Part 2: Moonlight
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Stepping outside, I breathed a lungful of fresh nighttime air and felt alive. It was exhilarating. The light from the moon engulfed me and warmed me against the chill breeze. Looking around, I couldn’t find Polly anywhere. But since she was not limited to a strictly horizontal plane, trying to find her was more difficult. Across the street from me, the streetlamp flickered and went out; its light joining a now-familiar orb floating above. A faint shower of dust floated lazily down from the lamp, and the light moved, revealing Polly standing on the top, holding her orb.

She waved at me from atop the metal pole and jumped off the lamp, fluttering down to the ground beside me. “I’m so glad you came, Rose!” She threw a hug around me, coating me in some of that powder, which seemed to be coming from her wings. It tingled where it touched my bare skin. I felt myself melt into Polly’s embrace. Human… or moth… contact felt so unbelievably nice, especially with how soft and fuzzy she was. My thoughts drifted around the idea of asking if I could stay with her, wherever she lived. Even if this night was all some pitiful trap, I think I would always value her hugs. 

“Now we must move very fast. Hurry!” She vaulted into the air and flapped to the next streetlamp, then the next after that. I had to all but sprint to keep up with her. 

Periodically, she would stop and draw the light from one of the lamps, letting them wink out and giving me a moment to catch up and catch my breath. With each stop, her glowing orb grew in size. It started as no bigger than a tennis ball when she took the light from my desk lamp, but after twenty minutes of running, it was nearly the size of her head. 

“W… where are we going. Polly,” I panted. Due to body image issues, I’d never been one for exercise and that mistake was paying me back now. I rested my hands on my knees as my lungs decided whether they wanted to keep working or not. 

“Not much further, Rose. We are almost to my home.” She said. Exertion played at her voice as she worked the light out of yet another streetlamp. 

“I thought you couldn’t take light without permission.” I said as air found its way back into my body. 

“I cannot take light that another person is responsible for. But, no one cares for these lights.” She caressed the pole she was sitting on like she was trying to comfort it. “So, they can offer their light to anyone. I may take their brightness to make your light better. I want to give the greatest gift I can, and making this light bigger makes it better!” Polly smiled with radiance and wiggled at me in excitement, sending another shower of golden dust cascading down. Some of it got in my hair and I tried to shake it out, but the motes stuck. I was slowly becoming coated in the powder and I would have to take a shower when I got home… If I ever got home.   

We continued on in this process for a few more minutes, and by that time I had completely lost track of where I was. Finally, down the street, I saw a gate leading to a massive forested area. I didn’t remember there ever being such a large park in the vicinity, but working so many jobs meant I didn’t ever really explore the city. Polly had gotten ahead of me and was doing her light ritual on another streetlamp, just across from the gate. 

I stared through the fence into the forest beyond. It felt endless, like I could walk in a straight line for days on end and never find the other side. The thick foliage of the trees captured all the light, leaving everything below them an inky void. 

“Rose!” Polly was now perched on the arch of the gate. “Come, we must hurry!”

I froze before entering the gate. The path forward was like a portal into nothingness. The trees and branches curved around the trail forming a tunnel that had bored its way through this bastion of nature. The air was colder here, older… ancient. I stepped through the gate and into the unknown forest. 

Polly hopped between low-hanging tree branches. 

“Where are we going?” It felt like time had stopped in here, and panic edged my voice. 

“Not much further. You’ll see!” Polly’s excitement abated my growing fear, but I still felt the woods judging me, interrogating my worth. 

Eventually, I saw another light far in the distance. I could hear my guide gasp and she fluttered toward it in a flash. The light was an orb, similar to Polly’s, but more blue in color. It felt sad. A woman very similar to Polly was holding it, perched on bough above us. She had blazing red hair and her wings were gray with two great white stripes flowing down from her shoulders. Her scarf or fuzz collar was a creamy white. The new moth broke into a broad grin upon seeing us both. 

“Polly!” She clicked. “It is almost time. There is  sky visible in the forest ahead which you may use.”

