's 2014 Horror Write-off:

" Lunatic "

Submitted by Nelke

It's funny how the folk tales of my childhood come back to me, now that I have lived for years in this aseptic country, so far away from the world I came from. These days I find myself remembering the smoke of the hearth, the rugged wood of the stairs under my feet, the wind howling in the last December nights.

I recall the superstitious advice from a plethora of relatives, neighbors, and friends of the family: do not follow any lights in the countryside. Do not disobey your parents, or the Camuņas will come for you. Do not wash your hair during your menses, nor make mayonnaise, or you wil become sterile. Do not mention the goblins or the fairies, for their name awakes their attention.

Old wives tales, all of them, some ridiculous fictions to scare a little girl, some others advice passed down from their mothers or their grandmothers, others just inventions spun by bored people around a fire. The moon was prominent in many of them. If you stare at the moon for too long, it will take your sight away. You will also become insane ("insane" being, for little me, a mysterious and scary word).

The really scare ones, however, came from old Elisa. She looked as a tree root since I remember her, stooped but not broken, widow since decades, still active and busy in her eighties. She told me to stay at home in the full moon. She told me a story about a shepherd who once followed a silvery path to never come back, and that it could happen too to kids who daydream too much.

These stories scared me sleepless. I never understood the contrast between this down to earth woman, who fed a small army every day without complaint, and her obsession with the moon. But time made me forget, and move away, and for years I did not see her.

She died on Christmas Day last year, at 97. I was lucky to be back for holidays to have my opportunity to say goodbye. I will not talk about her last days, her thinness, her fear, her lucidity. It was over soon, and the bureaucracy of death took over, and we left the village after the burial. I think of her more and more often, as the anniversary of her death comes and the world grows darker and colder. I really have too much free time to ruminate. I daydream too much, and lately I have been considering that my eyesight has actually become very bad. I sometimes realize that I have talked to myself the whole day.

Every day I walk down the narrow, moonlit alley to my place, and I never meet anybody. I also cannot help to notice how the moon keeps getting brighter.