Volume 5 Number 3
Even as a young girl, Anjiya loved to collect shiny objects. She gathered bits of pearl, broken coral, and polished stones flecked with silver from the playground of her ocean floor. She would weave her newfound trinkets into belts or bracelets, or string them into her hair. Often she would spend whole afternoons sorting through her piled treasures, mesmerized by the play of gleaming light as it drifted and spun, prism-like, throughout the water garden of her home.
It wasn't until her thirteenth birthday, though, that Anjiya discovered the shiniest object of all.
On that day, her sisters brought her out of the shadowy realm of the deeper waters for the first time. Anjiya was thrilled to see the many new and marvelous things that she had only heard about before. The warmth of the sun rippled its way across her skin, and she languished happily on the surface of the waves long after her siblings returned to the twilight depths of the sea. Soon it grew dark and eventually the moon rose high in the heavens: framed against the backdrop of a pitch-black night, it glowed even brighter than the sun. Anjiya cried out in delight. "You must be the moon," she said, and the moon turned and winked at her. Anjiya was so enthralled by this great shiny object that she sang out to him. Her song was the perfect mix of innocence and passion and the clear, pure notes seduced the moon right out of the sky.
When it hovered just within her reach, Anjiya plucked the moon out of the night, cradled it gently in her fingers, and carefully brought it down, down, down.
The moon gazed at all of the sea-wreathed wonders that surrounded him, but what he looked upon longest was the beautiful mermaid with the magical voice. For the first time, the moon knew love. Anjiya was just as smitten with the moon. She tucked him close to her heart, and together they slept.
In the meantime, the sun filled the spot the moon had held and marked the beginning of another day. On the shore, the land-bound folk fished in the surf and planted in the soil. Oblivious to them all, Anjiya woke and found the moon-treasure still in her arms. The moon recognized the glow of bliss in the mermaid's eyes, and he was filled with joy.
So wrapped up was each in the other that the moon forgot to return to his place in the sky.
The sun was the first to notice his absence, and she baked with rage at the moon's betrayal. Deprived of her nocturnal partner, she had no choice but to continue with her vigilant shining. Many hours passed, and on the shore, the villagers did not know what to do. Without the turn of day and night, they knew not when to work or dream, and so they slept where they stood and then woke, sunburned, as the day wore on and on. The streams ran low, and the plants began to wither away, so the men built boats and took to the ocean, seeking the moon along the horizon, where it had last been seen.
They did not think to look beneath the waves, where Anjiya and the moon celebrated their love with song and long glances and dancing heartbeats. The sun, however, spotted her counterpart in the depths of the sea. She spoke then, of dark and light, and cold and warmth, and ongoing balance. She begged the moon to return to its rightful place, and eventually the moon could no longer resist the call of the sun.
The moon embraced his mermaid lover and together they floated reluctantly upward. He kissed Anjiya long and deeply and then, with his moon-heart breaking, he left her behind. He burst through the surface of the waves with a mighty splash, and as he rose into the darkening sky, each drop of water that followed him into the night became a star. The moon, once again trapped in the spiral of time, looked down upon his love and said, "All of these stars are shining just for you."
"But you are gone," she replied. "They are not enough."
And the mermaid began to sing again. This time around, her song was of love and loss, of sadness and longing, and the men, sailing in their boats on top of the ocean, were drawn to that sound. They reached out to comfort Anjiya, and when they were well within her grasp, she cradled them in her arms and brought them down, down, down.
Each night, the mermaid rises to the surface of the water to sing to her lover. Each night, the moon cries tears of loss, and they turn into stars. Anjiya recognizes those shiny objects for just what they are: trinkets that mark the distance between her and her beloved, cold comfort only, and so she reaches out to the sailors who would readily trade their love for a song.
If she cannot have the moon, she will collect bones, instead. The piles of glistening whiteness lie scattered across the ocean floor.
And still Anjiya sings....