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shot – The Lake and the Moon
♠ 30 Virgo 11, Frigg's Day ♣

Shot – The Lake and the Moon
300911 / Merrily, yours.

“Water falls,” she says.

It was a childish prank, played by a child.

Next to the road to the capital, the mirrored water of the lake reflects the light of the crescent moon. The wind gently blows, ripples and waves lapping upon the shore.

Upon that shore, a tea house sits, weathered wood offering shelter and food to the travellers going to and away from the capital. There is a bustle here, at this hour, after evening has faded to night, before bones become too weary for companionship.

As the capital is the heart of the world, the tea house is the heart of the village, and it is here the men come, after the fishing is done, the wood is gathered, the hunting is over.

Here then, here, at the edge of the light and the laughter of the tea house, upon the shore with the lapping waves, a small girl stands crying.

It was a childish prank, played by a child.

One side of the tea house is built over the lake. The fish, still alive, caught earlier in the day would be lowered in cages; each wooden cell opened by the lifting of a knob, thereby lifting the side of the cage attached to that knob.

An order would come for a fish - broiled or fried or steamed - and the cook’s assistant would pull out one of the cages, carry it away from the lake, place it upon the ground, lift up the wall of the cage, then, with practised hand, grab hold of the struggling, threshing fish, beat its head against the floor, just the once.

The cook’s assistant had found the child, lying flat upon the floor, her face pressed against the rails overlooking the lake. He had walked to the rails to look over them and he had seen the long stick she held in her outstretched hand, seen where the wood split at the end of her stick as she lifted it out of the water. He had yelled out. He had pulled her up by the scruff of her neck.

Her mother had come, deeply unhappy, her face drawn with the scowl of exhausted displeasure. “Not again,” the scowl said. “Stay here till your father comes to pick you up,” the disapproving voice said. “I am sick of having to deal with your nonsense,” the undercurrent of the disapproving voice said.

It was a childish prank, played by a child.

Now, right now, her father is in there, as she stands looking at the lapping waters. Her father had come, an hour ago, had done no more than look at her, shake his head. She had glanced at him, plaintive and pleading; “I’m sorry,” her eyes had said, “take me away.” She had watched him apologise to the cook. The cook had been angry, then not-angry, then, perhaps, a little sad, a flow of emotion drawn out from an emotionless man by the snivelling apology of her father. The cook had guided her father to a table, brought him a drink, patted him on the shoulder. The cook had looked at her, shook his head. Her father sits there now, looking out at the waters, not looking at her.

It was a childish prank, played by a child.

The maiden tells this story to the man she had first met just this night, beneath the gaze of the crescent moon.

She stands at the spot just on the edge of the light and life of the tea house, on the shore of the lake, looking out upon the waters, on this, a night like the night in the story.

The man had come, had stood by her, had seen the same scene she saw; but the lake did not mean the same thing to the man as it did to the maiden.

It starts with small talk, presumably, because that’s what strangers do. But the hours had passed and he had not left, and neither had she, and they had gone from standing to sitting upon the hard earth, and then she is telling him the story of how she had witnessed a small girl let the fishes go. “It was a childish prank, played by a child.”

“But not to the child.”

She turns to him; he is looking out upon the waters, upon the sliver of the moon upon the rippling waves. “What makes you say that?”

“The stick.”

“…”

“You make it sound like this is the act of a playful child, whose parents are frustrated with her. A childish prank, you say. But it is not simple to find a stick long enough, with a fork at the end, in order to hook the knob to open the cage.”

“You think she thought it through? That she planned it?”

“How could she not? How could it be random whimsy? She went out and she found a stick so she could go and rescue the fish.”

The maiden turns back to the waters, and they sit there, in silence. She thinks about how she had told this story before, to a few others, though not many, yet no one else had thought it to be anything more than the prank she said it was.

And then she says: “I am to marry a man next month. A weak, feckless man.”

He turns to her; she is looking out upon the waters. Her eyes, perhaps, are shiny, reflecting the moon as the lake does.

