, but you can just call me Granny or Granny Mona, if you like.” Granny Mona closed the beechwood door and turned around to smile widely at her. “Won’t you take a seat, my dear?”
Luna glanced around uneasily until she spotted the well-loved chairs surrounding the kitchen table. At the woman’s bidding, she sank down into the chair closest to the oven. She shivered in her dress and Granny Mona clucked gently at her.
For the next hour after dusk, Granny Mona brought Luna hot chocolate and the same mooncakes she’d smelled in Ruby’s basket– only these were freshly baked. Slowly the wolf girl felt her human form grow less weary and more merry as her tummy filled. Granny Mona shared many funny jokes as she bustled around, telling Luna about her work.
Granny Mona was an herbalist who made tinctures, tonics and teas to sell in town each Market Week to any folks who suffered the slightest ailment, from the common sniffles to life-threatening burns. Thus, her cottage was full of dried and fresh herbs that hung in clusters tied with twine from the rafters and shelves, and jars of petals and nuts and even insects lined the counters and were properly placed on bookshelves next to their appropriate book. Luna admired the busy woman as Granny Mona plucked herbs from the ceiling and ground them or as she weighed the correct amount before stirring the potion for an exact measure of minutes.
Then a knock came at the door and they both turned their heads.
“Ahh,” Granny Mona murmured, “that must be Ruby. Silly child, always late she is!” Granny Mona laid down her mortar and pestle and started towards the door. “I hope the mooncakes she brought will still be good.”
Luna frowned even as she anxiously stood to greet Ruby. Would the mean girl from the meadow recognize her? “W-why is your granddaughter bringing you mooncakes if you make such delicious ones already?”
Granny Mona looked back over her shoulder and winked. “My adopted daughter– Ruby’s mother– and I like to trade recipes. This batch is her attempt for me to try.” She chuckled. “Though I can already smell the burnt edges from here.”
Granny Mona opened her front door and Ruby danced in with her red hood and cape swirling happily behind her. “Good evening, Granny,” she started, “I’ve brought Mother’s–”
Ruby halted in the kitchen as she caught sight of Luna, and Luna nervously raised one hand to wave.
“H-hello,” she said. “My name is Luna.”
“Hello.” Ruby blinked a couple of times before giving her a nice smile. “My name is Ruby. Are you friends with my grandmother?”
“We just met this evening, my sunshine,” Granny Mona said, closing the door and following Ruby into the kitchen. “Take a seat and Luna will tell us a little about herself.”
Luna shivered and sat back down next to the town girl.
“It’s the famine, you see,” she began as Granny Mona took a seat, “and I am twelve years old. Old enough to be on my own, my parents said. So they, they…”
Ruby leaned over and touched her hand gently. “They cast you out.”
Luna nodded, ashamed, and both Granny Mona and Ruby sat taller in their seats.
“Well, don’t you worry,” Ruby said firmly. “Both my Granny and I will take care of you. Right, Granny Mona?”
Granny Mona smiled kindly. “You can stay here with me, Luna. I could use a new assistant to help me harvest my herbs each night.”
“Oh, but I couldn’t–”
“And there’s a clean bed in the spare room.”
Ruby nodded smugly and reached for her hands. “You and I can be friends! My grandmother has been lonely, though she protests otherwise, and I would be so happy if you stayed with her and if we could play whenever I visit!”
“That settles it, then.” Granny Mona clapped her hands and rose from her chair. “Now you two run along and pick some fresh lavender for me, please, and be back shortly. I do believe I have a story to tell you both.”
The two girls jumped up eagerly and tried to ask what the story would be about, but Granny Mona simply smiled with a secret in her eye, and handed the girls two baskets. She told them where to find the healing plant and that it needed to be picked before the moon passed three-quarters through the night sky.
Ruby and Luna treaded carefully through the woods in the rich moonlight, the sound of crickets and the soft whispering of winds through the trees creating a harmony that calmed them both. When they arrived in the meadow– which Luna spotted first– they dashed forward to the cluster of purple stalks and fuzzy petals.
“Your eyes are so beautiful,” Ruby said, “and they can see so clearly! I wouldn’t have spotted this meadow for another a while, yet.”
Luna flashed her silver eyes towards her tentative new friend.
“Th-thank you,” she murmured. “I have always been gifted with exceptional sight.”
