Blue Moon

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 1 (v.1) - Chapter 1

Submitted: May 15, 2019

Reads: 70

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Submitted: May 15, 2019



Blue Moon

Chapter On

Once in a blue moon,” people say whenever something rare or precious or seemingly magical falls like a star into their lives – you win the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes without buying a magazine; you lose your wedding ring and cry for a month, then find it glistening in the Mall fountain, in plain view and nobody’s touched it; you fly in the pen pal whose mind and words you’ve fallen in love with, and when she steps off that plane, words made flesh for the very first time, she’s the most beautiful woman you’ve ever seen – and she’s smiling, seeing you. It can happen. Hearts get crossed and lucky stars thanked in moments so rare, but there are people who know that a blue moon occurs every two or three years, whenever the moon is full twice in one calendar month, who plan for such nights around campfires and cauldrons, by candle and lamp light, arranging their wishes like silken strands in a web, weaving nets of desire they set out by night to ensnare those magical blue rays as they fall. Gypsies, witches, midwives the world over know the moon is a woman – Diana, Artemis, Cerridwen, Luna. They count her slow cycles and live by her rhythm. Such people know that, under the light of a blue moon, the Earth is a wishing well, and anything can happen. They do not waste her gifts.

And there are people who have never heard of the blue moon, who don’t believe wishes ever come true, who never look to the sky because they can’t believe it matters, who haven’t raised their eyes from their shoes in a very long time because hope lies in working one foot in front of the other on some desperate path to anywhere but hereout of the too-empty house her children grew up in and out of, toward any woman who reminds him of the one that didn’t love him back, away from this town like a stopped clock, with no past and no future, every road leading to the same inexorable end…

Cedric Moon is sixteen today, Halloween, 1974, and as dusk creeps to darkness and Trick-or-Treaters materialize from candeled houses like the tiny ghosts and pirates and flashlight-clutching ballerinas they’ve become, Cedric Moon does not see them. He is watching his shoes. His father’s long-stored-away Army boots suddenly fit him today, and he’s raking their unfamiliar weight hard through the blood-red carpet of leaves in Sylvia Reynolds' front yard, having lit out onto Hawthorne Street with the same half-formed expectation he always has on nights like this, night when something special should have happened but didn’t, just dinner, just a brightly-wrapped box with a pair of hand-me-down shoes inside, just a guilty smile from his mother, Dad shushing everybody as he turns on the TV, his brother Brian waiting till Mom has scurried off to the kitchen to whisper how stupid he looks in those hulking black boots, how pathetic that they didn’t spend a dime on him, as they had when Brian turned sixteen and they gave him a car. Cedric Moon has one and only one friend, Sylvia Reynolds, and on nights like these he hits the front door with no plan but away, but his inner radar always leads him here, to Sylvia’s house, to Fat Sylvia’s wide brown eyes that get bigger and rounder whenever she sees him, to eyebrows that arch in delight at his approach, to soft, round arms he never has to let hold him because he knows she really wishes he would.

Sylvia Reynolds has a date. It’s Halloween and there’s a party and dance at the high school, and Fat Sylvia is going. She’s been sixteen since summer, old enough to be allowed by her parents to date, and a Senior boy has asked her to the dance. And she’s going. Cedric Moon can’t quite wrap his mind around either of those propositions, the asking or the going, in relation to Fat Sylvia, and as he stands behind her there in her bedroom, watching her primp her hair and apply the very first makeup he’s ever seen on her face, it strikes him that something is desperately wrong with her mirror. The tiared princess sparkling in the glass seems thinner than he can accept or explain. Her arms are smoother and less round than he remembers, and her eyes, turned perversely on their owner in that wrong funhouse mirror, are every bit as big and round and bright as they are supposed to be trained only on him. Her straight brown hair, which should hang long over her face as if hiding something, is pinned back and set. Sylvia’s reflection is pretty. He doesn’t like it. Stones of ice form hard behind Cedric Moon’s eyes, then trickle back to fill the pit of his stomach, stacking there into an unforgiving wall around his breath. If he stands here looking but not breathing much longer he senses he will die, so he splinters the icy wall with a grunt, spins on his black rubber heel, and heads out again – away.