She shakes her head. “I don’t know why I said that.”

She points to the sliver of the moon in the centre of the lake. “The water is still. And the moon in the lake is as the moon in the sky. The wind comes, and the reflection ripples, and the moon in the lake is revealed to be no more than a false moon. But the moon, the moon itself, it does not know, it does not care.”

“Is that what you see? Falsehood? An uncaring light over an uncaring world?”

“What else is there to see? Like the girl. She saves five fish, but the day after, and the day after that, more fish are caught. For a moment, she made the world better, but the wind comes, and that better world is revealed as a lie. The moon merely looks on; we cannot catch it, we cannot change it. For a brief moment, we can be like the moon, but only until the wind comes. You cannot save all the fish.”

He turns to look at her, the maiden with her shiny eyes. “You cannot save all the fish. But you can save one. I am sure there are other stories about the lake and the moon.”

“Tell me the story.”

But the man doesn’t know any stories.

The mother tells this story to her young son.

They stand at the spot just on the edge of the light and life of the tea house, on the shore of the lake, looking out upon the waters, on this, a night like the night in the story, and in the story within that story.

“I know the man’s story.”

His mother laughs. “Do you?”

“Yes,” the boy says, all seriousness, as children can be.

“Tell me the story.”

“You didn’t say ‘please’.”

“Please tell me the story, little man.”

He nods with solemnity, then he begins, his voice taking on the cadence of one reciting from memory: “Once there was a fish who had been caught. There was a kind girl who let the fish go. The fish was very grateful for this and decided it had to repay the girl, but it was only a fish.

“So the fish swam and swam, it swam from the lake into the river, from river into the sea, until it came to the palace of the Dragon of the Eastern Sea. It asked of the Dragon, who was old and wise, how could a simple fish repay the great debt it owed. The Dragon told the fish it had to swim to a waterfall and at the top of the waterfall the fish would find its answer.

”The fish swam and swam, it swam back to the lake, up the river, swam till it reached the waterfall. The fish swam up the waterfall. But, because it was only a fish, and fishes are not meant to swim up waterfalls, it fell back into the river, and it was swept away until it reached the lake.

“The fish kept trying. Night after night, as the moon changes from crescent to full and back again, the fish kept trying. It grew bigger, and stronger, through the seasons, through the years. It waits until the moon is above the waterfall, and it keeps the light of the moon in its sight as it swims, trying always, to swim up the waterfall to the light of the moon.

“And then one night, after years and years of never giving up, it finally swarm up the bridge across the sky. The fish gained magic powers, and this was how it managed to repay the girl who had given it back its life.”

“How do you know this story?”

“Daddy tells it to me, sometimes, when it’s his turn to put me in bed.”

“He never told me this story.”

“You can ask him to. He calls it the story of How a Fish Swam Up a Waterfall to Fall for a Girl.”

The young man tells this story to the pretty girl.

They stand at the spot just on the edge of the light and life of the tea house, on the shore of the lake, looking out upon the waters, on this, a night like the night in the story, and in the stories within that story.

“And that is why our tea house on the lake does not serve fish.”

The pretty girl curls her fingers into his, drops her head upon his shoulder. “She rescues a fish, and the fish rescues her?”

“Pretty much. A childish prank, played by a child.”

“But not to the girl.”

“But not to the fish.”


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18 Pisces 14, Tyr's Day
shot – The Weaver’s Daughter
[ ]
13 Leo 13, Tyr's Day
(shot – The Lake and the Moon)
[ ]
30 Virgo 11, Frigg's Day
Witch-Girl – Standard Barroom Information Gathering Scene
[ ]
13 Libra 15, Tyr's Day
Witch-Girl / Tempest Eyes – An Easter Story
[ ]
06 Aries 15, Moon's Day
Octobear: The Candyland War
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01 Libra 15, Thor's Day
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I seek refuge in the Lord of the Dawn
From the evil of what He has created;
From the evil of the utterly dark night when it falls;
From the evil of malignant witchcraft;
And from the evil of the envious when he envies.