By N. A Burnham
"Wake up! Wake up!" cried the voice.
It had to be my youngest sister Kara. I steadfastly refused to open my eyes. I didn't know why she insisted on being the first to wake every single morning, nor why she insisted upon waking me up straight after. Sure, I was always the one to put her back to bed when she woke from a nightmare in the middle of the night (or for any other reason for that matter.) Mother and Father were both thankful that they weren't the ones that had to deal with it once Mother was no longer breastfeeding her. Of course, all of us girls shared a room, just as my brothers all shared a room next to us. It was easier for Kara to wake me, than to wake Mother and Father.
"Kara," I mumbled, trying to spit out the few strands of hair stuck in my mouth.
"Wake up!" was the only response I received.
"Kara!" I murmured louder.
"Wake up!" she began shaking me.
"Kara!" I said sternly, trying not to wake Illith my other younger sister.
"Yes Shar?" Kara asked meekly.
"Is the sun up, or is it still dark?", there was silence for a moment before I heard the sound of the shutters being opened slightly. Soft footsteps returned to my bedside.
"The sun's not up, but it's not dark." It took a moment for me to think about this.
"Is Luna out?" I asked, thinking that it must be a full moon.
"Uh huh. She's real big." Kara replied, likely nodding at least four or five times.
I opened my eyes a sliver. Kara was standing in front of me, sucking on her fingers, her stuffed doll clutched to her chest with her other hand. I could see her quite clearly because the light coming through the window, where Kara hadn't closed the shutters, was almost as bright as daylight. I pulled my blankets back and climbed out of bed. I opened the shutters a little more and could see clear out to the forest, it was that light.
"Quickly, wake Illith." I instructed Kara, and as she proceeded to jump on her older sister, I made my way quickly into Mother and Father's room. I debated whether to wake them, but decided that their standing instructions not to be woken unless there was a fire, bandits, monsters or flood still stood. In any case, Mother had already instructed me on what to do the last time this happened. I collected the things I needed as I made my way back into my room to collect my sisters.
"Put your night coats on over your nightgowns and follow me." I instructed them.
They did as I asked and we were soon out in the yard near the back door of our house. I dumped the things that I needed and instructed my sisters to wait as I went back inside. I stirred up the coals in the fire and lit a taper. This I used to light a candle to carry outside. Once I had returned to my sisters I placed the candle on the ground and instructed them to sit around it.
"This happened once a few years ago. Mother and I did this ritual to appease Luna. Remember how it goes because you might need to do it again some time in the future." My sisters nodded to me solemnly.
I picked up the candle. "Once I've said the words, I'll pass the candle to you and you need to say the words, then pass the candle to Illith and she'll say them. Then we do the same with the water and with the mirror." I instructed Kara. "Understand?"
Kara noded, "Uh huh."
"Sister Luna, light above. We are the light, our light shines as brightly as this candle."
I passed the candle to Kara and she repeated word for word the ritual. Once Illith had done likewise, I picked up the jug.
"Sister Luna, light above. We are pure, just as this water is pure." I poured a little water on the ground in front of me before passing the jug to Kara. Kara and Illith performed the ritual in turn and I picked up the candle.
"Sister Luna, light above. You are searching Mithras, scouring. I send your light back to show you that your work is done."
Kara and Illith followed and as Illith finished a wind picked up, blowing out the candle in front of us. The moonlight grew duller and darkness descended upon us. Kara and Illith looked around, eyes wide and mouths hanging wide open.
"Sometimes, Luna searches extra hard for the darkness but if she searches too hard, too brightly then she might burn out. If Luna burns out then we will have no light at night time, nothing but darkness." I told the girls, the same words that Mother said to me years earlier. They both nodded their understanding. I gathered the things and we all headed back inside.
I put the jug back onto the kitchen table and the candle on the mantelpiece. I headed towards Mother and Father's room to put away Mother's mirror as Kara and Illith went back into our bedroom.
"Oh. Sisters?" I said, and they both looked to me. "What do we say to Father Mattias about this?"
"Absolutely nothing." they both said simultaneously.
I nodded to them with satisfaction, "Good girls. Back to sleep now."