The Fragility of Moonlit Skin

Submitted into Contest #92 in response to: Write about a character who thinks they have a sun allergy.... view prompt


Gay Lesbian

My parents have long said that I am in sisterhood with the moon, luminescing against the crisp, charred black of the night-fallen sky. My entire family is wrapped in cooked skin tones, like colors of the fertile earth, painted from their temples to the very tips of their toes in patches of brown; but my flesh lives a distinct life—a shivering white like the stark sheets of snow I have seen in picture books. It ends not with my skin. The porcelain hue seeps into the follicles of my coiled hair, slithering from my scalp to the space of my lashes, of my brows. Below them sit my eyes, the irises delicately splashed with tints of milky pink.

My birth was arduous and burning, and upon my arrival the moon doused my sickly frame with her light, so my parents named me Kamaria, meaning beauty of the moonlight. I was canvas without paint.

When you are distinct as I am, foreign and otherworldly in ways that people find fascinating, you do not live. You are preserved, like bloomed rose encased in a suffocating resin. Fearing for the fragility of my skin, a color the town had never laid eyes upon before, my parents confined me to the safety behind our sturdy house walls. The sun would not rip away the gift that the moon had bestowed them, it would not boil my bright flesh beneath its unrelenting rays. I would not know morning. I persisted this way for twenty years, only appearing under the shield of moonlight, soft and delicate and forever nonthreatening, a sister to me and my drained color.

Come nightfall, I would go forth towards Azemal square, gliding through the marketplace and ignoring the whispers of the mischievous late-night children who had relegated me to ghost story. She is a phantasm they would say, do not look into her dead eyes, or she will drain the tones of your skin, she’ll feed on your color and you’ll be blank as bone! They would scatter like bugs, relishing in the fright of the moonlit lady. I did not mind this; it was the pitiful drawn about looks of the adults that I did not care for. How sorry they were to see a beautiful woman so debilitated by her circumstances of birth, how inclined they were to feel a glooming solicitude. Pity never solved anything, but it mattered not. I was not here for them.

I merrily strode up to the market wagon that rode into town not more than four months prior, brimming with wares of wood, steel, and gem for the purposes of most anything one might imagine. On the furthermost wall, dangling from shelves and propped against corners, laid various weapons—polished daggers, serrated arrows, and the like. Elaborate silken fabrics and jewelry, which laid upon velveteen pillows, occupied the left side, prominently featuring topazes, for their shimmer danced beautifully against the dark skin of the townspeople. Crafted kitchenware took the front, along with assortments of decorative vases, wooden figurines, and potent elixirs. I’d memorized the intricate layout with all my frequents, especially what laid at the very center: the traveling merchant, Jayde.

Her hair fell at her back in woven braids, cuffed with rings of gold near her temples. Her face was broad like my mother’s, her eyebrows faint, but most compelling of all was her glistering smile, like stars nestled between her gums. It was bright as my skin, the first time I’d ever seen something so lucent in person aside from the very moon.

My habitual presence was not lost on Jayde, as she teased my arrival at every visit to her wagon. Have you such a need for more vases? You cannot possibly wear as much jewelry as you’ve bought. Is it me? Am I what’s so interesting? I’d said perhaps so, and she smiled brightly. In that case, stay a little while longer.

My face chose color at her words, something I did not think it capable of. Pink. I felt an elation.

“Welcome back, Moonshine. You leave little for the rest of the townspeople,” she said.

My cheeks swelled, something I could scarcely hide. “They have plenty of shops to peruse in the daytime,” I said, rolling an amethyst adorned necklace between my fingers, “let these wares be my sanctuary.”

“Being a night merchant has its perks, I see. I am graced by you. How jealous the others must be.” We laughed together, and I purchased several clay mugs, stuffing them carefully into my sack as she closed shop and we walked to the fountain at the center of town.

We made a ritual of this, eating bread and cheese under the glow of the lamp posts. Sometimes Jayde bought coconut pastries for us to share, warm and crunchy with soft centers. I’d bring her some of my mother’s pudding, who had been elated at my connection with another person. Jayde observed me as we sat, our bellies filling.

“You are beautiful. Do you hear this often?” she hummed. Her voice was honey, and so my skin buzzed.

“Only from family.”

“Do you believe it?”

“I feel they say it more for themselves than for me.”

She huffed. “I say it for you and no one else, so that you may believe.”

I met her gaze, self-assured and sweetly firm. It swallowed me whole, holding tight in an intimacy I did not know. I was foreign to eye contact, for people did not wish to see what lied behind a woman who’d lived only in increments of night, blind to the caress of sunrise. But Jayde was absent of fear, of pity, and looked into me with a confidence that I felt I might burn to cinders, her eyes searing like the sun I’d feared my entire life, yet I could not pull away. I felt alive.