“Cedric, wait!” Sylvia steps into his path, and he looks at his shoes, fighting seeing her with everything he’s worth. It’s not enough. A small, gold-wrapped box with a paper jack-o-lantern tag appears in her hand. She passes it to him. “Happy birthday.”

He looks at the gift, then as deep into her eyes as he can stand, which isn’t far. She is looking back at him, just looking, her eyes so small and painted blue with eye-shadow it makes him shiver. Her sequined gown reflects the makeup light so hard his eyes sting and begin to water. “What happened to you?” An electric charge races up his spine, pushing his body to explode, to throw the little box across the room, to smash the mirror, to grind the silvered glass to dust beneath his father’s heavy boots. When she doesn’t answer, he lets the charge arc hot off his tongue. “You look stupid,” he says. “Pathetic.”

He looks for rage in her face but doesn’t find it there, and when she only stands in wounded silence, tears welling blue pools around the edges of her eyes, it’s all just too much. He has to go. He stuffs her gift deep into the pocket of his jacket and slips into the hallway, down the stairs, past her parents scooping chocolates into plastic pumpkins at the door, and out again into the yard which has become an alien territory, a dangerous foreign landscape whose contours he no longer recognizes. He’s raking deep furrows into strange leaves that have turned black with the night, counting his steps in his father’s heavy shoes until he reaches the gate, which opens the wrong direction from how he remembers, and the street he at last steps into is not the street he left. All round him, tiny ghosts flit and chatter, pirates charge porches like boarded ships, ballerinas twirl in the flickering glow of fading flashlights and porch candles guttering to darkness everywhere at once.

And balanced on the horizon sits the fattest, roundest fullest full moon Cedric Moon has ever seen. The bright outer darkness where the spirits of the dead go is releasing her children for the Eve of All Souls, the night of Cedric Moon’s birth, and as her cold fingers reach out to touch him he finds he is running, the boots suck sucking in the mud like an army behind him, his hand clenched around the little gold box in his pocket, wishing on it like a star, wishing he was anywhere but here, anyone but Cedric Moon whose friend Fat Sylvia has been swallowed up by someone pretty, someone whose eyes do not belong to him. He’s wishing and wishing as he runs, as he passes his own house and runs harder, as he rounds the corner onto shadowy Blackburn Court, wishing as he crashes headlong into the passenger door of his brother Brian’s car. The black ’59 Rambler is parked across the sidewalk, half in and out of blonde Suzie Dougherty’s driveway, the engine left running and nobody inside.

He hits the door hard and lets himself crumple dramatically to the sidewalk. The little box has fallen from his pocket and he pulls it to him, leaning back against the car, tearing hotly at the string and gold paper, knocking away the lid to find a silver woman’s locket, which he pries open with a fingernail. A picture of the stranger in Fat Sylvia’s bedroom smiles up at him. Her tiny eyes focus of into the distance. Inscribed inside the locket’s heart-shaped lid is a curse: Friends Forever.

The words swim in his vision, and for a moment Cedric Moon closes his eyes to consider the possibility that he might be dreaming, asleep and safe in his own bed, but when the momentary sensation he feels of being gently rocked is shattered by the sound of Suzie Dougherty laughing, he turns toward the sound and knows he is half-right. He’s dreaming, no question, but safety is nowhere in the script. His brother Brian is standing under the Dougherty’s orange porchlight, blonde Suzie on his arm. Her parents have closed the door and released them to the night, and Brian, already half-drunk and no longer trying to hide it, is entertaining Suzie with a caustic “Yes, Sir! Thank you, Sir! Bite me, Sir!” routine that has her snorting and shushing him in case her father might still be within earshot on the other side of the door.

