Imagine one night, you have a dream that feels so real, it’s almost as if you are there. Like the reality fell away and the dream took its place, so vivid you can feel the emotion and taste the air on your tongue. Every smell, every texture is just as real as it is is normal life, if not more real.
Now imagine waking up, expecting to be in your own bed, like normal. But you’re not. You’re in an entirely different place. A place you could only imagine… in your dreams.
So let’s go back to that night one summer when one girl’s world changed for good. A teenage girl stands in front of the mirror, combing through her wavy black hair. Her midnight blue eyes twinkle as she stares at her reflection. Her eyes don’t shine like stars. No. They are the stars, lighting up the deep blue depths of her irises.
The pale skin of her arms don’t just seem like the creamy white of the moon. They are the moon, her skin bathed in a layer of ivory moondust.
The cascading, wavy black hair doesn’t just look like the obsidian shades of the night sky. It is the night sky, a midnight canvas threaded through with sparkling violets and strands of gold that all the girls envy and ask about; she simply replies, “That’s my natural shade.” Nobody believes her, but it’s true.
So she stands tall in the mirror, late at night. Yet she doesn’t feel tired. She feels more alive than ever before, rejuvenated and glowing with energy and life. Sometimes the girl wonders why she feels so out-of-place and sluggish during the day, but so at ease and lively at night.
Pushing the thought away, she reminds herself that that’s just how it always has been, since the moment she was born until that very night. That girl in the mirror is me.
My name is Mira Casse, and I was born with the night sky in me.
I glanced at the mirror one last time, swiping off the remainder of my cherry pink lip balm and smoothing the wrinkled fabric of my old nightgown. Turning off the harsh lights, I let the darkness flood my vision. It didn’t scare me. It never had.
Even when I was a young girl and my friends had all been petrified of the dark, I had always welcomed the blackness, letting it wrap around me like a blanket of silence; the shadows kids were so scared of had always brought me a quiet sort of peace. Content. Tranquil. The dark is no place to cower in fear, I thought to myself as I padded down the hall, the dark is a place to dream.
A memory surfaced. I remembered one night when I was young, this same thing, these same thoughts. A sense of deja vu dripped into my mind as I recalled the details. Walking back from the bathroom while all of the house slept, my flashlight clutched in my hand. Even my small mind knew that you should always have a flashlight. The words had been drilled into my mind by my mother. The dark is dangerous. The dark is cold. The dark is scary, Mira. Don’t ever let it take you. Now, thinking about it, I realized the words had been a warning. But I didn’t understand it. Halfway down the hall, I did what I never had even fathomed doing. I broke my mom’s most sacred rule.
I clicked off the flashlight, letting the darkness envelop me, a dark cloth falling over me. The black hallway did not seem scary. Or cold. I knew by now that there were no monsters lurking in the shadows. The same thoughts pounded through my head. The dark is no place to cower in fear. The dark is a place to dream.
Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light; I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.”-“The Old Astronomer to His Pupil”, by Sarah Williams
Slipping into my bedroom, I felt more awake than I had all day.
The moon was high in the dusky sky, illuminating my room with its silver light. A sweet summer breeze drifted in through the open window, and I inhaled, taking in the scent of fresh grass and cherry blossoms. Glittering stars shone through the clouds.
Stepping away from the window, I sprawled out on the bed, letting my face sink into the pillow and feeling the world slip away into sleep…
Running. Running on air. My feet were moving, propelling me forward as I sprinted across the starry sky. Wispy white clouds were fuzzy against my ankles, like cotton candy on my toes. Stars shone above like brilliant beacons in the dark, so close I could almost reach out and touch them as I leapt gracefully from cloud to cloud.
The wind whipped my inky black hair, throwing it out behind me like a banner in the breeze, so black that it stood out against the soft midnight sky. Oddly, my mind was almost completely blank. No thoughts of the ground, so far below, of the past, or future. Everything was now. Despite the void of mind, my heart guided me along the way. Though it felt like I was leaping aimlessly through the night, my heart pounded harder and harder as I ran, tugging me in the right direction.
Like a gleaming apparition in the mist, a structure emerged from the void of the night; it sharpened in my vision as I sprinted towards it. It was a Greek-looking structure made of towering marble pillars and topped with an elaborate silver roof that shone in the ethereal glow of the moon. My whole body tingled in anticipation as I neared it, and I felt an inexplicable tug.
Go to the temple, a voice said in my mind, like a sweet whisper in my thoughts. It pulled me forward, like a magnet to metal. Pulse flickering wildly, I could hear the hammering thud-thud of my heart pounding my ribs.
My loose, flowing white nightgown swirled around my knees as I came to a halt, resting on the gilded steps. As soon as my foot touched the cold marble of the step, I could feel it. A change that rattled down to my core. A change that felt deeper than the dream.