“I believe you,” I said. She pressed her hand to mine then looked up to the sky, eyes closed. I chewed quietly, my heart filling.

“I depart in three days.”


“I am a traveling merchant, Kamaria. My last night in Azema will be upon us soon. I want you to come with me.”

I dropped my loaf of bread, and it rolled between our feet. “You say this knowing I cannot leave.”

“What holds you back?”

“How could I possibly accompany you when I am so frail, skin said to catch flame?”

 Jayde shook her head, the gold of her earrings jangling. She took both of my hands in hers, holding them close to her chest and flashing her white smile. “You are not weak! You are the strongest person I know, living in this town of whispers and fear, under the forever night. Let us go away. Let us touch the sun.”

“I haven’t the courage to even peek out my window in the morning, you are mistaken!”

“Being scared does not mean you are not strong. I will be with you. You’ve never even tried to feel the sun, how do you know it is hostile?”

I’d pondered it before. She spoke things I myself had thought, but from her lips they felt abrasive. They felt world shattering, and even still, they felt like a soft outreach into the light. I bit my lip, ripped between the line of night and day. I feared for myself, but I knew well that I had not lived. In my twenty years I had not lived a single day. I returned her smile, feeling the warmth within me flutter and carry me off. I would go. She howled with glee.

In the following days, I put my belongings in order and assuaged the fears of my family—a strange ordeal seeing as my own fears were still lingering. Mother was saddened but full of hope, and father insisted I write letters of my adventures. My sisters and cousins tugged at my dress, at my sleeves, making their souvenir wishes known. I did not tell them of my plans to venture into the light of day. They saw me off on the final day as I climbed into Jayde’s wagon, riding off into the fields far from town. I could see it in the distance, growing small and feeling like a dream I’d conjured in twenty years of deep slumber.

Jayde spoke to me loudly from outside the wagon as she manned the horse pulling us forward. I remained inside and could not respond much as my voice was smaller than hers, undetectable among the bustle of the wares moving about and the clopping of the horse, but still she spoke, a conversation all to herself. Her attempt at easing my nerves, I assumed. I played with the silks and took to mother’s chocolate pudding for comfort. I could see the faint glow of morning peeking from the curtains of the wagon, and I gasped. My heart thudded against my ribcage. 

“Sunrise!” Jayde sang, “come join me, Moonshine! Come see. Come look.”

My stomach stirred, Mother's pudding betraying me from inside. I stepped forward, pulling back the curtain with a trembling hand. I felt a warmth upon my skin as Jayde looked back at me, eyes sparkling. I shielded my face, eyes stinging, recoiling a bit at the flowering of light over the clouds. Emerging further with reluctance, tears pricked at my eyes, my lungs filling with a morning air, dewy and fragile.

Rays of sun pricked at my skin, my pores ablaze with a soft and tender sizzle that alarmed me, but only for a moment. The warm beams traced their fingers over me, hugging me close. A bubble escaped my lips, surprising me as it bounced through the air, persisting. Laughter, I was laughing with a force that shook my whole body and turned my face hot. My abdomen ached and I wept, my cheeks stuck in a grin, throwing my arms up to the clouds. Jayde laughed then too, and I felt myself float.

The rays of the sun shone brightly upon the canvas of my skin, painting it shades of orange and gold. I was alive, and I was undeniably beautiful, my skin enveloped in warmth.

May 06, 2021 19:28

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Rayney Day
20:32 May 07, 2021

This is so beautiful. Your descriptions are so perfectly detailed, so that they are not tedious but just give you that little bit of insight. Some of my favourites: "You are preserved, like bloomed rose incased in a suffocating resin." However, I think you mean encased. “I say it for you and no one else, so that you may believe.” THIS. Fulfilled my hunger for true, honest romance. "They felt world shattering, and even still, they felt like a soft outreach into the light." I've looked for a way to put this feeling into words for years, and y...


E. B. Bullet
20:02 May 11, 2021

Wait what? Where did my reply go? LMAO I could have sworn I left one! Omg well I'm very grateful for your sweet comment, thank you thank you for taking the time to write it!! I fixed the word "encased" haha. I'm glad you enjoyed my story, I'm a sucker for the gay stuff.


Rayney Day
20:06 May 11, 2021

i loved all of it<3


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Echo Sundar
17:15 May 11, 2021

Wow! This is an amazing story! The descriptions are so vivid they pull you right in. It was a great read!


E. B. Bullet
19:59 May 11, 2021

Thank you so much, I'm happy you enjoyed it !


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