“Cece! I am very glad to see you.” Polly said, as she flew to her branch and sat down. 

The pair began talking about what they had done in an animated manner, but my attention was stolen by another light flickering on in front of me. A person was leaning against the tree, holding an electric camping lantern. They held it up so we could see each other. They looked as bedraggled as I felt. They ran a hand through their short hair, and I saw what looked like a binder peek out from their tanktop. 

“Hey.” They extended a hand. “Name’s Hawk.” 

I shook it. “Rose.”

“What’s your story then? ‘Cause I woke up to my dogs barking something fierce, and found that one trapped on top of my barn.” They thumbed at the other moth girl. “Well, I guess she weren’t trapped, but still.”

I nodded and laughed. “Pretty much the same for me. Polly was trying to stick her arm through my window.” 

We talked for a few minutes before Cece and Polly alighted on the ground next to us. Cece pulled Hawk close, and held their face with both hands. “Brother. Are you ready?”

“I ain’t got no clue what’s happening, so… yes.” He said. 

“Wonderful!” Cece grabbed his hand and dragged him behind her. They waved at us as they receded. The lantern and orb bounced along the path and through the trees, until it was swallowed by the woods. I looked at Polly. 

“What was that? There are more of us?” 

She nodded and locked eyes with me. “Yes. Sometimes, when we search for gifts, we find lost souls.” Tears formed in her eyes. “And lost souls often create the most beautiful light because they wish to be found. We can feel their pain. It is one of the most important joys in our lives when we can find a lost soul and show them the greatest light of all. And I want to share that with you.” 

“I don’t understand.”

She nodded. “Let me show you. There is a place nearby that we can use for the gifting.” Polly took my hand and we tore off in a different direction from the other pair. We soon burst out of the woods onto a hill. It was ringed by trees, but the knoll itself was only covered in swaying grass and flowers in full bloom, despite the late hour. 

The moon shone brilliantly, no longer blocked by the dense leaves. Stars speckled the entire night sky like millions of snowflakes. Each light felt infinitesimally different from the next, as they watched me from their seats in the deep blue heavens. There were no man-made lights anywhere. The light pollution from the city was gone, replaced by moon and starlight that was greater than anything a human could make. We were alone with these celestials. My jaw dropped open and I couldn’t tear my eyes from the magnificence above me. I don’t think I had ever seen something so beautiful. 

I know Polly was looking at me, staring at me with a proud affection. Somehow she knew how I would react, and I felt my heart skip a beat. Out of everyone in the world, she wanted me to see this. I fell to my knees and screamed in raw emotion. My fears and worries fled like tears and I let them pour down my face. I don’t think I had ever truly seen the sky until this night. And I don’t know if I’d ever be able to look away. 

I felt like I could understand why Polly called it the Great Light, and why ancient peoples worshiped the moon as a goddess. Polly stroked my hair, and brought me back to reality. 

“The gifting is about to begin, Rose.” She whispered in my ear. “If you’d like to watch.” 

I forced my eyes away from the sky, and it felt like I left part of my soul up there. Focusing back on my guide, I lost my breath as I watched her, bathed in the moonlight. I’d called her cute before, but in this divine gleam, she was beautiful. I wished with all my heart that I would be able to see her again after this is all over. A dark pit in my soul began to whisper sweet poison into my thoughts. She could never love me. I shouldn’t even try. My body took a step back, beginning the process of fleeing. It may have been paranoia, but somewhere, in the back of my heart, I felt that if I left this clearing, I would never find my way back.

Polly turned her head and smiled softly. Her eyes beamed at me and my feet froze. She saw me, saw through me, and her smile was a panacea. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, as she tilted her face to the sky. With slow, graceful movements, she kneaded and worked her orb of light with both hands, slowly lifting it above her head. A finger at a time, she released it. 

As she let go of the light, it remained floating above her head, still radiating that comforting presence that had lulled me to sleep so many times. I felt the light pierce me, and I somehow knew that it was glad to have guarded me for so many years. 

