And the Cow Jumps Over the Moon
Lighting white, lightning bright
Paint a wide streak in my eye
Hear the roar, hark the flight
Thunder comes after the sight
Rolling logs across the sky
Midnight; the heavens were illuminated from the eastern end to the
western end, by a spectacular display of atmospheric pyrotechnics.
It was lightning; slashes of white paint splashed across the canvas
that was the sky while thunder, with brotherly wrath, followed in
the aftermath. They forked with diabolic measures, piercing the clouds
with their countless barbed tongues while Snow Valley, Massachusetts
languished below, an earthbound entity lost beneath the fanfare of
the celestial symphony.
This was the time of summer storms; the thunder and lightning displays
may forewarn the occasional shower but otherwise, it was simply nature's
way of making a lot of noise. This was also the time for school holidays
and it explained the reason why many of the rooms in Xavier's School
for Gifted Youngsters were dark and uninhabited. Almost all of the
students have returned to their homes for summer holidays several
Emma Frost had only begun to appreciate the feeling of a well-earned
rest. Tonight's lightning storm had made her realise the luxury of
being able to watch the sky without compunctions of having to make
telepathic scans over the whereabouts of her wards. Sean had left
for Scotland to visit Moira. The constant buzz of mental thoughts
was unaccustomedly silenced and the physical orchestra was the only
thing she could hear.
Putting down the book she was reading, Emma walked forward to throw
open a window. The curtains billowed in the wind. A streak of lightning
illuminated the room followed by silence and then a roar of the thunder.
She stood there, absorbed by the spectacle in front of her. Sometimes,
the thunder roll was so loud that she could feel the ground tremble
under her. It was one of the biggest storms she had ever seen and
she lingered at the window for some time before retreating to her
bed to do some more reading.
Lightning flashed nearby, causing the electric currents to surge
and drenched the whole compound in darkness. Emma sighed and put down
her book. The heavens evidently have other plans for her, she thought
It was during a lull between one thunder crash and the next. She
heard the soft pattering of running feet outside her room. Instinctively,
she reached out to the trespasser and was caught off-guard when a
small figure carrying a brown teddy bear dove into her bed, hitting
the backrest with a muffled thud. It emitted a small gasp of pain.
Emma lifted her eyebrows.
As a response, the little girl began digging at the covers.
"Did you hurt yourself?"
A shake of the head or what looked like it as Vicky burrowed deeper
into the bed. Finding a measure of protection at last, her trembling
was finally reduced to an occasional quiver.
To say that Emma was surprised was an understatement. Things like
this don't happen as a rule. But the girls' dorm was devoid of company;
that, with the storm and the blackout would do wonders to a child's
imagination, she'd suppose.
Another flash lighted the room and she saw little hump beneath the
blanket brace itself against the inevitable crash that was to follow.
"Victoria - Vicky? Are you afraid of the thunder?"
It came and Vicky stiffened with fright. Superfluous question, Emma
thought and tried another tactic.
"There is nothing to be afraid of. It's simply noise, that's
Vicky peered at Emma during one of the lulls. She shook her tousled
"I guess you'd prefer to remain here for the night?"
Emma sighed. She made ample room for the child on the bed while Vicky
simply hugged her teddy bear closely, keeping to her allotted side
of the bed. After a while, silence reigned in the room.
The storm outside was showing signs of abating when Emma redirected
her attention to the window. The lightning came with less and less
frequency, leaving the room in increasing periods of darkness. It
was during one of those moments of rare illumination that she chose
to turn her head back to the room. Vicky was staring at her intently,
a serious expression on her young face.
"What's the matter?"
Emma was disconcerted and felt that she must fill the silence with
something. How long had the girl been staring at her? "Can't
go to sleep? The storm is ending soon."
A quiet nod.
Then, soft as snow -
"Tell me a story?"
Emma frowned, perplexed. This had never happened before.
"What do you want to hear?"
"Something new?" Asked tentatively.
She could have refused, Emma knew. But she realised that so little
was asked of her most of the time, even when it was within her duty
Nevertheless, after she had struggled over that wall of indifference,
there was another difficulty to surmount. What to tell for a story?
