Every Friday night at 7 kittens from all over town would come to sit on the red hill below the city lights. They would listen to Bombay the Tall Tale tell his tall tales. It was a tradition that was as old as Bombay. When he was just a tiny fur-ball he began his legacy of wild and wondrous stories. He would tell his friends all these amazing worlds and characters that would come out of his head. It was something they all looked forward to. No one knew though that all these stories were his way of coping with his reality.
Bombay’s life started out sad when he was abandoned by his mom and dad on a doorstep. Two humans took him in. He loved them so much and they loved him dearly. Bombay watched his humans get married, have children, and get older. One day Bombay watched as a fight turned into something he never saw coming. All of those beautiful years ended in a bad divorce. They fought over the house, the furniture, and their daughter, but they never once fought over Bombay. In fact one night Bombay was left on the doorstep of an animal shelter. A nightmare he had already lived once he was having to relive again. Out of all the stories he had told, this traumatic event would spark a story unlike any other. It was called, “The Sun and the Moon”. Tonight on a hot Friday in June, years into the future as all the kittens gathered around, he would tell this story.
Bombay walked up to the top of the hill and cleared his throat. He began to speak loudly as everyone carefully listened. Bombay was known for his deep voice and his rugged fur. When left at the animal shelter all those years ago, he darted into the woods and has lived on his own ever since. He is a scavenger, a gypsy, and he has a deeply caring heart. Everyone loved Bombay and his stories. Tonight even a little Mouse had come out to sit in peace beside the kittens and listen.
“This is a story about the Moon and the Sun. This story is about a deep love with unfair circumstances. A sad romance”. Bombay said loudly as he straightened his red bowtie.
One of the kittens let out a quiet, “yuck”. All the other kittens giggled but Bombay continued his story.
“The Moon and Sun have been in love since the beginning of their existence. The Sun always admires the beauty of the Moon. The lovely soft light that illuminates around her like a satin veil. The way she playfully tugs at the tides. The way she is mysterious and all the unknown parts of her. The way she changes from one day to the next. The Sun once even told her, ‘You are a slow sweet melody full of wonder. Everyone on Earth is amazed by you and you bring a light that is underrated. You are the half of me that is calm, collected, and completely surrendered. You are forever my love.’”.
Bombay stopped a minute to look around at the faces in front of them. They were listening as they had never listened before. Eyes bright and wide under the pale beautiful light of the Moon.
“The way she loved the Sun was like no other love before.” Bombay began again.
“He is the life that flowed through her. He is the reason she rises every night. He is the kind of crazy that is good. He is passionate and on fire! Blazing like a glittering diamond. He is brave and oh so bold. She would tell him all the time, “You are my better half. You light up my life when darkness surrounds me. You make me feel warm and loved. You cast the brightest light on the Earth and from the light grows life. You are essential but to me, I couldn’t live without you.”
One of the kittens interrupted Bombay excitedly. “Wow! They love each other so much don’t they!?”
“Yes,” Bombay said as he dropped his head. “However this story does not have a good ending.”
“Why?” Asked the little kitten.
“Well you see, they could never be together. When one was up the other was down. They could never touch for there is great distance between them. This is how it has to be. There is not enough room in the sky for the Moon and the Sun at the same time. They do this for us. They protect us and the life that grows here on Earth. They work separate shifts and they can never come together.
The little Mouse spoke up quietly, “Then how did they ever talk? In your story, you mentioned they spoke to each other.”
Bombay shook his head up and down.
“Yes, there is one tiny exception to all of this. Once a day for only 5 minutes as the Sun is coming up and the Moon is going down, they meet in the middle. They talk, they laugh, and they love each other fiercely, but don’t be fooled. When the Moon is far away from the Sun and the Sun is far away from the Moon, their thoughts are always on each other. Their love knows no distance. Unfortunately, no matter how great their love is they know they can never truly be together like we can here. We have friends we can hug and play with. Our parents can kiss each other. When we are sad, we can wipe each other’s tears. The Sun and the Moon can never truly comfort each other.
One of the mothers had walked up to retrieve her kittens and had overheard some of the story. She sat down to listen. Even to her, this was one of the saddest tales she had ever heard.
Bombay noticed that his audience was growing and he continued.
“The Sun and the Moon had this same routine every day for centuries. They had watched humans and animals fight but love was still alive. Love always won and they loved seeing us grow together, have children, and care for one another. Their favorite thing was watching husbands and wives kiss. It comforted them knowing that at least we had the love they so desperately wanted. However, in the last few decades, things have begun to change. More and more people began to fight. Friends no longer wipe each other’s tears. Friends no longer made up. They held on to grudges and went their separate ways. Young ladies were breaking off their engagements to their finances and pursuing other men. Young men were breaking hearts left and right never truly settling down with one woman. It’s as if true love was disappearing.
The Sun and the Moon watched horrified as more husbands and wives fought daily. As technology began to grow and the world became faster, it became easier to separate and remarry. As skyscrapers went up the rate of staying together went down. Children were separated between houses. More fights over who would get to spend Christmas with the kids and less hugging, kissing. The Sun and the Moon would cry, heartbroken. Never to hold each other as they watched love die in the world.”
Bombay looked up and noticed his audience had grown even more. Dads and moms were sitting beside their kittens listening. A white Persian cat stood up and loudly shouted, “I get it!”.
“Get what?” Bombay asked curiously.
“Humans and animals are taking advantage of something so pure and precious. Something the Moon and Sun can never have.”
Bombay smiled and nodded. Yes, this was exactly what was happening. The world was becoming selfish. People weren’t slowing down to enjoy life. To get through the hard times no matter what. It was too easy to give up on one another.
One of the kittens stood up as well and turned around to the other cats.
“I know how to help the Sun and the Moon.”
“How’s that?” They all said in unison.
“We have to spread the word to everyone that love is not temporary, it is forever. We can’t give up on each other and we must do better. Then the Sun and the Moon can go back to the small comfort of happiness they used to have. Being able to see us love one another the way they wish they could.”
All the cats stood up and agreed excitedly. Chatter began to break out among them all. Bombay’s eyes began to water. His tall tale had finally done something good. It had begun to bring change. Bombay’s childhood was hard but he saw on that Friday night that it was all worth it. He hoped no more families would separate and no more kittens would be left alone on a doorstep. He hoped the young ones would grow up to find the right love. To hold out for true love so that it would last.
It was getting late and darkness was covering the hill. As all the parents were gathering their kittens to go home they all noticed a pale white glow begin to get stronger and stronger. Every surface was bathed in a beautiful light, just like a satin veil. Bombay looked up and the others followed his gaze. The moon was high in the sky. She was beautiful. One of the kittens asked one last question before starting his walk home.
“Is this a true story? Are the Moon and Sun really alive and in love?”
Bombay grabbed his belly and let out a deep laugh. “No. They don’t call me Bombay the Tall Tale for nothing. My stories are made up but the meaning is still very real.”
The kitten smiled satisfied with the answer and ran to catch up with his mom and dad. They were all heading home until next Friday. Bombay turned around going the other way back to his humble corner in an alley. As he walked he looked up into the beautiful sky and stopped. The moon seemed to look back at him with a smile. He could have sworn he saw her wink. He assured himself he was just seeing things. He smiled, shook his head, and walked home as the pale light lit his way.
Illustration and story copy write belong to Megan Alder. Follow for more short stories.