Moth Writing

by Rudi Dornemann

When his time as a student ended, they arrived at last at the night for the ceremony of the book of sand. They left at nightfall, making their way through the empty markets, past the street of leatherworkers, the street of brass-makers, out through the low, white-stucco houses of the suburbs, out into scrubland and further into desert.

In the blue hour before dawn, his teacher said they’d arrived, and had him set down the canteens and bag of bread. He sat at the foot of a dune and recited the incantations they’d practiced for weeks, and the blue hour stretched out past when the sun should have risen.

Moths came, as his teacher said they would, and skimmed over the face of the dune. In the shadows cast by the low, bright moon, the lines etched by the tips of their wings looked like words. He read there everything the moths had seen throughout the nighttime city.

He tried to remember everything so that he could turn it to his advantage — everything anyone in the city had hoped darkness would hide. The wind erased the words as he read them and more moths came with more stories.

As the hours stretched on, the cramps in the small of his back subsided. He continued reading — something in the incantation prevented him from stopping. His teacher forced water and an occasional bit of bread into his mouth. His schemes turned to compassion; he saw the struggles, behind the secrets, the troubles that unraveled in their wake. He stopped looking for ways to gain and looked for ways to help.

Still he read–it felt like days had passed, even though the blue-saturated sky hadn’t changed. His eyes crusted with sand which his teacher tried to dab away with a damp cloth, but every sentence gritted. The threads of story drew together. His schemes seemed more and more ridiculous against the enormity of its grand interweaving structure. In the life of the city, he was one more moth, observing, circling this or that moment of brightness before remembering the stars he meant to steer by. For all his knowledge, it couldn’ touch anything without ruining the whole design.

Humbled, he struggled up as dawn finally turned the sand back to mere sand and the moths fluttered off to sleep the day.

The Cabal’s third anniversary is approaching, and we’re looking for help figuring out how to celebrate, so we’re holding a contest. Click here to read the details and give us your ideas!

Be Sociable, Share!

2 Responses to “Moth Writing”

  1. David Says:

    March 9th, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    Very nicely done. I like the progression of the student from one level of understanding to the next.

  2. Rudi Dornemann Says:

    March 10th, 2010 at 12:47 am

    Thanks — glad you liked it!