Short Story: Moon Flora

This story is a response to Harris Burdick’s illustration entitled “Mr. Linden’s Library”

    “Stop! Stop!” I giggled, shoving Luna off of me. 

     We collapsed in the grass, hearts racing, breathing hard. I closed my eyes trying to get my heart rate to slow. The cool morning dew seeped slowly through my jeans and t-shirt. The scent of the Earth enveloped me. For the first time since Luna had gotten back, the old house felt like home. I opened my eyes slowly and peered over at her with a stupidly huge smile on my face. I would never tell her, but I missed her when she went away to school.

     “Kids! Breakfast is ready!” Momma called out from the dusty kitchen window. Luna scrambled onto her feet and took off towards the house, calling over her shoulder, “Last one there is a rotten egg!” I clambered onto my still shaky legs and rushed after her. 

     I had always been an athletic kid, but since Luna had started running track at her new boarding school, she had become much faster than me. Her chocolate braid flew out behind her as she ran. The morning breeze was magnified by her speed and her clothes clung to her skin. I dashed forward with all of my might, even though I knew there wasn’t a chance of me winning. The moment I stumbled through the door I heard her classic, “What took you so long?” coming from the dining room; although I could hear her struggling to catch her breath. I kicked my shoes off, shuffled around the corner, and collapsed in the nearest chair, exhausted.

     “You really shouldn’t land in those chairs so hard Jack. They’ve been in this house since I was a little girl and we don’t want to break any more of Grandpa’s things, do we?” Momma said, putting a plate of eggs, toast, and fruit in front of me.

     “No Momma,” I poked at the food on the plate in front of me.

     “That’s what I thought. Now, since Luna is back home, I think it’s about time we go over our ground rules again,” Luna and I groaned and rolled our eyes. We’d been living in our Grandpa’s house for over a year, but whenever Luna came home we had to go over the rules again.

     “I’m sorry but it’s for your safety! Who knows what your grandpa has lying around here. While we’re living here I think it’s best we heed his warnings. One, don’t go near the marsh in the yard. Two, Stay away from windows at night. And three, nev-”

     “Touch the book in the study. We know Momma.”

     “Why can’t we touch the book in the study?” Luna asked.

     “Sometimes it’s better not to know. Your grandfather was a very strange man. I think it’s best not to question anything.”

     “Thank you for breakfast Momma,” I said, clearing my place. 

     Although I didn’t understand the rules, I had a strange feeling that it was very important we follow them. I’d always been a rule follower but with Luna home, I’d become the police. She was never big on following rules. She was very intelligent and inquisitive. If there was a good reason for a rule to be in place she’d follow it. But if she found a rule unreasonable or didn’t understand it, there was very little chance she would follow it.

I placed my plate in the sink and abruptly turned around, almost plowing into Luna.

     “I’m gonna go read the book in the study tonight,” she whispered, “Wanna’ come with?”

     “No! You can’t break those rules!”

      “It’s just one rule. Besides, what’s a little book gonna’ do?”

     “I’m telling you it’s a bad idea!”


     “I just have a bad feeling…”

     “That’s not a reason!”

     “Please, Luna! Grandpa said it was for our safety. Don’t touch it.”

     “Fine. I won’t.” Luna pouted, dropping her plate in the sink with a loud clang. Then, without looking at each other, we rushed out the door again to resume our overly competitive game of tag. We chased each other around finding new tactics and advantages to use against the other for hours. Before we knew it the sun was starting to sink beyond the horizon, turning the sky bright shades of crimson and orange. We slowly made our way towards the house and I glanced over at Luna as soon as we came through the door. She was covered head to foot with mud and grass. I began to laugh but then stopped, realizing she had been tackled to the ground about half as many times as I had.  Quickly I made my way to the bathroom and reluctantly looked in the mirror. I hardly recognized the mud monster staring back at me.

     I quickly turned on the shower to heat up. It took me a solid 5 minutes to remove the mud-plastered clothing from my body before I hopped into the shower. The warm water melted the hardened mud out of my hair easily. It’s warm, gentle touch soothed my sore muscles. The soap filled my nose with the sweet scent of lilies and lavender. I closed my eyes, taking in the pure relaxation that the ancient shower provided. 

     My calmness was shattered as a blood-curdling scream broke through the air. I collapsed in the bathtub, landing hard with my back against the faucet. My heart was racing with adrenaline both from fear and pain. I quickly turned the shower off, dried myself with a towel, and wrapped it around my waist.

     “Momma?! Luna?!” I called.

     “I’m in here Jack!” Momma called back. Her voice shook. I could tell something was wrong. Which way had her voice come from? I froze. The study. Her voice had come from the study. Hot tears of fear, anger, and frustration begin to roll down my face as I ran towards the study. I peered in to see Momma hunched over my sister who was collapsed, unconscious on the floor.

     “What happened!” I sobbed looking at my baby sister, lying motionless on the ground. I glanced around the room. My eyes fell on the pedestal in the corner of the room that held the normally closed, ancient, slightly creepy book that was now open. I choked. My hands trembled and my heart raced. 

    A large bundle of thorny vines had tumbled from the center of the book and now hung off the edge of the pedestal. There was something else I couldn’t quite put my finger on. The vines seemed to be alive, moving, glowing. The corner had a strange foggy feeling. I was frozen. I couldn’t blink. I couldn’t breathe. I thought of the last time we had seen grandpa. He had warned her about the book, but now it was too late. I collapsed sobbing in my Momma’s arms. I felt terrified, devastated, and hopeless. I could tell by looking at Momma nothing would ever be the same. My only sister. My only playmate. My best friend. She was gone.