PRAISED BY THE MOON
An Emberlight Universe Story
By Frederick Lacroix
Ella loves the night. It’s calm, peaceful and, most importantly, devoid of people.
But tonight, something is weird, different. There’s something missing and she can’t quite put her finger on it right away.
What will Ella learn about herself before the sun comes up?
Ella walked along the rooftop, looking at the stars shining above. It was a cool summer night, a light breeze made her hair dance and carried with it the perfumes of the roses her neighbor kept in planter boxes around. It was a quiet night in the city, a few cars and the occasional truck disturbed the stillness with their loud engines. Ella loved her rooftop, and she even gave a hand to the old neighbor with the roses and the vegetables she was growing, but leaving her house was hard. People were hard. At nearly thirty years old, Ella had given up and accepted her fate as a recluse.
She sat in one of the two wooden Adirondack chairs leaning against the short wall separating her from the void between her building and the next, and looked up at the sky again.
For a moment, something bothered her, she wasn’t sure what it was, but there was a missing element to that picture. She wasn’t sure what it was, and after racking her brain for a few minutes, she almost jumped from her seat.
“No moon,” she said out loud. “There was a full moon yesterday and it’s not there tonight.”
She looked around the sky some more, trying to see if there might be clouds obscuring the moon, or if it already went down over the horizon, but she couldn’t find anything that would explain its absence.
“Just one of those things, I guess.”
“Quite right,” her old neighbor said.
Ella whipped around, surprised. She’d recognized the voice immediately, but the presence was unexpected. The old woman was standing next to the door where the stairs leading up and down the roof were located. She was immobile, also looking up at the night sky.
“Miss Marrow, you scared me,” Ella said. “Is everything all right?”
“Yes, child, everything is fine. I just couldn’t sleep, and it looked like a nice night outside. I’m sorry I frightened you.”
Ella sat back down in the chair, her heart still pumping. The old woman didn’t sound that sorry, she sounded amused. But Ella was used to the eccentric neighbor by now. Miss Marrow took a step forward, out of the shadows, and bent over to smell her flowers. There wasn’t enough light to see things clearly, but Ella thought she could see her neighbor close her eyes and smile.
“I can see why you come here at night,” the old woman said. “It’s much more peaceful.”
Miss Marrow approached Ella and sat down. Ella noticed the absence of the usual cigarette smell that seemed to precede her neighbor. And the fluid motion with which the old woman had sat down, a far cry from her usual difficulty bending down or getting up when tending to her garden. Old stories about monsters that could take the form of people and then go on a rampage flashed in Ella’s mind. They said those creatures were still around, but kept to the woods and attacked only the occasional hitchhiker, but maybe one of them had decided to come to the big city, where they could be anonymous and have an endless supply of humans to devour…
“Is everything all right, child?” Miss Marrow asked.
Ella came back to reality. She swallowed hard before nodding. “Yeah…”
Okay, there was no way a monster wouldn’t have attacker her by now. Maybe she was just feeling better today? Maybe she had some painkillers or something? Ella scooted away from the old woman subconsciously while Miss Marrow kept talking about her garden and how nights like theses were almost as good as a sunny day for her vegetables. She came back from her worries at the end of a question.