The vines of the chesli plants twined partway up the trees. Only visible on a moonless night, the flower’s fuzzy, pollen-scattered centers glowed golden. Moths and insects of a hundred varieties flitted anxiously from one flower to the next, lugging glowing pollen that dusted the air like a thousand falling stars. Witches surrounded Senna and Mistin, their skin smudged and streaked with glimmering bits.
“Why are we doing this?” Mistin asked.
Sometimes Senna forgot Mistin was even newer to Haven than she was. “Because the chesli only blooms for a few nights a year, during mid-summer’s dark phase of the moon. Their pollen increases a potion’s shelf life exponentially without altering the potion’s properties—it’s a catalyst.”
With a wince, Mistin rolled her shoulders. “Why can’t we gather it during the day?”
Senna sighed. “Because the flowers close during the day.”
“We could pry them open,” Mistin grumbled.
“They’re too delicate. It would kill them and there’d be no seed, and therefore no flowers next year.” Senna gathered pollen by brushing a fuzzy cloth inside the flower. After the cloth was full, she shook it off inside a glass jar and went back for more. “Did I ever thank you for warning me?”
Mistin smiled a little. “You’re welcome.”
Soft trails of light following them, moths competed with Senna for the flowers as they bumped dumbly from one to the next. Her hands were brushed by wings that added their soft powder to her skin. To Senna’s surprise, she heard the flower’s music. They were calling for the moths, songs that seemed to paint the night with colors of light. The melody was so gentle and full of longing, she forgot about her own heartache and hummed along.
By unspoken agreement, she and Mistin worked steadily away from the others. Soon Senna’s skin glowed bright enough that the moths bumped into her as frequently as they did the flowers. As a general rule, she hated bugs. But these moths were so beautiful they didn’t really count. They were more like tiny, delicate birds than insects.
A soft touch startled her. She looked down to see a moth skimming along her palm. Another landed on her wrist. She brought the insect close, studying the intricate patterns on its wings. A third moth clung to Senna’s smallest finger, its tiny legs tickling so she had to fight to keep from wiggling and scaring the moths away.
She froze and let the moths come. They coated her hands, their wings working as they fought each other to get ever closer. Soon, her hands were covered in moths like living mittens. She must have some in her hair too, because they flitted next to her face, climbing the tendrils of her hair like vines.
She was so caught up with the moths that Mistin’s voice startled her. “Do they normally do that?”
“They’re lost without the moon,” Senna whispered so as not to frighten them.
Mistin was breathing hard. “Shake them off.”
But Senna didn’t want to startle them. So instead, she sang.
Off with thee, off with thee, off in the night.
Fly for the moon and stars so bright.
The music around her fell in harmony with her song, and the moths sprang away from her hands in an explosion of wings. In moments, they were again flitting from flower to flower in mass confusion. None came back to Senna. Her hands still tickling with the memory of their clinging legs, she watched the moths.
Her smile faded when she saw Mistin gaping at her. “Senna, you’re shining.”
Senna looked down at herself and she was shocked to discover it was true. It wasn’t just the pollen and the dust from moth wings. Away from the lantern light, her skin shimmered softly.
I kinda sorta love that section. It makes me want to be a Witch.
Have a great week everyone!