The moon had been quite content; floating amongst all the stars. The stars were pretty, each one was different, and she never saw the same one twice. They never stayed long, the stars, they didn’t stop more than a brief moment on their journeys; and though they were shining and silver, the moon rarely followed them when they left. Sometimes, if they were particularly bright, she might stay up to watch them fading in the dawn light, gently sparkling on the edge of the blue.
One morning after she had stayed up late, quite by accident, the moon caught sight of the sun. She gasped, all in awe, when she witnessed his beauty. Tender and caressing, like her own light, at first, he shone over the edge of the horizon, but as he rose higher and higher in the morning sky, he became more fierce and intense, stronger and passionate. The moon almost cried. He lit up the darkness in a way no star had ever done. It took her by the heart and she floated; ghost-like in the morning’s haze, to get nearer to him.
The closer she got, the warmer she felt. It was funny; the moon had never realised she was cold before. She got so close she could feel him beating, not only upon her surface, but within her. She felt almost blinded by his brightness, and had to shield her eyes. Her body prickled in his heat. She felt she could go no closer, lest she be injured by the astounding light. And yet she could not go away. So the moon stood at a distance from the sun, and called across the darkness to him.
Now, the sun had been quite content, floating amongst all the pretty stars. He was often lonely in the day time; and lingered, long into the evenings, or rose early in the mornings, that he might catch a glimpse of the stars, shining around his bed. He liked the stars, but they faded too quickly, always leaving before he had chance to show them the day.
One morning the sun rose when it was still dark, in hope of spending longer with the stars. As he peered over the horizon, quite by accident, the sun caught sight of the moon. He was stilled and astonished by the way she shone. Not hot or fiery like his own light, but cool and patient, all tenderness and blue. She lit up the darkness like no star ever had, and all the smallest things, like the moths and the lace-wings, and all the largest, like the oceans and the whales, all wanted to be near her. She looked so delicate and precious…like a jewel in the early, azure sky.
The sun was certain that he loved the moon. He stayed late at night just to look at her. Rose even earlier just to see her light the dark. He watched her from far away, where he was sure his heat would not harm her.
Sometimes the sun was sure he had heard the moon calling to him, and that the sound of her patient words, her gentle breath, had cooled his burning for a moment. But he could not be sure. Perhaps it was wishful thinking? He dare not call back, for fear that he had been wrong.
“What would she, who is beloved by mighty oceans, followed by elegant lace-wings, and surrounded with cool serenity, want with a turbulent fire such as I?” It could not be true. The sun was sure and certain, he was not worthy of her beauty and the desire she commanded.
Sometimes the sun lost the moon for days, or months. Sometimes he could not see her for all the pretty stars, or worse still, for dark clouds in his eyes. He longed for her, but did not search. He felt she had gone away those days, just as he deserved; away from his tempestuous burning. But when his light softened, in the morning or the evening, she always returned, patient and present, constant, and it cooled him just to look at her.
Now, when she called across the darkness, the moon was certain the sun could hear her. Sometimes, she felt he even turned his head towards her. But he always ignored her; just as she deserved. The sun was all passion and excitement, and all things wanted to be with him, from the tiny flowers who tilted their petals towards him each morning, to the children who offered up their hands and their joy to his warmth. The flowers closed their petals when they saw the moon, and the children slept. She could never hope to be so captivating.
Said the moon: “Why would something so beautiful, to whom all the flowers and the children turn their faces and smile, answer to my chilled voice that dare not go closer for fear the heat shall harm me?”
So the moon watched the sun and gathered her courage, creeping closer each day, where she could feel his warmth grow raging. Sometimes, the moon lost the sun, for days, or months, behind thick clouds or a passing pretty star, but she always looked for him, and in the morning or the evening, she would find him again. Soon, the moon found she did not want the moths’ wings to kiss her anymore, nor the oceans’ waves to caress her. She recoiled from what had once been pleasure. There was no joy lest it come from him. She needed only to feel the heat of the sun. This was how the moon grew certain that she loved the sun.
One evening, the sun seemed restful, and so, the moon stood trembling before him. Right before him, as close as she could be. Suddenly, all his light was for her, and it did not burn; all his beauty was ceremoniously unveiled. The sun hid nothing, and the moon neither – both were naked and beautiful, and only for one another.
“I love you,” said the sun, “but I will destroy you. There are times you cannot be so close. I am too hot, too rough, too unpredictable. I will consume you. I love you. Don’t stay. Because I love you…don’t stay.”
Said the moon: “I move oceans; I am far stronger than I seem. Look carefully, you will see I too am rough and unpredictable. See the cold and the winds that blow on my surface? They grow quiet when I am with you. Your heat is not so blistering, it does not burn me.”
Said the sun: “It grows cooler when I am with you.”
“I love you…” said the moon. “And because I love you, I cannot…I will not go.”
There was no light on the Earth that day, as the sun and the moon stood gazing, face to face. But every heart saw, just the same, that love is strongest in the darkness, and in the ones who stay.