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Crescent moon
The Cycle

La lune ne garde aucune rancune.

Chapter information
Series

Understandings

Chapter

One-shot

Written by

ByBray

Release date

July 6, 2013

Chronology
Last chapter

Awake

A realistic dark tale of a sad life, this short story was inspired by T.S. Eliot's poem, "Rhapsody on a Windy Night," with an Avatar: The Last Airbender atmosphere. This is a one-shot, stand-alone story written for Ty's one-shot competition.

"TWELVE o'clock.


Along the reaches of the street
Held in a lunar synthesis,
Whispering lunar incantations
Dissolve the floors of memory
And all its clear relations
Its divisions and precisions,
Every street lamp that I pass
Beats like a fatalistic drum,
And through the spaces of the dark
Midnight shakes the memory
As a madman shakes a dead geranium.


Half-past one,
The street lamp sputtered,
The street lamp muttered,
The street lamp said, "Regard that woman
Who hesitates toward you in the light of the door
Which opens on her like a grin.
You see the border of her dress
Is torn and stained with sand,
And you see the corner of her eye
Twists like a crooked pin."


The memory throws up high and dry
A crowd of twisted things;
A twisted branch upon the beach
Eaten smooth, and polished
As if the world gave up
The secret of its skeleton,
Stiff and white.
A broken spring in a factory yard,
Rust that clings to the form that the strength has left
Hard and curled and ready to snap.


Half-past two,
The street-lamp said,
"Remark the cat which flattens itself in the gutter,
Slips out its tongue
And devours a morsel of rancid butter."
So the hand of the child, automatic,
Slipped out and pocketed a toy that was running along the quay.
I could see nothing behind that child's eye.
I have seen eyes in the street
Trying to peer through lighted shutters,
And a crab one afternoon in a pool,
An old crab with barnacles on his back,
Gripped the end of a stick which I held him.


Half-past three,
The lamp sputtered,
The lamp muttered in the dark.


The lamp hummed:
"Regard the moon,
La lune ne garde aucune rancune,
She winks a feeble eye,
She smiles into corners.
She smooths the hair of the grass.
The moon has lost her memory.
A washed-out smallpox cracks her face,
Her hand twists a paper rose,
That smells of dust and old Cologne,
She is alone
With all the old nocturnal smells
That cross and cross across her brain.
The reminiscence comes
Of sunless dry geraniums
And dust in crevices,
Smells of chestnuts in the streets,
And female smells in shuttered rooms,
And cigarettes in corridors
And cocktail smells in bars."


The lamp said,
"Four o'clock,
Here is the number on the door.
Memory!
You have the key,
The little lamp spreads a ring on the stair,
Mount.
The bed is open; the tooth-brush hangs on the wall,
Put your shoes at the door, sleep, prepare for life."


The last twist of the knife."

— T.S. Eliot

His feet trudged through the dark earthen streets of the outer ring of Ba Sing Se, kicking up dust in the vacant dirt roads connecting the distanced shack-houses together. The moon hung over head, ghostly and vibrant, adorned with imperfections—much like him. The light from the moon carried a slight sense of visibility with it, faintly illuminating the rolling grassy hills and distant rice fields with a seemingly supernatural glow. Even the walls were giving off a shade of faded white. Nights like these, he thought, were rare.

On most of his midnight walks, noise from the lively inner city drifted with the wind. The moon would be nearing its waning stages, and the light it gave off was barely enough to see ten feet in front of you. The rolling hills would be hidden, and the slummy houses would be shaded by the darkness, and the pitch black looming walls would tower above you. That, of course, was what he was used to. A time like this was one that would be remembered—until another came along.

As he thought, he moved his feet along, like he typically did. He had done this same process hundreds of times, and this was merely a nicer number in the statistic.

As a child, he had grown up loving the city for its glory and its stability; until he realized how garbage the urban legends were. Life wasn't as pleasant as the books made it seem. It was filled with sadness, depression, and loneliness—something no-one had prepared him for. His life, he thought, had no meaning. It had never regained its meaning after losing everything. But then again, he thought, what had it to lose in the first place? His love vanished long ago, along with his drive: like the moon in the day or the sun in the night. But unlike the heavenly bodies, his motivation never returned. It was sucked out of his life like a gorging leech.

His feet subconsciously followed his normal trail, showing faint signs of uneven impressions from his repeated footsteps in the time before the present. Every now and again, he would glance at the moon to see it had moved a few centimeters in the night sky.

Stopping in his tracks, he turned and fronted a rundown bar, the place that he centered his walk around. Willingly, he picked his feet up alternately, stepping onto the small pub's slightly elevated porch and swinging open the creaking, hinged double half-doors. He walked past the empty tables and chairs, and pulled out a stool at the bar. The room was as plain as ever, not that he cared to pay attention. All he knew is that he wanted to forget.

"The usual," he muttered, as the bartender washed up a glass with a stained, greyed cloth. He turned around and faced the man, setting the glass on the bar and pulling out a large, clear bottle with the words "gin" scrawled across a sliver of pale tan masking tape. Instinctively, he reached out and grabbed the glass as soon as the bar-man finished pouring. The odor burnt his nose and scorched his throat, but the effects it had were worth the pain. In a gulping swoop, he placed the glass on the table with a clang, causing the bartender to notice with a slight smirk. Routinely, he filled the glass, the man turned it upside down, and letting the now bitter liquid pour into his throat.

The more he drank, the easier it was.

The less he cared.

The less he remembered.

His body began to delay movement, but he didn't care. He loved not having to care about anything at this precise moment in time. The feeling it gave him filled him with unexplainable warmth, one that he looked forward to everyday—the only thing he looked forward to anymore, actually. His vision blurred and his speech became inaudible, but only when the bartender no longer looked his way would he stumble and stagger his way outside. He clung to the warmth he still felt, slowly diminishing as time went by. His feet knew where to take him, as he lost his mind in his stupor—his head a jumbled mess of faded memories and non-sense.

He began to grow cold as the warmth left rapidly, and the pain returned, but oh! How the pain returned! He could feel himself double over time to time, his throat burning as he revisited the night's happenings, only making him ever so colder. He looked to the moon; a blur of light surrounded by shards of glass now, and he couldn't fight the encroaching icy wind. It began to devour him, sending him into spits and sputters, only to be interrupted by the shouts of nearby townspeople in the midst of night. The warmth no longer hid the hurt, as he began to ache and cry, dragging his body to his home. He was cold in the nightly wind, still in a state of drunken inertness; he began to remember. His head began to pound and his palms drenched with sweat. All he wanted was to be home; to forget everything again tomorrow—he needed to be warm again. The pain was too much to bear. He had to forget, no matter the cost.

The moon increasingly approached the horizon as the sun began to surface, filling the sky with an extremely faint orange glow. Hurriedly, he scraped and clambered to his home, which was in the emptiness between a connector road and a rice field. He trudged to the door, slamming it open, knocking the lone photo-frame to the floor, shattering the glass cover into shards. He sprawled into his bathroom and stared at himself in the mirror, but it was not he who stared back. A skeleton of his former self: alone, no meaning anymore. His weathered heart screamed for death, but his contorted mind pleaded for life.

The last twist of the knife.


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