One dark, stormy night, Jewel and her mother, Esperanza, played Mexican Train dominoes while the rain lashed the kitchen windows. The wind bent the trees sideways, and all the birds and squirrels were in hiding. The lights flickered and went out. Jewel could no longer see the walls of the kitchen, and the lightning briefly lit the kitchen.
“I can’t find any matches,” Esperanza said. “I know we have a lantern here somewhere.” Another flash of lightning lit the dark cupboard her mother was searching. She heard the whirring of her mother cranking a lantern before a boom of thunder made her cover her ears.
“I’m scared.” Jewel whispered in the dark. Somehow talking about fears in the dark seemed natural. Her mother lit the lantern and gave her a big hug. Her mother laughed deep from her belly, just in the way that always made Jewel smile.
“When I was a girl, I was scared of storms and the dark, just like you!” Jewel’s mother was reassuringly large and warm, and she made Jewel feel safe.
“Let’s build a blanket fort under the kitchen table!” Esperanza always had great ideas. She came into the kitchen with her arms full of blankets. The table was the roof, and they used the chairs to make walls. Her mother spread a fuzzy blanket under the table. Jewel giggled and felt like an explorer as she used the lantern to fetch her favorite pillow.
“Would you like some of my special Mexican hot cocoa?” Esperanza asked.
Her mother took the lantern to make hot cocoa. Jewel was all alone in the twilight under the table. She tried to be brave like her mother. She closed her eyes, and listened to the sound of the rain and wind. Jewel imagined the blanket fort was a cottage in a clearing, deep in the woods. She heard tiny footsteps and opened her eyes. She stared at her only door. Was someone there?
A knocking came at her door, tappa tappa tap.
“Who is there?” Jewel called.
A small voice responded: “A cold and lonely traveler.”
“Come in and warm yourself.” Jewel opened her door. A young fawn came into her cottage, shivering and looking miserable. Her cottage was tiny, just room for her and one more.
“Come here, and I will cover you up,” offered Jewel.
The fawn gratefully curled up, and Jewel tucked her into the fuzzy blanket. She looked exhausted.
“Would you like my pillow?” Jewel asked.
“You are too nice!” The fawn exclaimed. “Why are you so nice to me?”
“You seem cold and tired, and people should help each other.” Jewel patted the fawn. Just then, the fawn transformed into a beautiful moon princess, with shining pale skin, and long black hair.
“You have saved me! I once turned away a fawn from my door during a storm. The fawn turned out to be a witch, and she cursed me to wander the world until I found someone willing to help me on a dark, stormy night. So many times, I have been turned away from doors, never seeing the moon behind the clouds. Now I can return to the moon. Ever after, I will help those in need. As I leave, I will grant you three wishes, which I see in your heart. I will look out for you from the moon.” With that, she waved and disappeared.
At that moment, the lights came back on, her mother returned, and she said, “I have the hot cocoa!”
Copyright 2013 Brenda Davis Harsham
Storm Photo Courtesy of Google Images