She dug into her memories, looking for stories from her childhood.
There were none; she had not been told much. Or if there had been
any in the first place, she had plainly forgotten them. State senators,
arch-villains and mutant-haters, she could handle all those just fine
Emma looked out of the window, desperate for some sort of inspiration.
Finally, her eyes lighted on a lone tree standing beside the biosphere.
She smiled and was brought to mind the strange phenomenon that occurred
there every dawn and twilight.
"See that tree over there?" She pointed beyond the window.
Vicky raised her head to look.
"Do you remember how many birds would land on that tree every
morning and evening?"
The little girl thought for a while and asked: "What kind of
"I don't know -" Emma was irritated by these little distinctions.
She ploughed on with her story. "Anyway, there is a reason why
that tree is so special to them. These birds - ravens -"
"Crows," Vicky put in helpfully.
"- Crows would land on the tree, countless of them, every morning
and evening. This was for the sole reason of holding a competition.
A competition to see which of them could - could sky-dive the best
"Yes. Now stop interrupting!"
She saw that Vicky was suitably chagrined. But Emma knew that she
was clutching at straws. She was prolonging the inevitable, the moment
when her imagination would fail and expose this pathetic story-telling
endeavour of hers.
"It was a difficult competition to win. The rav - crows had
to settle on the topmost branches of the tree. There they would fold
their wings and drop like a stone to the ground. But before that could
happen, each competitor had to unfold his wings and fly away. Or he'll
hit the ground, like this -"
Emma scurried for the book she had been reading, opened it and laid
it faced-down on the bed to demonstrate her point. She was strangely
proud over her ability to provide such an example.
Vicky looked as if she was on the verge of saying something, but
finally chose to keep silent.
"Now there was this one crow who wanted to win, although he
had no intentions to injure himself because of the competition. So
he had to find some sort of help somehow. This crow, we'll call him
- Caw. Caw knew that ordinary help wouldn't matter so he went to specially
ask, ask - Zephyr, God of the West Wind for aid."
Outside, the lightning storm had subsided totally.
"Caw flew to the westernmost part of the land where the god
lived, to ask for an audience. Now, Zephyr didn't have a body; people
simply feel a strong wind blowing at them when he talked. So when
Zephyr spoke to Caw, Caw was almost blown away."
Emma stopped to look at Vicky. The little girl's head on her hand,
and she had settled into a sleeping position.
"So Zephyr asked Caw, why should he help him? And Caw said,
'Because I'm clever enough to come and ask you for help.' But Zephyr
said that that would be cheating. And Caw replied: 'I could've pluck
all my feathers off if I didn't want to cheat in the first place.'
In the end, Zephyr was so impressed with Caw that he agreed to help."
"So the day of the competition arrived and it was Caw's turn
to jump. He knew that Zephyr was suppose to conjure up a strong wind
that would carry him away before he hit the ground. And so, Caw closed
his eyes -"
Emma turned again to look at Vicky. The child was asleep, clutching
to her beloved teddy bear. She breathed a sigh of relief. She had
been at her wits' end over how the story would end. That was not important
now, considering that her listener was already in a slumber.
But to all things, there was a resolution, even if such a resolution
was never intended to occur in the first place.
" - And so the cow jumps over the moon while the fork runs away
with the silver spoon."
She finished off lamely. The rest of the room was her only audience.
The soft pattering of rain outside came through; it did rain after
all. The window displayed a blurring mist of watery patterns. The
rich, invigorating smell of the earth seeped into the room and the
frogs in the nearby ditches began to croak.
It was a pathetic effort and Emma saw it for what it was. She saw
the sleeping child, lulled to a dreamy oblivion by her miserable attempt
of a fairy-tale, she was sure. Words could not describe what she felt.
The story telling was meant to be a diversion but it had become much,
She looked down and she looked away, seeking for the strength to
continue. What came to, was a compromise; she could never do this
if Vicky had been awake.
Reaching over, Emma brushed her lips over her daughter's cheek with
a goodnight kiss.
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