Copyright © 2013 C.L. Mannarino
All rights reserved.
Once upon a time, there were two sisters named Bright and Shadow. Sister Bright ruled the day. She ruled the sun when it rose and fell, the scurry of activity, and the visible beauty of things that grow and bloom in the light. Sister Shadow ruled the night. She ruled the moon when it spun around the earth, the dreams of the creatures on earth, as well as the night activity that often ensued, and the visible beauty of things that only thrive when the moon is dark.
Every day, the sisters would go about their activities. Bright would wake the world and watch over the creatures as they hustled to accomplish their chores. Every night, Shadow would bring dreams to the creatures who slept and observe the creatures who wandered about by the light of their shining eyes.
One day, as Shadow waited for her turn to rule the night, she watched Bright going about her work.
“She makes it look so easy, so effortless,” Shadow thought to herself. “And she has such a wonderful time—she can dance in the sun and sing with the morning birds. People are awake to see her flowers and trees and they love her best when they are sunny and warm. So many more creatures come out and play during the bright, warm days than they do during the shadowed, cool nights.”
The more she watched, the more Shadow felt she ought to do something about this. She wanted to know what it was like to bask in the sun. After all of the nights when creatures had nightmares and did bad things to each other in the dark, she wanted a chance to create happier times. So, when Bright was settling down to rest among the clouds, Shadow moved in behind her and took hold of the sun. Instead of putting it aside, Shadow stayed with it, rising as it rose and falling as it fell. Behind her, she could hear the moon crying, calling for her attention, but Shadow ignored it.
“Just one night,” she promised as she helped the sun back up into the sky. “I promise. For one time, I want to be in charge of making the day.”
Day rose with Shadow in the lead. Shadow watched as the flowers opened up, people yawned and rose, and life went about its business.
Something was wrong, though. Unlike when Bright brought the day, the sky wasn’t as clear as before—it felt like someone had put a sheer white covering over a swatch of navy blue fabric. Behind every beautiful thing lurked something heavier and harder.
Even the creatures seemed to notice this. They wandered around with dark circles under their eyes, blinking and yawning in the sun. They snapped at each other and grumbled as they went about their business. Even Shadow began to feel unwell after being so close to the light for so long.
“This isn’t right. This isn’t the way Bright does it. What’s happened? Why are they acting this way?” Shadow asked out loud as she pulled the sun through the sky. Her upset and disappointment with what had happened brought heavy black rain clouds and for the rest of the day, torrential downpours fell from the sky.
As she brought the sun below the horizon, Shadow saw Bright sitting on her cloud, her arms crossed over her chest.
“What were you doing?” Bright asked, her voice hard and cold.
Shadow wiped a tear from her eye and put the sun back in her hands. Bright’s arms held it close. “I thought I could be you. Just for a day, I wanted to see all the beautiful things you get to see. I wanted to feel the sun shining, see the creatures moving about, and watch the flowers as they bloom. I wanted to forget all the ugly things I see at night and make wonderful things to see when the sun is up. You’re so lucky, getting to see those treats every day.”
Bright put the sun down on her cloud and stood up. “Yes, but you’re forgetting something—you have beauty all around you, too.”
Taking her sister’s hand, Bright picked up the moon and together, they twirled with it into the sky.
“I’m going to stand on the other side of the night,” Bright said. “When you reach me, I want you to be able to tell me three things that are beautiful about your nighttime. Notice everything that happens and let me know what you see.”
Shadow wasn’t convinced, but Bright had already walked away. Taking a deep breath, Shadow began to wander through the sky. At first, when she looked down and saw the world below, she didn’t see anything different. Creatures dreaming and wandering. Flora waving in the wind. By midnight, however, she started seeing things she hadn’t noticed before: the way the ocean seemed to glow in the moonlight; how creatures would skitter about and dance together in courting rituals; and how some of the dreams that were had were comprised of happy things like friendship and family.
When Shadow reached Bright, she was glowing. Bright smiled and took her sister’s hand.
“What did you see?”
“I saw happy dreams, the many different colors of the dark, and the way the creatures below us dance when the wind is cooling off the hot land.” As she spoke, Shadow’s face fell.
“What is it, dear sister?” Bright asked.
“I’d forgotten how beautiful the night can be. I guess I see these sights so often that I take them for granted. I forgot that some creatures prefer the night over the day and that nighttime has its good things, too.”
“Just like daytime has its bad things,” Bright said, smiling.
Shadow hugged her sister. “Thank you, Bright, for helping me remember what I’d forgotten.”
After that, Shadow made sure to watch for one good, new occurrence whenever she brought the moon into the sky. She realized that her sister had unpleasant days the way she had unpleasant nights, but they could always be balanced out by something nice somewhere in the world.
So, in light and in dark, Shadow and her sister, Bright, lived happily ever after.