Status: active.

The Shards of the Moon


My dad used to sit in this giant leather chair in his office. He would puff on a pipe, all the while sipping on peppermint schnapps as the sickly sweet smell of mint and tobacco would waft into the hallway. He would sit in this worn and fading brown chair, scribbling in a notebook while staring out the window to the night sky.

When I was young, I was never really sure what his scribbling and doodling meant. However, as I became older, he would call me into the room – a small space, filled with books about space and folders full of blueprints for space shuttles, lit only by the full moon. He would stand me next to him, pointing up at the sky.

“Luna, do you know what that is?”

Through the small gap where my front teeth had been, before I'd lost them in a fight with a corn cob, I would answer in my sweet little voice. “It's a consellashun,” I would beam.

My father would smile back at me, his big crooked grin on his jolly round face. “Yes, dear! It is a constellation! The constellation of Cassiopeia. Do you remember why it's called Cassiopeia?”

“I 'member!” I'd squeal in excitement. “Cassiopeia was a beafiful queen!”

My dad would chuckle. “Yes, Luna. Cassiopeia was a beautiful queen, indeed. She was so beautiful, but also incredibly vain. I know, my sweet Luna, you will never let your beauty get in the way of the path laid out for you in the stars.”

My mom would knock on the door then, her beautiful dark hair flowing down past her shoulders in loose waves. “It's bedtime for you, Luna,” she'd speak in a voice reminiscent to the small tinkle of a bell.

My father would kiss my forehead and say, “Goodnight, Luna Celeste. Dream sweet things of the moon tonight.”

My father had grown up in a small town outside of Romania, while my mother had lived on multiple Army bases stationed throughout the USA. My parents met in Kansas City, where my mom was interviewing for a job at a small government contractor and my father was interviewing for a rather significant job with NASA.

We'd lived a lavish life as I grew up, in our little town on the outskirts of Kansas City. My father worked from home, my mother worked in an office thirty minutes away, and I went to preschool, then elementary school, within a half a mile of our gated community.

I have been given everything I have ever wanted, but tried to remain humble. My father's stories of the constellations and where they originated have always stuck with me. The seven deadly sins would never be able to touch me, because I'd learned everything I needed to know from a man who seemed to be able to speak to the stars.

So imagine my confusion when I awoke on a Tuesday morning at dawn, a day before my eighteenth birthday, to find my father slumped over his desk. I thought at first maybe he'd fallen asleep there, and I was going to leave him be, but the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach would not let me walk away.

The air smelled of the same mixture of peppermint and tobacco. The pads of paper and pens were still strewn across the desk. Nothing was out of place. But I could feel that something wasn't right. No, something was very, very wrong.

I approached him slowly, tentative steps across the carpeted floor to the same leather chair where he'd kissed me goodnight for as long as I can remember. I placed my fingers on the back of the chair, leaning closer to my father.

He wasn't breathing.

He wasn't even warm.

I jumped back in confusion, jolting into a more conscious headspace before really understanding what was happening. I raised a hand to my mouth, covering what would have been a body-wracking sob. I took one step back, and then another, until I turned and bolted from the office. Back up the stairs, down the hall to where my mother was still asleep.

I frantically knocked on her door, but was already bolting to her side before she could even mutter a, “come in.”

“Momma, momma,” I shook her awake. “Momma, something's happened to dad. He's cold. He's – he's – he...” I was choking on the tears running down the back of my throat.

My mom sat up, placing her hands solidly on my shoulders with a steady look of panic in her eyes. “Luna, Luna! What's going on?”

“Momma...he's...he's dead!” I wailed, falling into her arms. She held me for only a short moment, before moving me out of her way and running down the hall. I wiped my eyes and followed closely behind, grabbing her cell phone off the charger.

I dialed 911 as she fought to bring him back, though he was already long gone.

When the ambulance arrived, when they pronounced him dead, my mom fell into a heap on the floor. My father was an important man, so many responders from different departments had arrived to our house in the early hours of the morning.

Everyone and everything moved around me so quickly. I stepped out the front door as the first responders struggled to get his body on a stretcher.

In my white sweatpants, my green long sleeve shirt, my bare feet lightly stepping through the grass in the front yard, I took note of the moon. Still playing peekaboo with the sun, a small crescent in the corner of the ever lightening sky.

As I stepped on to the pavement of the road, I stared harder at the moon, and the one lone star next to it. The star that I knew to form one end of Cassiopeia. How could my father – the man who could talk to stars – be gone?

From deep within my core, bubbling up through my throat, came the most soul crushing scream that anyone could ever emit from their body. It was primal, loud, painful, and I don't remember much more than feeling myself directing all of my rage at the moon I'd had sweet dreams of, and the stars my father talked to, until someone grabbed me by the shoulders and forced me to focus on them.

It was an officer, and he was trying to calm me. I stopped screaming, settling for tears rolling down my cheek. He led me back to my house, but before he could guide me inside I took one more glance at the moon.

It may have been grief, or maybe just delirium from lack of oxygen thanks to my grand scream in the road...but I swear that the moon had grown bigger.
♠ ♠ ♠
Word count: 1,138

I'd originally planned to only make a one shot out of this. But as I was writing, I realised I wanted to pursue this as a multi-chapter story. This is incredibly different from anything I've ever written, falling far more into the fantasy genre that I've never known much about.

That said, I'm not an astronomer, and I'm not sure how accurate or possible any of this story will be. I guess that's part of why I've placed it into the sci-fi/fantasy genres.

Anyway, let me know what you think!