Here is part of a short story I have been working on for a while. Let me know what you think
Who yoked this tree's swift seeds to wind and welkin?
(alteration of Zend-Avesta, Yasna 44.4)Neap the elf set out over the dark and moonless hills. Reaching the top of a certain knoll, he began to feel his way up the sky. Soon she came upon that which she sought: the slumbering new moon. He folded it to make a half circle, then half again narrow wise, the round edge to the straight edge, and then in thirds. It was as her mother had taught her to fold the tablecloth at home. Neap put the folded moon under his armpit and slinked home.
Even though the moon had been taken down, there still remained a starless dark circle where it had been in the sky.
It took Neap all night to sneak home. Back in his grotto, he unfolded the moon, and a handful of glimmering stars fell out. When the stars touched the smooth rock floor, they stopped their shining and turned into pale blue beans. Neap put the dim orbs on her table and finished unfolding the moon, laying it over her bed. He wasn’t too concerned. The theft of the moon was so great, so who would notice a few missing stars? She yawned wide and the first rays of morning sun shone on her pointy teeth. Neap crawled into bed for a nap.
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Away in a far valley, the sky changed from dusty purple to pink. Under a dry shrub with white rabbit flowers, a child named Pythagoras layed down to start his day's work: looking at the sun without blinking. Pythagoras opened his eyes, lay down at the base of the shrub, and opened his mouth. His mind was now firmly elsewhere. As usual, the shrub dripped nourishing dew into his mouth from a small tube sprouting from its root. The day looked like it would be clear and bright - he would not be interrupted.
The shrub noticed the creature at its base. How could it not? The thing flitted about like a tufted seed that propelled itself along the ground, never setting root - changing places even faster than the rabbit that hopped across the sky. It took pity on the thing and nurtured it with exudate, trying to teach it to sit in one place for a while.
After having thieved the night away, Neap was fast asleep wrapped in the darkness of the new moon. It was said that Neap’s light eyes, sharp teeth, and long thin ears could be traced back to some goblin ancestor, but this had no truth to it. Neap was elf through and through.
As dusk fell, Pythagoras rose from his day’s work and went home to his mother.
He walked over, among, and through the verdure - the green power in which he had lived his whole life. Each leaf and shoot would normally greet him in its own way, an aroma, a stench, the deposit of a burr. And yet this night many of his companions were silent. The plants that grow by the light of the moon—blinkweed, dream perilla, opal nopal, elfheal, hooting tansy, loon’s flower, everburning sagebrush, panther cap, gray pacay, medusita, wereberry, mocking orange, moon opener, red wet euphorbia, pine marten mushroom, lycantropica, sighing bough, sea-faring lotus, scythe pod tree, bashful hoodia, wuthering willow—all began to search for the fresh sliver of the waxing moon.
Finding no soft moonlight to thrive by, they began to droop and wither, their top leaves started to shrivel, their base leaves gained wrinkles, and their roots wriggled like worms in the dirt. Night herbs hungered for the pallid light and set to moaning in their quiet plant-like way. After nights of withering, wrinkling, wriggling, and moaning, they set to thrashing in place.
The thrashing caused plants like corn to harvest themselves, while some created firewood on accident, and others still hardened the ground around them with their flopping. One early morning while walking to his place of work, Pythagoras had to take care not to be thrashed.
Every night was lit by only the stars.
With no moon, the tides stood still and the water became stagnant. People’s blood ceased to flow. Wolves stopped howling. Lunatics became dull. The night sky burned greenly, for the once-verdant moon-eaters exhausted their reserves, frustrating and fuming, in their search for the lunar body.
Oh Neap, she was a naughty wee elf. What havoc he wreaked!
But the phasing moon was not all that was missed - a certain white flowered shrub fed upon the particular light of several stars - ones that made up the head of the rabbit that leapt across the sky. The stars that made up the rabbit’s head were not there. The rabbit could not see, and the shrub could not grow. Oh no!
Days passed and no moon appeared in the sky, and the dark circle remained a blank in the sky. Still wrapped in the new moon, Neap slept on and on, seeing troubled dreams of
The lone rabbit shrub did not wither, wrinklie, wriggle, moan, or thrash. It was accustomed to a lack and attack. It knew drought and blight and mite well. Poverty of nutriment and rain had shriveled its spirit into something hard. In all of its years, the shrub had never made seed. Between poor soil, unfavourable weather, and caring for the helpless animal at its base, it had never found the right season. With all of its might, the shrub made to move quickly like the creature. In just a few moments, it pushed all of its pale flowers up and towards its center. The flowers all brushed and nuzzled together, sharing essences. As the flowers fell from their branches, the shrub pulled all its flower essence inward, encasing itself in a hard lacquered spore, which it stowed in the tube at its base.
