Was it a lie?
Finally released to follow his fate, and the great moon was gone, nowhere to be found.
The moth, like all the other little mothren, had heard so much of the moon, even inside the cocoon as he grew, whispers from mothers, and great things to achieve. The moon was Valhalla. Nirvana. The moon was god, wide and white and welcoming, a last commune so very different from the lonely cupped paper palms of his first.
But try as he might, he could see no moon, there in the dark of the warm first night. Just the smear of the stars above.
His wings wilted. His mind sighed, and disappointment took over the aim of him. What kind of god comes and goes on a whim? What kind of god offers light like a lure, then closes his eyes to black? No one whispered about this in the cocoon, and he wasn’t sure what to do. Defeated and tired, he was turning to go back to the sleeping bush when he saw it: a pale beckoning.
He dipped and lifted towards the beacon, flitting his way to the glow. As he got closer he could see what it really was: a bedside lamp. A little moon. The boy was sitting up in bed, reading a book. The moth flew through the open window and silently, carefully, landed inside the shade of the light.
He outstretched his wings, like he had practiced, pressed the tissue of him to the warm shape of the frame, exhaling his body to the ritual instinct. It was as he imagined, and as he was told: heaven, wide and white and welcoming. This will do, the moth thought, relaxing. This little moon.
“Hello there,” the boy said softly, and the moth jumped, snapping wings up tight from the reverie. He didn’t think he’d been seen. No one whispered about this in the cocoon either.
The boy peeked under the lampshade. His eyes were deep blue in the light, and as tired and low as the moth’s wings. He blinked a long blink. “Where did you come from little guy?”
The moth couldn’t answer: “From the sleeping bush. From somewhere without any guiding light.” But he let his wings ease, stayed his feet from their flight.
“You can stay here as long as you like. My dad isn’t home.” Slowly the boy reached up to outside of the shade and pressed his small hand against it, the moth on the other side, an almost touch, then splayed his fingers wide — one, two, three, four, five — then closed his finger back together.
The moth considered — the open window that could close anytime, the warmth of the moon behind him — and answered back, stretching his parchment wings open like a flower, then pursed them back together again, a silent communion.
The boy pulled back, settled into his bed, and opened the wings of his own book to the light. He read and read and read and read, and feel asleep without turning off the lamp.
Yes, this will do, thought the moth, as he sighed with his body and soaked up the heat. This god. This fate.
Meagan Johanson is a writer from Oregon, where she lives with her family and one very good cat. She enjoys playing the piano, watching things grow, and sticking the landing on a new recipe. She is always seeking a new obsession, and has lived many exciting lives, at least in her imagination. You can find her on Twitter: @MeaganJohanson.