The sky was full of stars like jasmine flowers. It smelled of summer peace. The woman sat on her threshold, drinking tea. The tea was full of moonlight. She sipped that old, wrinkled moonlight and the gleanings of hedgerows - roses, nettles, elderberry leaves. And in her heart was peace.
Behind her, indoors, the television murmured something about someone who had done wrong. Something about people who were roaring for truth. She knew about that. She knew it decades ago. She had done her roaring; she had spent years with an open, aching throat. Still people needed to be roaring. Still truth seemed like a silent thing. The woman wondered how long people would go on roaring before they gained the strength to speak directly, when it counted the most. How much roaring would it take to make society kind, safe, supportive? How many arguments, how many swords?
Truth was a moon, she thought, drinking it down. Truth was a million flowering stars. Truth was that the monsters in the world were really only people, and mostly needed to be taught not to bite. Taught from the cradle up. Taught in school along with their times tables. Taught by example. Taught love by loving. Taught how to feed their monster voices with song.
The woman did not roar these days. She whispered instead to monsters when she met them, told them when their biting hurt - surprised them, more often than not, for they had never understood. She gathered leaves from hedgerows and peace from the moon to make herself strong enough to be quiet, gentle. She would never change the world with her whispers, maybe only a monster or two - but then again the whole world was in each heart of each monster, and if she could give one or two the moon, the fragrant stars, the truth in her skin and her eyes, that felt more powerful than roaring on into the electric light.
The woman smiled out nightward, even while the television blathered on. She chose where she looked, these days. Her choice may have been wrong (or not), but it was her own.
illustration by dorothy lathrop