Once upon a time long ago, when the Moon and Sun and Stars were not so far away as they are now, a woman lived all alone. She had no family, and she was terribly poor. To make her home, she collected the leaves of the tombo palm. She built a tiny hut. There she lived quietly for many years, picking berries and plants for her food. She could afford nothing more. But all was well for a long time. She enjoyed the world for all it offered. Above all else, she loved the light of the Moon.
In those days, the Moon was full of rich meat, and she was always fat. People worshipped her light and sang her praises. They could not imagine their lives without her. But in those days too, sometimes the Moon came to Earth during the daytime to visit. She loved to visit. She loved observing the way the people lived their lives. She felt great love for all the people, and she especially loved the woman who lived in the hut made of the tombo leaves.
One year, drought came to the land. The rivers grew dry. The plants withered. The berries shriveled. And soon the woman in the tombo palm hut began to starve. The Moon saw this, and she felt sorry for the poor woman. She saw how hungry she was. She watched as she grew so skinny, she could barely move outside her hut. The woman was so weak, she could no longer do anything but lie on the mud and wait to die.
The Moon thought her heart would break. She decided she would sacrifice some of her own meat to feed the woman. And so she came for a visit.
The Moon peeked into the door of the hut, and the poor woman looked up at her, smiling at the sight of one she so loved.
"Welcome to my humble home," the woman said. "Please, come in."
The Moon stepped inside and looked down at the woman and said, "Please, cut away some of my meat for your food. I have plenty. You can see that I am big and round and full and fat. Nothing will happen to me if you take some away."
At first the poor woman resisted, but the moon was forceful. "You must eat. You must live," she insisted.
And so very carefully, the woman sliced off a tiny piece of the Moon's flesh. The moment she tasted it, she felt stronger.
"Thank you, oh thank you! I can never offer you enough thanks," the woman said.
But the next day, the Moon came again, and once again she insisted the woman eat some of her meat.
After that day, the Moon came every day to visit the woman in the palm hut. "Take some more," she always said. "Take enough to fill you up."
Each day, the poor woman sliced off a little more meat, and each day the Moon grew smaller and smaller. When she returned to the sky, she was not quite so bright and fat, and to the others looking up at her, she began to look thin. Then she seemed skinny. She gave off less and less light.
The people began to grumble about this. "Why is our Moon growing so thin?" they whispered among themselves. "What has happened to her? Why has she changed? Let us try to fix this trouble."
And so people began to follow the Moon when she came to Earth. They followed her to the tombo palm hut.
When the people looked inside and saw the woman with her knife carving the meat out of the Moon, they understood. They ran back to tell all the others.
The very next day, the Moon came to visit again, but when she reached the woman's hut, she saw a crowd standing outside the door. As the poor woman walked outside with her knife, prepared to cut her daily slice of meat, the people began to shout at her.
"Leave our Moon alone!" they cried. "Put away your knife!"
"You must not harm our Moon!" they urged. "She belongs to all of us!"
The poor woman of the tombo palm hut was terrified, and the Moon was, too. She had never seen the people so angry. She had never heard their voices so shrill and laced with fury. The Moon raced away, back up to the sky, and the woman hurried back inside her hut.
After that day, the Moon never again returned to Earth. No one knows what happened to the poor woman in her tombo palm hut, for no one else came to her rescue.
But ever since that day, the Moon has chosen to remain in the sky. During the day she hides -- they say she fears the people's anger. Once during each month, she appears to be as fat as ever, round and bright, radiating light and reminding us all of her glorious days, and of her generosity.
But as the days pass, the Moon grows thinner and thinner. Some people say she is remembering the woman in the tombo palm hut. They say she grieves for her. Others say she still gives away a part of herself for the sake of others -- that there must be other women carving away the meat that once was the Moon's flesh.
But everyone celebrates the day each month when the Moon returns again, as full and fat and bright as she ever was.
"Tell Me a Story 3: Women of Wonder," the third CD in the audiobook series, is now available. For more information, please visit www.mythsandtales.com.