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March 15, 2023

A Bedtime Story for the Sun's Children

Bethany Jarmul

As I tuck you into your bed of flowers, as you rest your head upon the meadows waiting for tomorrow's dew, listen, my children, listen.

Long ago, before you were born, before you were even formed of light, there was no darkness. There was no night. There was only me and Moon. We loved one another with a passionate love—caressing in the sky, joining in a mighty dance, sending beams of radiance shooting through the solar system. Planets circled around us, drawn by the gravity of our love, humming along to our song.

When we discovered our love would bring forth life, we planned the world. We formed it out of ourselves, planted it, dreamed up this place for you to live, to grow, and flourish—the rivers, the mountains, the valleys, every creature that stirs above and below. The plants grew thick and strong. The animals frollicked and feasted. Still we waited for you.

But on the day you were to be born, Moon was nowhere to be found. I searched in all the familiar spots, behind his favorite clouds, near Mars, all the way to Jupiter, to Pluto. I screamed into the abyss of space, but Moon did not answer my cries. Then you were born, born in all your beauty and imperfection. Born as creatures so fragile, so curious, so new.

Without my knowledge, Moon had been spending time alone in the vast darkness, experimenting with black holes, studying the ways that stars die, that planets rot.

Moon’s intentions were ill; he brought darkness upon the land, and with it death and decay. His desire was to rule as a malevolent monarch, with you as his subjects. Violence and volatility grew as thorny vines creeping and squeezing the earth.

I fought him with all my might, with every molecule of hydrogen and helium. I punched craters into his rocky sides. But I could not destroy him without also destroying the earth and you with it.

Weary of war, we settled on a truce. I would rule the day, and he would rule the night.

Do not fear Moon, my children, for his power is only a pale reflection of mine. Tonight, when darkness settles around you, when Moon’s beams reflect on your cheeks, say “hello” from me. Tell him I miss him. Tell him my heart is eclipsed. He’ll know what I mean.


BETHANY JARMUL is a writer, editor, and poet. Her work has appeared in more than 50 literary magazines and been nominated for Best of the Net and Best Spiritual Literature. Bethany enjoys chai lattes, nature walks, and memoirs. She lives near Pittsburgh with her family. Connect with her at or on Twitter: @BethanyJarmul.

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