The moon was waning as she looked up at it, imploring; dark eyes full of crystalline tears. “Please…”
The wind teased at her long ebony hair and she shivered down to the depths of her soul. She had heard the moon before; why was it silent now, of all times? The trees chattered and gossiped about why the strange girl had returned to this spot on the mountaintop, where her mother had died not more than 18 years previously. “Please, Mama Quilla, the sun will return soon and I cannot go back until you have spoken to me.” The wind howled with laughter and the girl sat patiently with her heels digging into the dirt. She had two hours until the sun began to rise, as the moon was only just beginning to slouch onto the horizon.
“Speak, mortal girl.”
She looked up again. She looked at the trees and listened again for the sudden ethereal voice. “Mama Quilla?”
“I heard you.”
She began to sob with relief but had to talk, for her life was somewhat dependent on this discourse. “Oh Mama Quilla, thank you so-”
“Don’t thank me until I know what it is you want me to do.”
She cleared her throat. “Of course, Mama. I have been told by my father that I must marry and be happy with the most powerful man in the village. But another holds my heart in his palms in such a way that it swiftly turns to clay, able to be molded instantly to his will. This is the man I wish to marry and be happy with.”
The moon was silent again, and slouched into the side of a nearby mountaintop, before her ethereal voice boomed, “You should listen to your father, young child.”
“But I love another!” The girl began to fight back tears of fear and guilt; “The man my father wants me to marry is jealous; cruel, callous, and vicious. He believes that only the strong may survive, that the weak would perish- that isn’t who I wish to love- I can’t- I won’t love someone who is so cold and heartless.” She hesitated, “What would he do to our children? Children are weak when they are born. I would be weak after the children are born.”
The moon heaved a heavy sigh and sat back up, slightly straighter. “You will be happy and protected with this man, yes. I can see it- marriage is a function of practicality, little mortal. Not borne of love. Your children would be safe with this man, I can see he cares too much for himself to allow them harm, even if they are weak.”The girl kept looking up at the moon, tears brimming over her eyelashes. the moon sighed again. “… I can see that you will not leave until I have granted you your wish. Are you sure the future with your love is what you want?” There was something cold in the moon’s voice that evening- something the girl below could not have known.
“The shaman said that you could- could change things- and make things right? Can you really do this, Mama Quilla?”
The moon shone slightly brighter. “Indeed. But I warn you, child, four lives will be created and four ruined if this is done, in your name. My magic is a powerful and terrible thing- the push and pull of existence must be at all times adhered to. And always there is a price.”
“I love this man. I will pay any price.”
“Even your firstborn child?”
The girl blinked. “What?”
“That is the price of my magic.”
The girl put no thought into her assent as she yelled out- “Yes, yes I will do this for you, Mama Quilla. What you want with a child of flesh is your own business and I shall respect that- if only you would grant my wish.”
The moon smiled sadly down at her. “Go home, and you shall see that it is done.”
The girl wept and leapt with joy. “Oh, thank you, Mama! Thank you so much!” Her heart swelled with love and relief.
“Do not forget our agreement, little girl.”
“I won’t! I promise I won’t! I swear on… On… Why, this very agreement that has saved my life, I shall swear on that!”
The girl left several offerings of food and chicha, and happily started back down the mountain. The moon scooped them up and whispered to the trees sadly, “Anyone who would sacrifice their child for the sake of not being to one they themselves don’t love, must surely not care for their children very much.”
The wind laughed louder as the girl began to descend down the mountainside.
The girl was too occupied with her thoughts of her lover to pay attention as it began to sing,
‘A fool is he who doesn’t understand
The story we must tell
About the moon’s hand
About the mortal that fell.’
It whistled as it lapped at the girl’s cheek; still she didn’t notice the singing that now surrounded her as she danced down the pathway back to the village.
‘Moon, you want to be a mother
Because you couldn’t find a lover
And this foolish girl could never know
The seeds she is sure to sow.’