Word Count 500
The Shadow Remains
By B.A. Sarvey
By the time they reached the glade leading to Luna’s village, they all knew, through tales of his exploits, how Meme had treasured and taught a spirited Guff; Howard confided Dragnos were solitary by nature, and he still feared confrontation; Luna admitted she was headstrong but didn’t always know the best path. Luna translated the moths’ ideas about sacrifice: it didn’t matter how small or short-lived a creature was, its contribution was as important as anyone’s.
“But we still don’t know what better thing you found, Guff.”
“Of course you do,” he replied, his smile crooking from one ear to the other.
“I think G…guff means us, L…luna.”
Guff stopped, bowed. “Well done, Howard!”
“I thought maybe Meme was the better thing.”
“You and Meme are equally important,” he said. “She knew my purpose. You helped me fulfill it. What could be better than that?”
“Reuniting with your birth-mother?” Luna asked.
“I feel nothing for her. No hate. Yet, no longing. What happened, happened.”
Suddenly, the sky darkened. Small whirlwinds twisted across the dell, flinging sticks and dirt everywhere. Guff sheltered Luna. A split second of lightning illuminated them and Howard, whose wings protectively encompassed the moths. A whirring buzz, like locusts swarming, then silence. Just as suddenly, all was as it had been. Except for a niggling sense of unease. A shadow had been cast over their high spirits, unabated by Guff’s quip about a spectacular welcome.
The group moved apart. Howard spread his wings. Hesitantly, the moths fluttered, waiting for Luna’s signal, then ventured through the trees leading to her settlement. They soon returned.
“That can’t be,” Luna declared, visibly agitated by their mute communications. She strode through a gap in the trees and out of sight.
“W…what are you w…waiting for?” A slight tremble moved along Howard’s wings. “We m…must stay together.” Glancing back at Guff, he followed Luna. Guff quickly caught up.
As they entered what should have been the village, they saw Luna on the ground, beneath the heap of her loden cloak, hands grasping at undisturbed grasses. “Where?” she keened. “Where are they?”
“Have we come to the right place?”
“P…perhaps we are l…lost.”
“No,” moaned Luna. “My clan. Not us. My clan is lost. Vanished.”
Taking in the expanse of grassy paths meandering among stands of saplings and scrub, Guff, though foreign here, knew nothing was right about the scene. “How?” he asked.
“It’s as though nobody has ever lived here. Animals, perhaps. No people. My family—gone.” Luna sobbed.
They heard nearby river waters cascading over rocks, but saw no evidence of flooding—or anything else—that could explain a village vanished. Not only were the people gone, but no huts, no cooking-pits, no cloth or trinkets were to be found. Then, one moth flew to Luna, a pale green ribbon gripped by its spiny legs.
Luna stroked its satiny softness against her tear-streaked cheek. She rose resolutely, shook leaves from her cloak, breathed deeply. “Today, we rest. Tomorrow, we consult Meme.”