Polly let go of her breath, and released the light from whatever was holding it in place. Like a floating paper lantern, the orb drifted into the sky. I wanted to ask her if that was it, but my tongue wouldn’t work. 

The orb crested the treeline as it floated upwards, and soon, hundreds of other orbs of light joined it from other places in these ancient woods. Each one was different. They were different colors, sizes, everything, and I knew behind each of those lights there was a story. It felt like reality ground to a halt as they found their way upwards. There were so many hanging in the sky, and my heart opened at their sight. Nothing made a sound in the woods, and no one else was in sight, but for the first time, I didn’t feel alone. 

My eyes followed the orbs on their heavenward journey, until I was once again enthralled by the moon. One by one, the lights were absorbed by the greatest of lights that hung above us. With each one, I felt the moon grow brighter. It was watching me, I could feel that. The comforting presence of the moon eased me, and a tingling filled my body. 

Beside me, Polly whispered. “Would you like to offer your own light?” I nodded without a moment of hesitation. Without tearing my gaze from the moon, I opened my bag and removed several glowsticks, cracking them to allow their chemical light to shine forth. 

I could feel Polly smile as I did so. It was a happy smile, and I could feel my own play at my lips. 

“Let me help you.” She sat on the soft grass and pulled me down beside her. She took my hands, each holding a bundle of glowing plastic. “Set them on the ground.”

I once again tore myself from the moon and watched what I was doing. She met my eyes as I looked down, and I saw that she was looking at me with love. I turned away and blushed, but she caught my cheeks and turned me back. 

“It will be ok, Rose.” She rested her head against my own, and stroked my neck with her antennae. I shut my eyes tight. “You can do this… Now, touch your lights. Try to feel them.” 

With my head held against hers, I brushed the glowsticks. Where they had been cold plastic before, there now was a faint warmth to them. The warmth felt pliable and elastic, like sticking your hand in clay. 

“Good.” Her voice was beginning to send shivers down my spine. “Now try to pull the light towards you. Towards your soul. Let your own light combine with what you have brought.” 

I worked my fingers into the soft sensation of the glowstick’s light. I felt the magic tug against my fingers, but I slowly worked it towards me. A warmth began to flood through me from my heart. Was this my light?  

With each second, the light felt harder to manage, and I desperately clawed at it, trying to maintain what little control I had. I felt it begin to slide away, and a sob ripped out of my soul. 

“Sh...Shhh. Rose. Breathe. Let me help you.” She slid her hands over mine, and I felt a new warmth emanate from them. My heart fluttered, but I don’t think that was the magic. With her aid, I felt the light rise from the ground, and I opened my eyes. 

We were holding an orb of yellow and pink light. It pulsed in time with my heartbeat, each thump sending the colors swirling. Polly slowly drew her hands back, leaving me to hold the orb by myself. But the warmth she gave me remained. 

“Send it up. Release it to the Great Light.” 

Attempting to push the orb up was like trying to keep a water balloon completely filled after the balloon had already popped, but somehow I managed. I forced the swirling mass upwards, closer to the moon. 

“Now let go.” 

And I released it. The orb sat above me, floating in the air. I tried to shoo at it to get it to float upwards but it simply stayed there. I looked at Polly for help. 

“Make it an offering to the Great Light.”

I didn’t quite understand, but I nodded, not trusting my words to work. I tried to push my orb higher but it remained just out of reach. I stood there awkwardly staring at my ball of light. What the hell was I doing? I can’t do anything. Suddenly my fears reared their ugly heads once again. I was a failure. I couldn’t even move this stupid light. It figures that the only time a person has ever shown me kindness, I pay her back by being a failure. I can’t—

The words evaporated from my thoughts as soon as I felt Polly wrap me in her arms. I buried myself in her shoulder, letting another sob escape. What was I doing? I can’t fail now. How do I make this light an offering?

I looked up at my light floating above us. I willed it towards the moon, and it jumped upwards slightly. Polly squeezed me tighter and whispered. “You almost have it.” I imagined it flying towards the moon, and it jumped again, but otherwise remained still. “You need to let go, Rose.” I kept on trying to imagine moving my light with my mind but nothing happened. Minutes passed and I still couldn’t move the orb.