My heart swelled, light spilling into my soul. Happiness. Peace. Glory. Though I was certain I’d never seen this place before, it felt… right. Like I belonged here, more than any other place in the world. Looking down at my hands, I saw that they were glowing, my whole body surrounded by a shimmering silver aura. A smile spread across my lips as I reached down and was greeted… not by the flimsy cotton nightgown, no.
My hand was met by the soft slide of silk beneath my fingertips. With a grin as big as the moon above, my eyes devoured the sight of my dress. It was a cascading golden gown that shimmered as I turned my hips. The bodice hugged my curves, but not in a strangulating way, no. In a way that felt like I was wrapped in starlight; both hot and cold at the same time, bringing a pleasant tingling sensation through my body.
My hair was still loose and flowing, but as my pale fingers ran through it, the windblown, ratty tangles were gone. In their place was a sheen of shiny, jet-black hair with gentle waves that framed my face. A wreath of golden stars sat atop my head like a crown.
I walked slowly up the steps, noticing the strappy silver heels that now held the feet that were bare a second before. The pavillion was bare except for a king-size bed in the corner, and a plush throne in the center. It had a metallic black velvet seat, and a towering silver back, criss-crossed with gold. Engraved into the metal were colorful planets and constellations. A throne fit for a queen. A queen of the night.
A smiling girl stood in the center with outstretched arms, a slim, pale figure with elegantly styled auburn hair. She wore a bow slung across her back. Though I had never seen her before, visions of her flashed across my eyes like forgotten memories. Before my brain could even take her in, I ran towards her and flung myself into her arms, hugging her tightly.
Warmth spread through my body, a happy tear dripped from my eyes. The name left my lips before my mind could even process how I knew it.
“Artemis!” I cried out, tears running in rivulets down my pale cheeks. I’d never seen her before, and yet I knew her name. This girl in the dream felt like… family. Memories flooded my mind, of us laughing together, frolicking across the midnight sky, Artemis shooting down a star and holding it in the air, suspending it in mid-air.
Of her taking out a silver chain with a glass bubble in the center and diffusing the star so that the glowing light was encapsulated in the glass. I felt my clavicle, felt the silver necklace that I always wore around my throat. Looking at it, the star in the glass pulsing and glowing gold, then back at the girl.
Artemis. My best friend. When we finally pulled away, she smiled at me with the deepest joy. Her silvery voice rang out into the night….
“Welcome home, Selene. Welcome to your kingdom.”
I woke up with a groan. Wow, what a wonderful dream. I need to write that down… I thought groggily, scrunching my brow and trying to clear the haze. I stretched a hand out to grab the water on my nightstand… and I was met with air. The knotted wood of the nightstand was nowhere to be found.
My eyes snapped open, and I screamed at the sight. The ceiling above me was not my room’s lilac painted ceiling. It was silver. Gleaming. Shiny. Silver. Sheets flew everywhere as I jolted out of bed, gazing around in disbelief.
The girl from my dream lounged on the arm of the throne, lazily eating a stack of pancakes. Climbing out of bed, I instantly shivered at the cold marble beneath my feet. A pair of strappy silver heels sat beside the bed, and I slipped them on warily. I went to pinch myself, thinking, There’s no way this is real. I must be dreaming…
And was met by silky golden fabric of the gown, barely wrinkled by my slumber. I pinched myself nonetheless. The bite of pain made me wince. Blinking furiously, to my disbelief, everytime I opened my eyes the scene stayed the same.
I wasn’t dreaming. This was real. Undeniably real.
“Um, Artemis?” The girl looked up. “Where am I?”
“Isn’t it obvious? Your palace! Your home!” I shook my head furiously.
“No… I- what about my house? My room? My parents?” A sad look crossed her face, and she ran a pale hand through her hair.
“How to even explain it… Mira, your name isn’t Mira Casse. It’s Selene. And that wasn’t your home, either,” she set the plate down. “You see, Selene… this is your true home. Up here, in the sky. You were kidnapped as a child and brought down to Earth to be raised by a mortal family. Don’t you see? They tried to keep you away from it! The sky, the night. Didn’t you ever wonder why you felt so out-of-place? Odd? Like no matter how hard you tried, you always came back to the moon. Always felt at peace in the dark and at night.”
Furrowing my brow, I held my head in my hands, yanking out a strand of inky black hair and wincing at the bite of pain. No matter how hard I thought, she was right. It all made sense. How I never looked up when people called my name. My looks, how they reflected the night sky perfectly. My comfort in the dark.
“But… I thought that was a dream!” I exclaimed. She smiled sympathetically, a look that said, There’s so much you need to know.
“It was a dream. But I finally had enough power to reach out and guide you through the dream realm, bringing you here. As soon as your foot crossed the threshold, you entered reality. You became yourself. The true, unrestrained version.” My head was spinning. Everything was turned upside-down. Everything I had known to be true had been a lie. My family. My identity. Even my name.
“So if I’m not Mira Casse, then who am I?” Artemis grinned, thin pink lips curling up in a smile. Her hazel eyes lit up like beacons, outshining the sun that hung high in the sky.
“You are Selene. Goddess of the moon and the night.”