The soft tears of the begonias dewed softly in the early dawn as the creole moon journeyed to her bed. Before she could take her rest she had one last thing to do. The moon leaned down. Her shawl of silver moonbeams draped the bayou in soft light.
“Toad, Alligator, and Pelican.” The moon’s voice lingered in the humid air, and caught the attention of the sleepy swamp.
“Yes, Your Excellency.” The toad stood as tall as he possibly could. It wasn’t every day you were summoned by the Moon.
The alligator swam lazily in the water. He eyed the toad and thought fleetingly of how hungry he was. “At your service,” he grumbled.
The pelican bowed and raised her eyes. She knew the Moon wouldn’t stop on the way to her rest if it weren’t important.
“The time has come for Louie to find a wife. His influence over all who live here is considerable, and lucky for us he is as wise and honorable as he is handsome. He must find a wife that is as pure of heart as he or all will be lost.” The Moon eyed her three messengers. “Today is Market Day, and every available young maiden will journey along this path to town. You are to find the woman who will be Louie’s match.”
“And how shall we do that, Your Majesty?” The toad looked at his friends and then back at the Moon.
“You are to test if she is compassionate, loyal, and wise. How you do that is up to you.” The toad, alligator, and pelican watched as the Moon yawned and continued her journey to sleep. They huddled together and began to plan.
Giselle yawned and closed her eyes once more to hold on to the last whispers of her dream. The sweet nectar of sleep breathed life into her parents, and once again, they would sit by the fire. She would play a rousing game of chess with her mother, while her father read his paper and chuckled at their competitiveness. ‘His girls.’ That’s what he called them.
Giselle sighed and slid out of bed to prepare for her trek into town.
When her parents had died she was sent to live with her Aunt Claudette — and although she despised being saddled with a young girl, she made the best of the situation by giving Giselle all of the household chores. Claudette was a local voodoo witch. Her beauty was once legendary, but had slowly diminished into deep lines of anger and resentment. Giselle heard whispers that Claudette had loved a married man who had promised to whisk her away to foreign lands, but on the night they were supposed to meet and run away together, the man didn’t show.
“Giselle, let us go or we shall be late!” Claudette stood by the door tapping her foot.
Giselle quickly filled the wheelbarrow with the rest of the potions and balms that would be sold in the market. She pushed it through the house and quickened her pace to catch up to her aunt. On the path, Giselle noticed a small toad — its croaks were filled with anguish.
“Oh, Auntie, the poor little thing is injured.” Giselle stooped to look at the toad. A tear dropped down her cheek as she noticed the cut on its leg.
“Leave it be! Come on, girl.” Claudette continued down the path, without stopping to look back.
Giselle gingerly placed the toad in the pocket of her apron and continued down the path. “I will hide you in my pocket and once she is not looking I will patch your cut and you will be good as new.”
As she pushed the wheelbarrow around a curve she noticed a big alligator sunning itself in the dappled rays of light.
“A moment of your time,” it grumbled. “I am very hungry and seem to have lost my lunch. It was a delicious toad. Do you happen to see him? I will pay generously for I have gold and silver hidden away, collected from the depths of the swamp.”
“I am sorry Mr. Alligator, I have not seen a toad. But you can have the rest of my roll from breakfast. I hope this will relieve some of your hunger pangs.” And with that Giselle continued along the path.
As she was nearing the market square a pelican swooped down and stopped on the edge of the wheelbarrow.
“I am sorry to bother you, but I need help. I have not talked to my family for many moons. We had an argument and I am afraid it will never be reconciled. I am very lonely. What shall I do?”
Giselle looked at the pelican and softly touched its feathers. “Pride is both a curse and blessing. In this life we only have one family. I lost my parents many years ago. I wish I could talk to them every day. While yours are still alive, I advise to settle your differences.”
“That is very wise. I will do that. Thank you.” With a nod the pelican lifted in the air.
Before she caught up to her aunt at the market, the most handsome man Giselle had ever seen approached. He held her hand, looked into her eyes, and they fell in love.
When the Moon awoke, all was right with the world.
Allison deHart is a full time English/Creative Writing teacher and part time musician. She resides in the beautiful mountains of Southern California with her husband (who has authored several books), and her sons. She has her bachelors degree in Creative Writing from Cal State San Bernardino and her Masters in teaching from Chapman University. After several years of a writing hiatus, she has once again started putting pen to paper. You can find her on Facebook at fb.me/littlebearvalleyblues
The Creole Moon is a Fiction War Finalist entry.
Please do not reproduce without permission from the author.
Originally published at fictionwar.com. Image credit: @rzunikoff