Ruby leaned down and picked the first handful of lavender for their baskets. “Can you see the other herbs in my grandmother’s meadow?”
Luna carefully straightened and let her eyes glorify in the majesty of the moonlit clearing.
“Yes,” she said, describing it to Ruby as a painting before them. Tiny green leaves of thyme grew in large brambles, giant hyssop rose in tall towers of puffed purple, and bushed silver-veined leaves of the Silver Queen arced over the grass. Fuzzy Lamb’s Ear and fragrant sage grew in bunches around the flowering clover and yellow dandelions, and Luna could hear a musical brook nearby that watered the healing herbs Granny Mona tended with care.
Ruby truly admired her new friend as Luna’s silver eyes sparkled in the moon and her sable black hair fell like night against her back. When Luna almost stumbled into the brook she’d found, Ruby was the one who clasped her arm and pulled her back to safety. The two girls laughed at their near misadventure and skipped back to Granny Mona’s cottage.
Granny Mona took their baskets of lavender and had them sit for more mooncakes and chocolate, before she began to tell them the story she had promised.
The story began with a tale of two peoples: the Sun Children and the Moon Children. Granny Mona explained how both Children had been happy and playful with the other as they’d met each dusk and dawn for many millennia. The Sun Children, their hair as brightly golden as the sun– and the Moon Children, their skin glowing as white as the moon– were the most beautiful messengers of the night and the day. They knew no toil nor trouble with the other.
Ruby and Luna leaned forward eagerly, their cakes forgotten, as Granny Mona went on to share several of the great adventures and joyful times the Sun Children and Moon Children had together; time spent on sunrays and moonbeams, and across the stars and bright blue sky.
Then Granny Mona’s voice lowered heavily, and she told them of the downfall that came afterwards. For as Time had passed the two peoples by, and the Children each grew to love the day or night during which they reigned, the two peoples slowly chose to forget about the other.
And when another century had passed, the two peoples who had once played and cared for the other now only held great suspicion and disdain in each other’s company. The Sun Children became prideful and petty towards the Moon Children and the Moon Children became lofty and leery towards the Children of the Day. As more time passed, they even forgot what the other looked like and they started to assume the worst of each kind.
“Thus,” Granny Mona ended, “this legend’s ending is not a happy one, and one can only hope that one day the ending will change.”
Ruby sighed loudly. “Oh, how incredible would it be if I were a Sun Child,” she said. She pulled back the hood of her red cape and twirled a lock of her blonde hair through her fingers. Her blue eyes sparkled with excitement. “I’ve always loved the morning and I think the sun is prettiest. Luna, with your pretty silver eyes and long black hair, you could be a Moon Child! Wouldn’t that be wonderful? If we could help bring the Sun and Moon Children back together? We are already friends, aren't we?” she asked, with a nervous smile.
Luna nodded right away. “I’m glad I met you Ruby, and I’d like to think we’re friends.”
Ruby stood and reached for Luna’s hands. The two girls grasped them tightly together and determinedly grinned at one another.
“Friends?” Ruby asked.
“Friends!” Luna agreed.
Granny Mona cast her eyes back and forth between the two, and came to an obvious decision of some sort.
“Ruby, my sunshine,” she said. “You may stay here this night.”
“Really?” Ruby asked. Her grandmother had never let her stay the night before!
“Luna and I will see you in the morning,” Granny Mona affirmed. “You may rest before the fire in the den.”
Both Ruby and Luna leapt with joy. No longer tired, the girls eagerly played more games and shared even more stories, until Granny Mona finally shuffled them into their beds. The night was not long– for they’d already spent much of it awake– when Ruby felt the dawn creep across her face. The warm rays of the sun helped her open her eyes.
Ruby could already hear the bustling in her grandmother’s kitchen, and the low voices of Luna and Granny Mona. Ruby quickly pulled on her red hood and cape and hurried to join them.
But when she entered the kitchen, she froze in place.
Two Moon Children were standing around the table eating eggs and toast. One stood taller than the other and was hunched over the sizzling pan; she had long gray fur and a long snout, and her old gown looked like one of Granny Mona’s favorites. The other was shorter and younger, and she wore a blue gown; she had shiny black fur like midnight and her eyes were silver.
“H-Hello,” Ruby called out nervously.
