Not very far from where you live, a small island hides in the middle of a wide river. There isn’t much to it. A thick growth of trees holds the soil in place as the swift current rushes past on both sides. Very few people have even seen the island, placed so far from either bank that it looks like a mere smudge from the shore. Those who float past it in boats steer clear of the tree roots that extend out into the water like claws looking to trap living things. No one ever lands there. There is no shore to land on. Just a tangle of trees that looms up as you approach and then dwindles quickly as the river carries you past.
But in the middle of that island, unseen by anyone, there is a cottage, and in that cottage, there is a young girl, and she is very far from home.
Luna was born among the stars. Her father was a solar flare and her mother a glimmer of moonlight, and Luna herself glowed brightly in the night sky. When she was very small, she darted about, winking and twinkling and delighting everyone who saw her. As she grew and began to shine more brightly, she took her place near to her mother. From the surface of the earth, she appeared to be a star, though in reality her glow was much more dim. But like her mother, the moonlight, she loved the Earth and kept her light only for those who walked its surface, while the stars went their own way, busy with their own concerns.
Still, there was one star who noticed little Luna: the Morning Star. Morning was used to being the brightest star to fill Earth’s sky, and she was not pleased at the attention that Luna received from astronomers and small children alike. Morning went to Luna’s mother and demanded that the girl be sent to live near her father, where her light would be eclipsed by the day, but Luna’s mother refused to be parted from her daughter.
It is not wise to refuse a star, for they burn with the intensity of a sun, and their anger is fearsome to see.
So it was with the Morning Star that she radiated rage, and calling on all of her immense power, she cast Luna out of the night sky and down to earth, imprisoning her on a little island in the middle of a rushing river.
On the island Luna is neatly trapped, for though here on the ground she appears to be a normal human girl, still inside she is made of fire. The trees of the island fear her and will not let her near them, and she herself fears the water of the river.
Luna’s parents, of course, still shine on her from above, her mother keeping her company at night and her father during the day, but both are distant and though she speaks to them, they cannot answer back, and Luna is very lonely.
Still, moonlight and sunlight are not without power, and though they cannot rescue their daughter themselves, they have formed a plan. Men once walked on the surface of the moon and men could do so again if they chose, so Luna’s parents are looking to men to bring their daughter home.
First she must be found. Luna’s father pushed hard on a passing meteor and sent tiny fragments of metallic rock to land on her island. Each day he pulses with heat, causing the rocks to glitter and shine. Nothing attracts men so much as the glistening of precious metal.
Then she must be flown to the moon. Luna’s mother, beautiful as she is, has very little power of her own, but she still has the power to intrigue and bewitch. Each night she turns her glimmer toward the earth and causes it to flicker in an obvious pattern. Nothing makes men want to investigate so much as a mystery that no one else has solved.
How Luna is to get from the treasure hunter who discovers her to the scientists who will study the moon is up to her. She watches the sky and sees her parents’ plan and thinks of all that she learned in her years of watching men on Earth.
So Luna waits, not for a prince to rescue her but for ordinary human curiosity to give her an opening, a chance to rescue herself.
The water rushes by, and her parents smile down on her, and Luna waits.