Like a preserved glimmer of sherbet-hued warmth from a past summer sunset, this fiction short is a reminder of simpler, sweeter times. Despite its gentle levity and charm, it poses important questions about how and why we can overcomplicate something as fundamental and essential as love. It asks what is true, what is real, and asks about the worthiness of intent concerning the worlds we create to thrive in. The piece is itself a depiction of the beauty of memory, of the moment, and an insulating space created to live and think differently about the important things within. The characters' innocence makes them rather wise beyond their years and full of sincere conviction. It is sure to bring a knowing smile to the youthful spirit in all of us.
Moonlight Takes Over
by Mark Joseph Kevlock
"Don't you think we're too young for this?" Dorothy said.
"No," Cleveland said.
They walked along the shoreline at sunset. Cleveland wanted to take her hand. But he was afraid.
"We're kind of just kids," Dorothy said.
She was at least a foot taller than he was.
"Kids used to get married in olden times," Cleveland said. "Kids used to rule the world—young princes and such. Princesses."
Dorothy could not imagine herself that way.
"I can't imagine myself that way," she said.
Cleveland paused, then said it anyway: "You can be my princess, Dorothy."
They kept walking. The sun kept sinking behind the waves.
"Love is a big thing," Dorothy said.
"The biggest," Cleveland said.
"People don't treat it with enough respect."
"No," Cleveland said, "they don't."
"We'll be different," Dorothy said.
Cleveland smiled. "We already are," he said.
It wasn't a real marriage, both of them knew. But what was real, anyway? The whole world was built of made-up concepts and imaginary structures. Maybe the truth inside was the only one that counted.
They piled three rocks on top of each other and used seaweed for hair. This was the minister. Two seashells and half of a boomerang were the witnesses. Dorothy and Cleveland stood on the rocky clifftop. The ocean provided their music.
The vows were simple and short. No one shed a tear. Love wasn't a prison to the young. It was a way of life.
Dorothy and Cleveland were wed.
"I don't feel any different," Dorothy said.
"I hope you never do," Cleveland winked at her.
The last light faded. Moonlight took over.
"It's like our own little world," Dorothy said.
"Everybody builds that," Cleveland said. He almost thought it sounded wise.
"It's depressing to think about leaving here," Dorothy said, "about going back."
"We won't ever go back," Cleveland said. "Not really. We'll live here in this place we've created. No one else can know about it. That makes it ours."
Dorothy wore the pull-tab from an old soda can around her third finger.
"Love makes the world a better place," she said.
"Especially our love," Cleveland said.
The moonlight gave everything a glow, a superior sheen.
"Do you ever think about the rest of our lives?" Dorothy said.
"Nope," Cleveland said.
"Me either," Dorothy said. "Why is that?"
Cleveland thought maybe he should stop and kiss her, his bride. "Because," he said, "our lives are right here in this moment."
Dorothy closed her eyes. "I suppose they are, aren't they?"
"Yep," Cleveland said.
Some force like romantic gravity seemed to be propelling him into action. Cleveland didn't fight it. He kissed Dorothy under the moonlight. The universe approved.
"Wow," Dorothy said.
"Yeah. Wow," Cleveland said.
The next month they both turned eleven.
Bio: Mark Joseph Kevlock has been a published author for nearly three decades. In 2018 his fiction has appeared in more than two dozen magazines, including 365 Tomorrows, Into The Void, The First Line, Toasted Cheese, Literally Stories, The Sea Letter, The Starlit Path, Fiction on the Web, Bewildering Stories, Ellipsis Zine, Yellow Mama, Down in the Dirt, Flash Fiction Magazine, and Friday Flash Fiction. He has also written for DC Comics.