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Some sunsets later, when Young Pythagoras rose from his daily sun staring, he found his tongue to be leathery and dry. The shrub was flowerless and no longer dripped dew into his mouth from the small tube. In the tube, however, was a cloudy marble. He put this in his pocket and went home to his mother.
Neap grew sore in his long sleep. She dreamed of a multitude of shapes and colors, as colorful deep shadows on a smooth wall. His mind projected in rich detail, lighting up the cave.
Through dreaming eyes Neap saw a green line topped by an inverted red triangle. It blossomed into a multitude of grayscale flowers with bright violet markings. The markings menaced Neap and she struggled to wake from this half-dream, but he was wrapped tight in the moon. The shapes on the wall became blue and glew.
The discarded stars that were the sky rabbit’s eye, nose, and ear began to grow and sense Neap’s projections on the cave wall.
The first bean saw a fruit that deliqueses instantly, living only tomorrow. The second bean changed its vision into an instant of aromas, at first fresh and green, then mellow and sweet, then overripe and all-encompassing. The shapes on the wall took the form of smoke, dancing sight and smell into folkloric projections. The third caught the whiff of a story and began to narrate:
Rabbit had always run faster than snake and outran it with ease. However, one spring day rabbit woke up and felt the tug of years - its hop felt more like a hobble and its leap felt more like a lurch. Rabbit thought itself wise and began to consider how it might outrun snake. And if it wasn’t able to outrun snake, how it might outsmart it.
Rabbit visited the waters to drink and think. There it met its acquaintance Platypus.
“Hello, rabbit. You look troubled today.”
“Is it so apparent, Platypus? I fear being caught by snake is inevitable.”
“Perhaps that is so, for snake is patient, fast, and hungry.”
“If only I could live in the water like you, I would live my days carefree”
“Oh friend, there are dangers in the water, too.”
“Then how is it you remain so calm?”
“That is thanks to these spurs on my hind legs.”
Rabbit was quite impressed by Platypus’s sharp spurs, which leaked venom and fended off crocodile and hawk alike. Platypus was in a generous mood and loaned the rabbit its venomous claws for a day. And so rabbit decided to stop running from snake. At midday, rabbit lay basking in the middle of the field, waiting for the snake. Snake, which preferred to gaze into its prey’s eyes, angled around to speak to its prey.
“Are you ill, Rabbit?”
“No, Snake. I have come to accept the state of the world.”
Snake began to swallow rabbit tail first and felt a store sting. Rabbit kicked with its spurred hind legs, driving the poison deep into Snake’s gullet. The struggle lasted days, the Snake slowly dying from venom, and the Rabbit slowly crushed. Where the two met, something new took places.
After a full week of gripping and thrashing, neither Rabbit nor Snake won, and both became one. Out of Rabbit-Snake’s intertwining, something new emerged. A cony-headed worm, its death rasp voice and flicking tail speaking at the same time.
Neap’s dreams no longer played like shadows on the cave wall. They slithered out of her cave home.
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No longer the enlivening, healing, fair, lordly, amber-eyed orb it used to be, the sun was hostile to the child philosopher. Its cruel rays burned the world darker than the shadows it cast.
Pythagoras was no longer able to sit still all day and stare into the sun. He hadn’t realized just how much the shrub’s exudate had fortified him for the task. Now the sun burned his eyes, causing the world to take on a sheer metallic ink sheen that took hours to go away.
Pythagoras woke up to his other senses, of touch and air. His hands extended, he felt the wind flow over the earth and knew that the air was a thin ocean resting atop the seas and the land. when it susurrated, it washed over his skin - and through the clear medium the bold sun beamed.
He walked home lightly at the base of this swirling aether, a bottom feeder in the feathery benthic zone.
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Over a rare shared lunch, Pythagoras’s Mom told him of a charm plant named Legume. It might let him continue staring into the sun all day. Legume was a moongrower and, in these moonless times, quite rare.
Pythagoras ventured out with his full belly and went to the woods. This plant was nowhere to be found in the edge of the forest where she said it was last year.
When the moon first disappeared, it had shrieked and thrashed like all the others, protractedly giving up its ghost. However, Legume grew tired of death, so it decided to postpone it for a while. It pulled its many tendrils together and gathered what moonlight remained in them. It fruited a wrinkled pepino covered in white powder. It was leprose and soft to the touch, born overripe. Its inside was spongy and honeycombed. The plant hid what little moonlight it could in the geometric pockets of its powdered melon medium.
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so long for now,
C A S