new moon: new year
Words, words, words. The ones I think, the ones I am thinking, about her. She has been the only person I have spoken to, but not through these-forms of written language. Language is bordered and hesitant, probably a trickster if you hear it from me. Words and I, we go way back, before even the tiniest bacterium swam the seas. (You wouldn’t believe how talkative trees are) People, they are fairly new to us, but it is quite an achievement for her, being the only human I’ve ever spoken to. And my, did she have a lot to say
“So, Fawn. What would you never do? Like, do it on a dare.” Her name, Fawn, was a disgrace, and a burden. Fawns were weak and timid; innocent. She would never be a fawn. Slamming her fist on the table she shared with the boy, Fawn probed his beady eyes.
“My name is Fae, and you will call me that! You are a stupid fool! A stupid, ignorant fool!” Her voice had a bitter edge, a silent slash which everyone wanted to control. Control. Humans seek it, the power, the fame, the glory. If only they stood back, laid eyes on the wasteland, their home. I did not speak to the girl that night or that year, but as she stormed away from the table and her dining hall, she whispered into the inky black sky, to the stars outside.
“The one thing I will never do is stay silent.” If only Fae knew, if only she knew that speaking, the yelling-their opposite could solve problems. Sometimes, all you had to do was listen. And listening is the hardest form of communication.
A year later
A dimly lit room. Some facility. A girl, the crescent moon, and her lonely words.
“What do you want from this new moon?” Silence. “Fawn?” The girl, Fae, didn’t answer, because the words didn’t come. Not like they used to. Clean, flowing, smoothed. Now there was only a bittersweet pause, time to hear the soft thrum of a machine in the distance. Could loss blind you? Fae thought this as she felt blood rushing up and down her veins. There was always blood; blood and pain. She liked it, preferred the blinding, the blood to shield her, but not the silence. Words were the only thing she could count on.
Fae felt the woman’s eyes on her, and though the room was dark, she saw the woman’s neon clothes illuminating in the pitch-black. Maybe that was why her name was Bright.
“We might take you to Luminari where the other children are.” I’ve taken many likings to the city myself, with the dazzling lights, speeding hovercrafts; it was probably the best city-dwelling I have visited in all of the North Sanctum.
“I will be staying in my parents’ home until Laboring #3 has passed.” The woman, Bright, sighed at Fae’s words as if she knew that Fae would speak like this.
“The Labors-at least, the past three, the fights are ones which nobody returns from. Not even the chosen ones. I can’t have you go through this alone Fawn-not any child.”
The words didn’t come for the child, even as she packed her bags, blew a kiss to her parents’ framed photo on the wall, and sullenly waved goodbye to the home she’d known for all 14 moons of her life. And the new moon. Bright asked her question, her first question again, and Fae tried to force the words out. What do you want from this new moon?
“I will take a vow of silence until my parents come home.”
You see, just because I’m the notion of silence doesn’t mean I am opposed entirely to language’s ways. But, now that I’ve gotten close to her, I seem to connect reoccurrences, often from her youth; and though it would control her nature-Fae wasn’t lying underneath the garish full moon. Before in my younger days, I would’ve observed this as bravery, and perhaps it was, or maybe it was a subtle shard of fear working its way into her skin.
The two branches of silence. 1. staying silent to avoid situations or to cut and run from them. 2. Staying silent to listen.
“Fawn...Leroy?” Fae didn’t do as much as a nod or correct the overly tall man in khaki pants that her name was Fae, not Fawn. She held her tears back, controlled her fists from slamming against the tall man’s nose. All she had seen of Luminari was a steady stream of cars rolling along the highway. Bright wouldn’t allow Fae to take more than a short glimpse of the city, drawing the windows shut and addressing herself as Brit to anyone who cared to ask her name in the ghostly train. The train wasn’t like the ones Fae was accustomed to. Back home, there were low, squat booths that clunked on rails, while these seemed to hover slightly, speeding faster than the hovercrafts.
“Fawn?” Bright had leaned over to check on the girl who indeed, hadn’t spoken the whole ride. Curtly, Fae nodded to the man in khakis and followed him off the train, directly into a building. She turned around sharply, ignoring the woman who took her from her home, who cast the new moon a dim future.
