Have you ever wondered what it is the moon is doing when it’s up there? Hanging in the night sky? Well, don’t. It’s a silly question. The moon is obviously doing what the rest of us are doing when the sun is down. Sleeping.
However, there are nights when the moon can’t sleep. When the moon tosses and turns fretfully, lurks alarmingly behind clouds, causes milk to sour and dogs to bark and old European grandmothers to frown suspiciously and draw the curtains early.
In the manner of you or I looking out at the moon in a fit of insomnia, some nights when the moon is awake, the moon likes to look through the window of a small girl named Louisa. The light rolls off the roof, creeps down the siding, and leans against the glass.
When the moon had first started watching Louisa, she was a little tiny thing being put to cradle by some adult or other. Later on, Louisa was a little toddling thing, who was put to bed with songs and murmurs, and pulled herself up the edges of her cot, peering out at the world through round eyes. By this time, Louisa is a little walking thing, who sometimes sits drawing at a tiny desk before going to bed. Other times, she flips the pages of a storybook in the big chair by the window before going to bed. Sometimes, she sits on the floor eating a snack before bed. Sometimes, she is not in the room at all, but about in the house, only returning to her bedroom just in time to turn the lights out and go to bed. Once she’d been sleeping at her grandparents’ house when the moon was awake and feeling dull, and shortly thereafter the moon had sulked itself to sleep, bereft of amusement.
Now, one night, the moon woke up from an unpleasant dream (yes, the moon has nightmares, too) and decided to look through Louisa’s window. When the moonlight reached Louisa’s window, it curled back on itself, jumping to find Louisa sitting up sleepily in the chair by the window, looking back out at the Moon.
“Hello,” Louisa yawned. “I couldn’t sleep. What are you doing up?”
The moonlight glimmered skittishly outside her window.
“You can come in if you like,” Louisa offered, small voice polite. “I can see you out there. You’re quite bright, you know.”
The moon hesitated for a moment, but, finding the object of its curiosity beckoning in a perfectly amiable, if half-asleep, manner turned out to be too potent a pull, and bit by bit the moonlight came through Louisa’s window, falling to the floor and throwing glowing patches of light across the carpet, over the little desk, up over the edges of Louisa’s nightgown as she sat curled in the big chair.
“Oh, pretty!” Louisa said, watching the silver light play off the white walls, gleam off the mirror, and send moonbeams to play with the dust.
“I had a nightmare,” Louisa stated, “and I didn’t want to go back to sleep and keep having it, so I got up to look at the light outside. It’s nicer having light inside. The dark is a bit scary after a nightmare. The shadows seem to jump out at you.”
As if to oblige, the moonlight chased some shadows from under the desk out beneath the crack under Louisa’s bedroom door. She laughed.
“Seem to, I said.”
Louisa pulled the blanket more snugly about her small shoulders and yawned again.
“It is nice having you, but I really ought to sleep. I’d get a story book, but I wouldn’t be able to see you with the light on.”
The moonlight flowed over the floor, up to the far wall of Louisa’s bedroom, and lit up the wallpaper. It called back the shadows it had chased under the door, and, alternately, bright and dark horses and cats and birds ran and flew over Louisa’s walls, and she laughed, but into her blanket, lest someone hear.
Running around her ankles, the moon lit the way to her little bed, and Louisa curled up again.
On the wall before her, the silver light began making shapes again.
First, a bright shape rising over shadows. The moon. Then, a low little tree, and a dark little house, with a single bright window. The house and window grew on the wall, as the moon coaxed the wee shadows into its visions, and Louisa sleepily watched as the dark shape of a lady put a small bundle into a cradle in the window. The bright moon moved back and forth and up and down on the wall, and the little tree grew higher. In the bright shape of the window on the wall, a man was putting a small child into a tiny bed. Louisa laughed again as she realized what she was watching.
The moon moved, and the tree grew, and now a shape of a girl was looking out the window. Now she was reading. Louisa waved out the window at the big moon from her bed.
The girl in the window on her wall waved out at the little moon on her wall.
The little, bright window of light on the wall grew even bigger, and the shadow girl was in her shadow bed, falling asleep, while the little, bright moon went down.
But Louisa was already asleep, and the moon crept out her window, rolled back over the walls and roofs and trees, and beamed brightly enough to annoy the clouds, who disbanded in a snit and rolled off elsewhere, and the whole hemisphere glowed brightly that night, with many astronomers and meteorologists scratching their heads.
But the moon was quite pleased with its new game, and if you ever find yourself troubled to sleep, find a bit of light from outdoors on the wall or ceiling. It will play marvelous tricks with you, and perhaps show you something true.