Possession is the word Cedric Moon will one day choose when describing this moment to a shrink. The moon has risen, growing small and white as it escapes the tallest trees and reaches to command the stars. Its light touches him, and he is suddenly cold. A spider’s web of frost seeps into his shoes, vines up his thin legs and right on up to the top of his head. His body makes no sound as he watches it slowly rise, then skulk ghostlike behind the running car and around to the driver’s side. Brian doesn’t look over until the click of the door handle gives him away, and by then it’s too late. His brother is running toward the car, and then vanishing behind it, his red face glowing in the taillights as Cedric spins the old Ford out into the street, then leans all the dead weight of his father’s right boot into the gas pedal. Hawthorne Street explodes before him, and he veers left, across what might have been traffic, except there are no cars, no cops, no people anywhere. The Trick-or-Treaters have all gone home, and only the vandals still lurk, masked demons smashing pumpkins and soaping windows in the darkness. His own house is a shadow as he passes it, barely glancing over. Sylvia Reynolds’ porchlight still glows like a beacon on the black sea he’s launched himself into, but he passes that, too, choosing the darkness, embracing it, cranking the Rambler’s heat to high as he cruises down Center Street, then guns the old car west on Route 49, the frost melting gradually away and his feelings returning as he flies now in total darkness past the forests and cornfields that separate the tiny world of Lumber Creek, Illinois from the magical frontier that must stretch in every direction beyond it.

It is really, really dark. He’s never driven alone before, only in the high school Driver’s Ed car, observed by a teacher and two nervous classmates, and as his feelings return, Cedric Moon becomes acutely aware that he is, in fact, driving, and that he’s all at once wholly unsure how such a thing is done. Gas, he tells himself. Brakes, he thinks aloud. Both hands on the wheel. Eyes on the road. The road goes curvy as he hits the real outskirts of town and he slows down a little. He’s got tall pine trees now on both sides of the car, and suddenly even the headlights aren’t much help picking out the turns ahead. He breaks as each new curve rises like a wooden wall before him, then guns it again on the straightaways, because every time he slows he sees that locket, his brother’s burning face, ice in his shoes like shards of silver glass, and he’d rather be consumed with physical fear, with the urgency of impending death, than pause long enough to let those stray pieces meld into any sort of clear picture.

Cedric Moon knows one thing for sure, and right now that’s enough. This pathetic excuse for a sixteenth birthday has been the last such event he’ll ever know. The world he is capable of recognizing as real has died, taking him with it, and the trembling this realization sets off in his legs, his white knuckles on the wheel, is nothing compared to the storm of relief thundering in his chest, the thrill of deliverance spinning like a whirlwind through his head. About goddamn time, he thinks, and steadies his legs by slamming the gas pedal once again to the floor. The faster he drives, the lighter he feels. Black chunks of the life he might have had to endure scrape clean off his body with each near-collision like ballast cut free from a balloon, and now he’s practically floating over the car, a Halloween ghost, a moon rising up and up and up into the night. This headlong rush into the arms of darkness feels better than anything he’s ever known, and if he can just stay on the road and ahead of the sun it might go on forever. If he drives fast enough and refuses to think, tomorrow may never catch him.

The sudden glow in his driver’s side mirror is not the rising sun, though looking into it leaves him blinking and wiping at his eyes just the same. Lighting his mirror is a naked woman, red-brown hair falling soft on pale shoulders, flowing like water past round, perfect breasts. Her arms are raised, palms open to the sky. She is singing to the moon.

Then trees and shaking metal. In the tenth of a second the vision captures his eyes, a turn has appeared in the twisting two-lane highway, and he has missed it. The Rambler spins on loose gravel, spews grass, then bites solid soil and plunges deep into the woods, lurching between rows of green pines so close together even light does not pass through. But Cedric Moon has become darkness, and so the shadows protect him, passing the car from hand to dark hand until he reaches Sturgis Lake unharmed to slip like a knife into the moon’s bright reflection on the water.