“Here are the beds. Your room is 290b.” The man, Mr. Fallow, handed Fae the keys to a small, but comfy room overlooking the rest of Luminari. The space, the whole building rather, reminded Fae of her school. The all too familiar dining hall, clunky classrooms, and wide-berthed hallways threatened to send her dinner back up. Slowly, Mr. Fallow eased the door shut, pausing before heading for the elevator.
“Be sure to check out the maps and guides in your room.”
Fawn Leroy’s reaction to Luminari: Through the window, she saw a galaxy stemming out from tall, wide buildings, splashes of the sky in the dirt. More people than ever in her lifetime roaming the narrow pathways. She thought she could easily blend in with all the people.
Fae was tired. When she pulled her eyes from the window, a sudden urge to speak overwhelmed her. To speak, something she had longed for the whole day. So, as the moon dropped into the night, she forced her aches down, remembering to place the guides and maps carefully on her bedside, where she would memorize them tomorrow. In time, maybe, she wondered if she could find a place for herself here, in Luminari. Her parents were probably dead in the battle. Labors never ended, the road to her village swollen by the train tracks. Fae would never stop hoping for escape, and these thoughts made her swell up in shame as she slept.
The first time I met Fawn Leroy was in a dream, but not this dream. Tonight, a shower of rose petals rained down from above, her firm hands gripping words, her lost words. Her lost parents, her lost words, her lost home, and tears. Even the tears were gone, and the only thoughts which lingered were ones of escape.
“Miss Fawn? Are you sure you want all your meals delivered here? The others would love the welcome you and were watching a documentary of Luminari-”
Today she knows, and it will be today. Fae hadn’t spoken for the last week, each syllable of silence taking effort. Mr. Fallow wouldn’t be hearing from her. Instead, he quietly opened the door and laid three plastic-wrapped packages on the table. Fae didn’t wait until he rumbled down an elevator-she started her plan immediately. Two twine ropes, the meals, spare change, and her burlap bag. Tomorrow, she’d be long gone. According to the guide and design plan, there was a janitor’s closet with a hovercraft and stairs to the front gates. As Fae mused over her routine one last time, a thump echoed from behind her. Suddenly, a girl appeared out of nowhere, the door to Fae’s room wide open. Taking notice of Fae’s materials, she smiled wryly.
“That’s the plan with the janitor’s closet, right? Hovercraft, rope for swinging around the camera-you pull them, they disable. Nice try sweetheart, but that’s not going to work.”
Fae’s eyes lit up in shock, at the girl who so easily sauntered into her room with the double-locked doors and her casual remarks. It was her only chance to escape, maybe hitch a ride outside Luminari to her parents, the holdings. Someone, someone would know where they were. The plan was her life-Fae's plan to the lost words-her mother and father, the war.
“Don’t talk much, I suppose. Anyway, I got a bruise and a loss of time from trying that one out myself. I’ll bet that guide doesn’t mention much about the tasered guards.”
Fae lowered her burlap sack, twine, and guide, defeated.
“My name’s Woe, by the way. I know, the name is depressing, but I’m stuck with it. Woe is me.”
This time, Woe scooted a little closer to Fae, their shoulders almost knocking together. Fae realized that she could listen to her ragged breathing, and liked Woe’s warmth. She hurt all over, hurt and hurt and hurt, but Woe understood. There was no need for words.
They sat like that for a while, huddled close, friendship blooming. For the first time in weeks, Fae felt secure. She felt happiness.
“Tomorrow, is it okay if I come back here? You don’t need to meet the other kids, they’re all jerks.”
And even my lips let forth a smile as I had watched Fae nod. Once, twice, then three times.
My favorite drawing was the chalk pastel deer. Fae had been making them-the sculptures, colors, twisted wire images of almost anything. Framed peach pit. Bathing in slathery sun. Luminari. A flower for Woe. All made in a little over two months. They made clay, stole the edges of pastel from offices. There was hardly a need for talking. Woe laughed and wrote letters to fake addresses. Fae communicated through her pieces. Each night, the roses came. Each night, I didn’t speak to her. Not yet, but it would come soon. A girl, her friend, the broken language, birthed art, and her deer.
Fae hadn’t spoken, not to me, not to Woe, not to herself when nobody was watching. Sometimes, in the hours that passed by alone, Fae wondered what her voice sounded like. Did it change? Did she change? She had no reason to speak anymore. Occasionally, she would write and wave to Mr. Fallow when he brought the meals up-but she never visited the dining hall or went outside.
