Days of Grey: Day 4

When she was born, she slept much. Her cries when first she emerged were soft and quickly quieted when place in my arms, and when the midwife was left, I spent hours (tired though I was) contemplating her as I cleansed her skin, gently wiping the effluvia of her gestation from her soft translucent skin. There was barely any hair upon her scalp, and her hands balled up beneath her tiny chin.

They were waiting for me to declare her name, but one had not come to me yet. There was always a sign, among our people, that led a mother to the name of her child. Some names had great auspicion. Some bore ill-luck. Usually the name came whilst laboring, but nothing had happened to encourage me to bestow a name upon her. One would come to us, just as when I had born, the cry of a bird had earned me the name of Avis.

Despite the waiting outside, the village was quiet; I could faintly hear the sound of voices and the crackling of fire as I rested, and along with my own weariness decided night must have come. Indeed, no light spilled into my tent through the cleft between the flaps, left ajar by the midwife to let in air to sooth and cool me.

“Who are you, my sweet?” I murmured softly, running the cloth gingerly under the corner of her wee jaw.

My answer came in the form of another small creature entirely.

Through the open flaps, a moth flitted in. I half-noticed it, darting and sopping, fluttering along the interior of the walls, but moths frequently found their way indoors. I watched it rise toward the oil lamp that hung from the pole above us. But it did not rise to the lamp and circle the glass. It circled but once, and fluttered down like a cherry petal, to alight upon my sleeping daughter’s forehead.

There it rested, a pale, luminous blue-white, with great dark eyes at the base of its feathery antennae. Perhaps it was looking at me, but then it turned, minuscule feet ever so light upon my daughter’s skin as to not even begin to wake her. With its back to me, its wings swept open so sharply as to coat my daughter’s skin with a dusting of the pale powder from the underside of the wings, and its antennae swept in a wide arch before twitching in wee, arcane movements.

I was captivated by the pattern upon its wings. It was one of which I had heard, but never had seen; the interior of its swept-open wings were the same soft, luminescent blue as the outside, but decorated with a pattern of charcoal grey that resembled a single eye, gazing upon me. Somnium Tinea, the Dream Moth. These moths were so rare as to be creatures of legend, and it was said that those chosen by the moth could, in the light of the moon, see things that could not otherwise be seen: glimpses of the future, the truth behind lies and secrets. Paths to the Otherworld.

This one had come to us in the night, and chosen to land upon my unnamed daughter.

The cloth fluttered to the floor beside my cot, forgotten, as I lifted my hand to lay my fingertips gently against my daughter’s temple. “Tinea,” I whispered, naming her. At the word, the moth’s wing’s snapped sharply shut, and then it launched itself into the air, making for the doorway and disappearing into the night. It left behind, though, the thin dusting from its wings, and etched into it by its wee feet and feathered antennae was the same shape that had been hidden inside its wings. A new eye, upon my daughter’s forehead.

“Tinea,” I murmured again, and without stirring her eyes slid open, calm and dark, and she knew me.


This was written as part of Days of Grey, a daily writing project in which anyone can participate. Just go follow the page. A prompt image will be posted to it each day throughout the month of February, meant to inspire bright, warm, happy fictions – or poetry, haikus, memoir essays, visual poetry – anything to get the mind focused on warmth and light and joy.

The Day Four image prompt is from dendroica on Flickr, shared through a Creative Commons Attribution license. If you share or repost this image, please keep the attribution info intact.

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