The Lady In The Moon This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

   "No more moon cakes?!? But that can't be! They're supposed to make extraduring the August Moon Festival!" A slow but sure tear trickled down mycheek. I had been looking forward to the deliciously sweet taste of those mooncakes for a long time.

"Oh, well. Next year we'll come earlier,"my mother replied nonchalantly.

Next year! How could I wait? Reluctantly Ifollowed her out of the crowded pastry shop and away from the richaromas.

Taking one last, longing look at the other goodies I demanded,"Not next year a tomorrow!"

My mother turned around."Hmmm?"

I gasped and started to back away. Instead of thefamiliar face of my mother, I saw an old lady. Enclosed by the mass of wrinkleson her face two soft, young-looking brown eyes glittered. This lady wasn't mymother.

"Don't be afraid, child. I won't hurt you." Her voicewas as smooth and sweet as honey. Her gentle pink lips curled upward into thekindest smile I'd ever seen. I relaxed.

"Tell me, what is all thisabout moon cakes?" she asked, taking my hand.

I toldher.

"Ahh," she replied, giving my hand a squeeze, "I knowa lot about moon cakes."

With the gracefulness and serenity of a swanshe led me to a nearby bench."But first," she said once we were seated,"I'll tell you a story about the moon.

"Once upon a time therewas a very beautiful Empress named Chang O. Her husband, once a hero, had turnedbad. Hidden in his medicine cabinet, along with many other potions and pills, wasa special elixir that the Emperor of Heaven had given to him before he becameevil. It gave eternal life. Chang O knew about this elixir and her husband's planto drink it soon. Because she wanted to spare later generations of his cruelty,she snuck out late one night to drink it herself.

"Strangely enough,upon finishing it, clouds formed beneath her feet and she began to rise up intothe sky. She never stopped rising until she reached the moon, where she has beenever since."

The eyes of the old lady grew distant and dreamy. Shewas silent for a while. Unexpectedly, she continued:

"Chang O isvery lonely there on the moon. She misses her people, especially the children.She constantly watches over them to make sure they're safe. And often, when thenight is clear and the moon is full, you can see her shadow silhouetted againstthe shiny white moon."

We were both quiet for a moment after her talewas unwoven. There seemed to be some untold magic hovering aboveus.

Finally she broke the silence by saying in a louder, firmer tone,"Child, it's getting dark now. I must go." She reached beneath thebench. To my surprise there was a small bag. "Here, these are for you,"she said. "Take them and go find your mother."

I looked into thebag and jumped with glee to find five moon cakes stacked neatly inside. I turnedto thank her but she had already walked away. In the distance, under the silverymoonlight, I saw her stop and transform into a lovely young lady. Her long, blackhair flowed like water rippling down to her waist and instead of the plainclothes she had on before, she was wearing a long, white robe with wide, opensleeves. Only her eyes stayed the same a gentle, soft, and brown.

A puffywhite cloud appeared beside her and she stepped up onto it. Gradually she wascarried away. I watched, awed, until she was out of sight.

Finally Iturned around and saw my mother. Holding tight to my bag I ran over toher.

"Mama! Look what I got a moon cakes!" I shouted, pointingto it.

She looked at me with disbelief. "Fromwhere?"

"Chang O, of course," I replied with a smile.Reaching in, I took one out for us to share. It was still warm! While I wassplitting it, a most delicious smell rose up and tickled my nose. I took a biteand oh, did it taste good! A moist, melt-in-your-mouth filling was encased by asoft, chewy crust. When I finished every last bite of that luscious cake I lookedup at the moon. It shone bright against the huge black curtain of the sky, andagainst that a sure enough a was the graceful figure of Chang O.

Iwhispered, "Thank you."

Once again, her soft pink lips curledupward into the kindest smile I'd ever seen.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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