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Earth and Sun, Moon and Stars

by Rudi Dornemann

Great Aunt Marion's daughter has been selling the land off lot by lot since the early 90's. Fortunately, there isn't a house on the prescribed spot -- not much anyone can do with a ravine that steep and muddy. Which is good, since the will is very detailed and very clear that we have follow Marion's instructions exactly.

We had to climb over a fence, but we're used to that from past years. I turned around by habit, soon as I was over, caught the bag of masks Annette threw over. Roy caught the bundle of robes.

Glenna tapped her watch. We started up the leaf-crunching path.

The cauldron was still there; which was good, since it had been a hassle lugging it in the first year after the fence.

I always plan to review my lines for weeks ahead of time. I never wind up reading it until the night before, and stay up late cramming. It works. Once we start, the words just flow.

On the drive up, Roy passed around a script he found online, a different version than the one in the yellow-paged paperbacks Marion left us. The words seemed pretty much the same, some phrases a little old-fashioned and too poetic. The illustrations showed the moon short like Glenna, like Marion, while the sun had Annette's height and her way of looking elegant even robed and masked. Our books just had words.

Glenna nodded at the exact moment of sunset.

"I wait, invisible," said Roy. It's a good thing he just stands in the cauldron and doesn't go anywhere, since his mask is a silver-speckled black plate, with no holes even for his eyes.

"In the west, I lay down, " said Annette, crouching with a swirl of velvet.

"While I, in the east, stand up," said Glenna. She mimed her arms in a crescent like the internet woodcut.

I had a frozen, mind-blank moment, like I always do, then the words came off my tongue, reliable as ever: "The spheres reel in motion, but I am still. I watch all, and nod slumberward."

Not the usual words, I realized, but the new/old internet version.

"Damn," said Glenna.

The cauldron cracked with a sound like a gong, and Roy was gone. We heard car alarms, dogs howling, and people shouting in all those new houses. Above us, the sky was full of unfamiliar stars.

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