“I can’t do it. I’m sorry, Polly. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. The moon can do whatever she wants with my light.” As I finally admitted that, the light shot upward, and I all but collapsed. “What happened, what did I do?”

Polly smiled down at me. “You gave her your offering and recognized her for who she is.” She looked up at the moon. “The Great Light has accepted your offering.” 

My colorful orb shot into the sky and joined a second wave of lights that I hadn’t noticed before. There were fewer this time, less than a hundred. All of these orbs were strange and misshapen. Other lost souls. Off to my left, one of the lights caught my attention. It was blueish-white, the same color as the lantern Hawk was holding. I smiled at it and hoped that he could feel it. 

The trail of lights wound their way into the abyssal sky, and were eventually absorbed into the moon like the ones before them. Polly and I watched them disappear, one by one. As my own orb joined them, I felt something change. I’d been personifying the moon for some time, but this was the first time I felt her as a person. I looked up and I knew that she was smiling at me. She was proud of me. She wanted to protect me. 

Polly tapped my arm. “Put your hands out. The Great Light wants to give you a gift.” 

I offered my hands to the moon, and let them bathe in her light. Standing in the middle of the moonbeam, I felt a liquid fall into my hand. It was pleasantly warm, like holding a freshly hatched chick. Lowering my arms, I saw that cupped in my palms was a pool of liquid light. Silver and gold mixed together to create a shimmering pool. 

“Rose.” Polly suddenly sounded very nervous. “She has given you her light. If you drink that…” She shuffled her feet in the grass. “You could stay here. With us. The other Sisters and Brothers and Siblings. But if...” Her voice trembled. “If you don’t want to. I-I can guide you back to your home. But… please. I want you to be happy, and I want to be with you. Please stay.” 

She looked at me, pleading, and I felt stunned at her words. “Really? How?” 

“The Great Light always wishes for her grandchildren to be happy, and you did not seem happy. If you accept her gift, you can stay here.” She began twiddling her fingers again. “And we could maybe hug or hold hands more.”

I looked at the light in the palm of my hands. It radiated up and tantalized me with a possible future. A future where my parents couldn’t touch me, a new start. I probed at the liquid with my thumb, and basked in its warmth. But what would I be giving up? Jobs that don’t care about me. Bills, rent. What would I give up if I didn’t accept this gift? Everything, the moon told me. 

I looked up at her, and realized I had already made my decision. I had made my decision the moment I met Polly. I lifted my hands to my lips and drank until there was nothing left. 

I instantly felt warmer as the Great Light’s gift coursed through me. Every shadow that I had ever hosted in my thoughts was driven out by a gale of love as the moon embraced me both outside and within. My senses dulled, but I vaguely felt Polly join the embrace, holding me tight not just with her arms, but with her wings as well. 

I remember falling. Falling forever. And falling in love. I fell into Polly as she cocooned us with her wings, and I felt safe. I melted into her embrace completely as my mind turned to jelly. This all felt so nice. The points on my skin where her dust had fallen on me began to glow and spread. Their tingling  compounded with the gift I was given. And in that moment, I let myself breathe. I fell asleep in her arms. In her wings, unsure what the next day would bring. 


I don’t know how long I was asleep for. But the sun was out when I woke up. I found I was laying on a bed of moss, inside what seemed like a hollowed-out tree. The moss was soft and springy and smelled faintly of nectar, a far cry from the cheap mattress I was used to. A red blanket with a texture like velvet covered me. It was warm, but the sun shining through the window welcomed me anyway. I pushed the blanket aside, to discover that it was a very large rose petal. Or else I was suddenly very small. 