The engine dies halfway in, and the water instantly up to his waist is black and cold in a way he finds comforting. Caught in the hot white circle of the moon, watching that black water reaching for the dashboard, Cedric Moon recognizes for the very first time in his life that he has a choice. There are no parents here to choose for him, to tell him what he wants or thinks or feels. No Brian to defile the choice by telling him he’s shit either way. No Fat Sylvia to worry beside him, to promise everything will be alright no matter what happens next…

Sink or swim, Cedric thinks, and laughs in spite of all the trouble he knows he’s in if he ever goes back. He laughs as he rolls down the window and water rushes in, as he fights the downward pull, as he slips out through the opening and swims to the shallows, the car slowly bubbling under behind him. He laughs as he pulls up wet on the rocky shore and takes off like a rocket through the moonless woods.

In sixteen years of life, Cedric Moon has not for even one moment ceased to want and want and want, swimming like a wounded fish in circles through an ocean of desire he cannot see, but whose presence he knows by its ubiquitous pressure. He’s never felt allowed to truly want any thing, to name his desire or take a single step toward achieving any goal. It’s never occurred to him to ask, or even to question who might grant such a wish, or why permission to want might be needed at all. The sudden clarity he feels as he barrels through those woods, passing through boulders and splitting trees with a thought, is an alien current churning hot through his tepid ocean, driving him to surface. He’s through now with running away. His lungs spark and ignite, and fire flashes out to consume his hands and legs and groin as he sprints for the very first time toward something untainted by fear or doubt, toward the first clean breath of a wholly new existence, as he releases with each pounding step the wet lungful he’s been holding in since the day he was born.

Cedric Moon is sixteen years old today, and for the very first time in all his life, he knows exactly what he wants – and nothing and no one is going to stop him getting it.
He will find the naked woman.

* * *

The Earth’s slow march around the sun is not how witches measure time. They follow Diana’s transformations in the night, from Maiden to Mother to crone to Rebirth, New Moon ascending to radiant Full, Full Moon’s descent to mysterious dark, thirteen lunar months of twenty-eight days, threaded like beads on a circular string. The witch’s year has 364 days – and on that wheel of the year, Halloween is Samhain, day 365, the holiest of days, a day outside of time belonging to neither the old year or the new, betwixt and between them, a night on which the veil separating the Human and Spirit worlds grows thin. On Samhain the ancestors visit the living. On Samhain the living welcome them home. It’s a night for workings of divination and magic, for releasing the past and embracing the future, and on this holiest of nights, Samhain, 1974, Elizabeth Cross stands proudly naked to the sky.

And the naked sky stands proudly with Elizabeth. Her Circle of Power has blossomed into a sphere, a miniature moon of pale light around her, and within that azure globe, the stars have come down to play. Glistening sparks whirl in every direction, chasing each other like cerulean fireflies. She stands, feet apart, hands raised to the sky, and the circling stars form constellations in her palms. She brings her hands together and molds the pure starlight into a tiny sphere, and this she holds to her womb to bless it with life, then up to her breasts to feed it with her love, and finally to her mouth to breathe into the little orb the living essence of her desire.

It has been nine long years since Gideon Fletcher’s death. Nine years of self-imposed exile, of mourning, nine years spent spinning the land into a cocoon of personal healing around her like a caterpillar craving cool darkness, knowing light only in warm dreams of the past, years of doggedly transforming land commissioned to become a rural covenstead into a solitary sanctum, a private womb of natural beauty and magic hidden deep among the corn-scarred fields of the Midwest landscape. Gideon had been her High Priest. For years and years his death made their mission of hiving an American coven feel impossible. She couldn’t do it alone. But the London Elders believed she could. They believed in Elizabeth. More importantly, they knew to leave her alone, neither recalling her to England nor sending another High Priest to fill Gideon’s role in the project. They left her the house and the land, continued to send funds, and never once questioned her use of those resources. Gideon Fletcher had been her High Priest, but he had been far more besides – he was her lover, her soulmate, the only true magical partner she had known in a lifetime practicing the Craft. And the Elders understood that. They respected the impact of Gideon’s loss on her life. And they had known that, allowed to heal from that loss at her own natural pace, a day would come when Elizabeth would reemerge into the light, and the covenstead project would resume.