Woe had pushed aside the art and pastel and wire for a minute, leaning over the bed, getting up to look in the closet.
“Have you ever looked in here?”
She asked, pointing to the walk-in space filled with clothes Fae had never seen or worn, so Fae shook her head no and then hurried to join Woe, watching as she stared into a mirror. Fae observed her reflection closely and watched Woe’s reflection too.
For a second, she thought they could be sisters with their long curls and bony frames. Past the mirror, Fae noticed another thing; a door. Woe immediately pushed it open to reveal the sun glistening over their heads, a deck overlooking the wide cityscape. How long had it been since she felt the sun against her small back? Luminari looked even bigger today, and even when Woe left to eat downstairs, Fae stood, unmoving under the widespread of stars. She had come to see it as a sort of canvas. And yes, dear reader, it was today, curled up underneath the canvas of stars, that Fawn Leroy met me, in the embrace of her dreams.
I live in people’s dreams. They don’t usually visit me, but I visit them. Sometimes, I eased their pains. Other times, I relieved them. I carried their souls to the skies. In people’s dreams, language usually comforts them first. We used to have races, when we were young.
“Hello.” She asked, the wide berth of flowing green grasses around her, expecting her usual dream of rose petals.
“Hello.” I had responded back, curiously peering out my window. Usually, when people met me, it was their time, or they were feeling lost. My curiosity hadn’t lasted long when I didn’t hear a response, and I continued setting the table, washing dishes, and well, whatever else I was doing that day.
“Um, am I dreaming? Because this looks like a barn stable in the middle of a pond.” I had nearly slipped on my own two feet, trying to clean up the sopping mess inside the house. Then, I figured I should let the person in, at least for a little while. There was always the possibility that I myself was dreaming, but I never slept.
“Come in, child.” I offered her a seat at my table. She went down and started eating the leftover ham and cheese sandwich. “What’s your name?” I drew the words out, secretly pinching my side.
“Fawn Leroy. God, it feels good to speak again. But please, call me Fae.”
“Hello, Fae. I’m silence. I forgot what my last name is...maybe Peterson, or lily.” She had said it felt good to speak again. Fae had known she was dreaming, but still, she spoke to me. I started coughing-unlike her-I hadn’t spoken to anyone in centuries, let alone any human child.
“I need some advice.” She paused before asking her question. “How...how do you move on from something you can’t move on from?”
The Labors. Ah, the Labors. The wars with the spirits. I suddenly knew exactly why she was here. “Fae. You just don’t move on.” It seemed pointless to go in circles or pace the room, so I sat down beside the girl.
“But I made a vow that I’d never speak until they came home. That I’d remember them.” Language. I saw it spiraling around her. She could weave the words, control them, speckle them with stars.
“Staying silent...isn’t always the solution...at least, the way you phrase the term. The first type of silence is staying silent to hide. You can’t hide if you want to find them. Try, try listening. Stay silent to listen. Never stay silent, if you have something to say.” Me, the advice-giver. I had centuries of experience, yet I never was the advice person. That was the language's job.
And Fae smiled at me. “Thank you.”
So we sat there, listening to the songs and birds and whistles of the grass. It was perfect until I had seen Fae’s tears.
“Come here.” I had told her, gently taking her hand in mine. I had pressed my finger into her forehead and located her parents.
“They’re in Grover’s Forest?” Fae’s words had bubbled with excitement and a slight pang of disappointment. “But what about Woe? I can’t leave her.” I sighed, a little too lazily, and shrugged.
“I don’t make the rules here. Go and find them Fae.”
What makes a good person? Well, go ask Fawn Leroy. She might have some tips for you. and, if you’ve been interested in a chat, I’m still here.
It’s been a month. She is coming, and she is learning fast. This may be the end of her story, but I’m not going anywhere, so I might have more space in me to tell. I know, I’m very generous. After Fae, I may start believing in the good of humankind, though it will take a long time to foster that trust-but for now, let’s end at the end of her dream.
Fae had woken that night under a sunrise. Her hair flew about her in a mystical sort of way. Fantasies chased away her fear. She could feel the feet under her, the buzz of hovercrafts, and the smell of mid-morning dew. Pressing her face as close to the sun as she could get, a single sentence escaped her lips.
“I will listen.”