Underneath the rose blanket, was my body. It felt different now, in a good way. The cobwebs that had plagued my mind for years were gone, and a complete peace filled me. A sigh escaped my lips as I looked over my new body. I had boobs now, which was great. I’d always dreamed about beginning hormones, but a lack of money and support prevented that. My new breasts were covered in a similar dense fur as Polly’s, except where hers was a brown, mine was a brilliant pink. The fur spread around my entire body up to my neck, where I now had a very poofy yellow collar. I fluffed it with my hands and marveled at how soft it was. Like running my fingers through a cloud. Above that, it thinned to relatively normal skin. There was no unwelcome weight between my legs anymore either, and I luxuriated in this newfound freedom. I wasn’t wearing any clothes, but despite that, I didn’t feel naked. I just felt… right. 

An unexpected weight shifted on my back as I stood up. I had wings. They were a tie-dye of pink and yellow, in shades that seemed suspiciously close to a certain set of glow sticks. They drooped on the ground behind me in a lazy fashion. I gave them a tentative flap, and laughed when they moved. It felt so surreal, but they were absolutely gorgeous. I ran my hands down the wings, marveling at the sensation. I realized I was now incredibly soft as well. The thought made me laugh again. I leaned against the window, letting the gentle breeze ruffle my new hair. I could feel it rustling the new growths on my head as well. Two antennae poked out through my now golden hair. I twitched them this way and that, relishing the alien sensation of having new muscles to control. It was nice, like being able to stretch a limb that I never knew I had. 

I sensed her before I saw her. It was like an aroma that I could smell from miles away, but my antennae were what was detecting it, rather than my nose. It was an alien, but not unpleasant sensation. I instinctively knew what I was sensing was Polly. It was sweet, and calm, and sensed faintly like roses. A fluttering below the window caught my attention, and I saw her flying to me, carrying a ceramic pitcher. She sighed happily when she saw me at the window, and alighted on the sill. “You woke up!” 

“I woke up!” I countered. 

“Yay! I brought breakfast.” 

I looked quizzically at the jug, but stepped aside so Polly could get in. She stepped down from the sill, sloshing the contents of the pitcher. On a table in the center of this tree-room were two clay cups, and she carefully poured the contents of her container into them. Her tongue stuck out in a silly way while she focused on her task and I giggled at the sight. 

Polly smiled at me with that same excited affection. “Try this.” She shoved one of the cups into my hand, taking the other for herself. I looked at its contents. The drink was liquid, but shimmered with hundreds of different colors. It looked like a soap bubble in liquid form. Polly had downed her own drink greedily and was now staring at me with expectation. 

I gave the drink a tiny sip, and instantly my world exploded. I swear to the Great Light, this was the best thing I had ever tasted. It tasted heavenly, like the sweetest, freshest juice that I had ever had, and I downed the drink almost as quickly as Polly had. I panted as I finished it. The flavor was unidentifiable, but definitely fruity, and all I knew was that I wanted more. 

I think Polly could see that in my eyes, because she giggled mischievously. “It’s nectar. From one of the lilac trees. I knew you would like it. Although I did not get much because I was unsure when you would awaken.” 

I stared at the bottom of my cup. “I think it’s unfair to give me this and then run out.” I looked up at her and gave a half-cocked smile. “I want so much more of this.” 

Polly wrapped me in a hug, and for once we were the same size. I hugged her back and smiled at how soft both of us were. I giggled again, letting my light, airy voice wash over me. It was so refreshing to not hate the way I sounded for once. 

We broke our hug and smiled at each other. It felt like the start of a new adventure, the start of a new life for me. I met her eyes, which were smiling at me. 

“So what now?” 

She clapped again with excitement, her antennae bouncing in time. “Oooh, we can go meet the other Sisters and Brothers and Siblings. And get more nectar. And make nut bread. And—” without even a pause, she snatched my hand and yanked me through the window, which also served as a door, evidently. We took off into the morning sun, flying over an ocean of flowers and plants, between trees and bushes, and around boulders and mountains. 

The world was beautiful. And for the first time, I truly felt at home. I was happy. 

Thanks for reading the second half of this story. Stay tuned for the epilogue!

Cece's design is based on the Cecropia Moth. And Rose's new body is based on the Maple Rose Moth (The objectively cutest moth)