Nine years. Three times three. Maiden, Mother, Crone

Rebirth. A religion as old as Wicca can afford to wait a year here, a decade there. Time is a circle, without beginning or end. Nature evolves in amaranthine spirals, and the Goddess waits at every crossroads, every turn. The Elders were right – the time for Elizabeth’s reemergence has finally come, at its own natural pace. She’s holding the little orb of starlight to her lips, and now she is humming. It’s Samhain, and Gideon’s spirit has visited and moved on. He’s given his blessing on her return to the world. They’ve shared their farewells. Alone in the circle, the blue moon fills Elizabeth’s lungs, burns like ice against her skin, sings cold fire through her rushing blood. Ecstatic waves dance lightning up and down her spine as she lets the song take her, incanting her wish deep into the glowing heart of the spell-ball:

"Luna, Luna, Luna, Diana!
Bless me, Bless me, Bless me, Diana!
Mother! Mother! Mother! Diana!
Luna, Luna, Luna, Diana!

By Powers of Earth and Air and Fire,
By Water and Spirit , my Desire
I name! Diana! Mother Moon!
Join Your Power to this Rune!
I am Reborn! My Sacred Quest,
I Bid this Night to Manifest!
Children of the Earth and Sky!
Wicca! Wicce! Hear my Cry!
Between the Worlds this Samhain Night,
My Heart is Filled with Purest Light!
Fly Now, All with Eyes to See
To My Side! So Mote It Be!

Luna, Luna, Luna, Diana…"

The little ball is buzzing like a frantic bee between her cupped hands, and on the third repetition of the incantation, she sets it free. She sings and sings as the spell-ball rises from her palms, whirls thrice around her head, her heart, her womb, then fires off in a wild clockwise orbit around the interior of the Circle of Power, spinning faster and faster, its long cobalt tail weaving a spherical net around her, a cold fire reflection of the watching moon above, and when her song peaks, the net explodes in a rain of unbound stars that cascade in every direction, filling the sky with fireworks, kissing the corn, and shaking crows like clouds of black smoke from the trees. The crows, one by one, catch the stars in their mouths and carry her spell on velvet wings into the night, wide bands of blue light spreading behind them to every horizon like the petals of a flower opening at last to the world.

And at the living center of that flower, Elizabeth cross sees stars. Releasing the spell has overwhelmed her senses, and she finds herself flat on her back, her eyes filled with fireworks and sky.

A gift demands a gift.

She is no longer alone in the Circle. A softly-glowing woman wrapped in swirling blue robes stands over her. Elizabeth can see the night sky right through the robes. She watches planets, suns, constellations birthing whole from the woman’s deep pockets.

A gift demands a gift.


A gift demands a gift, Child. See what the night brings you?

She is standing again. The woman caresses her hair with a tender hand, then gently squeezes the back of her neck. The world behind her opens like a rising curtain and she see the tall wooden fence Gideon built to protect their work from prying eyes. She sees a skinny boy in blue jeans with wide, staring eyes, perched high above the fence on a tree branch, his jaw hanging loose. She sees him seeing her, then dropping behind the fence with a thud as she turns to face him. Heavy footsteps pound away into the woods, and a rushing wind laughs leaves into crackling spirals around her as the Goddess dissolves into glittering blue starlight and black, immeasurable sky.


© Copyright 2019 jack preston king. All rights reserved.


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