“Ah, come in, sunshine! Come in!” the older wolf woman replied, and Ruby noticed that the wolf girl held a plate of fluffy eggs and buttered toast out for her.
Ruby took it hesitantly and sat down, wondering where Luna and Granny Mona had gone.
“Oh,” she cried suddenly, looking into the older Moon Child’s face. “What shiny spectacles you have!”
The wolf woman smiled and placed some jam on the table.
“And what a pretty blue dress you’re wearing!” Ruby said to the younger wolf.
The wolf girl’s eyes twinkled and she took a bite of her toast.
“And what beautiful fur you both have!” Ruby exclaimed, as she finally recognized Granny Mona’s silver curls and Luna’s black locks.
Both Granny Mona and Luna blushed, and glanced at one another.
“Yes, sunshine. It is us,” Granny Mona said. “Please know we still care and feel the same way about you as we did before. We may look different from you during the day, but that doesn’t mean we are any different on the inside.”
Luna chewed her lower lip. “A-am I still your friend?”
Ruby stared at the two Moon Children before her– one she had known her entire life, the other she had met just the night before.
When she’d first met Luna back in the meadow, she had been horrified by Luna’s fur. Luna’s ears and snout had been ugly and bizarre. Now, Ruby couldn’t help admiring the midnight black fur and sparkle in Luna’s silver eyes. Granny Mona’s ears were large and fuzzy, her wolfish grin still adorable and sweet.
Any fear Ruby had felt melted away, like the warming rays of the sun.
“Of course.” Then, more strongly, she exclaimed, “Of course I still care for you both! Granny Mona, I could never stop loving you– and Luna, you’re my new friend! Maybe one day we can even be best friends.”
Luna brightened at that, and Granny Mona chuckled as her adopted granddaughter and the wolf girl hugged over their breakfast.
Then a knock came at the door, and both Luna and Ruby peeped out the window as the ten-year old woodcutter’s son picked up the parcels of herbs and tonics Granny Mona had set out the night before.
“Who is that?” Ruby asked, as the boy trotted away with the goods.
“He’s the woodcutter’s son. He sells my wares at Marketweek for me. The townspeople would be afraid to see me during the day like this, even my customers who have bought my creams and tinctures for years,” Granny Mona explained, and she wouldn’t look at either of the girls.
“That is not fair, Granny Mona,” Luna whispered gently.
“No, it’s not!” Ruby placed her tiny fists on her hips. “Don’t worry, Granny Mona. Nor you, Luna. I am friends with Emma, the baker’s daughter– she’s a huge flirt, but really nice! Then there’s Clara, and Adele, and Nancy– the miller’s twins and the pigkeeper’s girl. There’s also Paul, the butcher’s son, and Samuel, the tailor’s apprentice–”
“Ruby, sunshine, what are you thinking?” Granny Mona asked.
“You aren’t thinking to…” Luna hesitated.
Ruby’s blue eyes sparkled brilliantly as she gave a wide mischievous grin.
Generations passed, and the names of Luna, Ruby, and Granny Mona were slowly lost to the hourglass of time. But their deeds during that age were never Forgotten.
Ruby began to introduce her friends in town, one by one, to Granny Mona and Luna– and as time passed– those young children in town came to be friends with the lonely grandmother and her new assistant. When they learned the truth of the Sun and Moon Children, they were unafraid to see Granny Mona and Luna’s true forms in the daylight. The children embraced their differences of fur and claw and agreed to keep their secret.
Years passed, and those children grew up. And when those children had children, they shared the secret they'd learned in their childhood. The tales of adventure between the Sun and Moon Children. Their children then curiously met with the young woman, Luna, in the woods; and the grown-up woodcutter would let them eagerly take turns delivering the wolf girl’s herbal remedies back to town.
And when those children had children, and their children had children, they carried on the tradition... until the fear and distrust between the Sun and Moon Children was as if it’d never been.
***Postscript: Please post your comments on my Red Riding Hood Fable Twist! Was the dialogue to exposition to detail a good ratio?
About the author
In every lifetime, I've been a writer: a humble scribe learning her craft, a sorceress learning her words, a venturing philosopher. I'm a full-time tutor in the Bay Area, and I'm currently trying to publish a full length Cinderella novel!
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
Compelling and original writing
Creative use of language & vocab