Andrea Dye and Tora Estep

Tora Estep
Inspiration piece

The Nocturnal Monk
By Andrea Dye

Sleepless nights led Monk outdoors to learn what the sun may never know. Feeling lost for his place in the monastery and unable to slumber, he became a daytime apparition. Spending more and more time exploring outside after sunset.

He searched beneath tall trees for a place to sit in contemplation and found a young fox emerging from her den.

“What are you looking for tonight?” Monk asked the furry stranger.

“Any mouse or rat will do.” The fox’s pupils pulsing as they scanned the shadowy forest. Her tail twitching ever so slightly. “I’ve got to beat the wolf, he scares off all my meals.”

And with a quick jump, she disappeared into the darkness. Not even a thump or crunch as her agile feet carried her away over discarded leaves and moss. Monk could not imagine searching the world in the dark to fill a hungry stomach. How unpredictable and lonely that must be, he thought.

Weaving through standing and fallen trees, Monk thought it best to sit on a nearby bit of cleared land lest he drift too far from home. Spreading his robe under his folded legs, he prepared to close his eyes and greet enlightenment. For he could not sleep, and this would be better than counting cracks in the bedroom ceiling.

Barely a moment passed, and silence broke as a lone nightingale called through the bare branches to him. He opened his eyes to see a flutter of friendly bats reply by scattering across a patch of moonlit sky. Imagine being scared off by the sound of a beautiful bird singing? What could be so important that they flew away so hastily? He supposed that is their nature.

Night after night Monk would pass the fox at her den and wish her bountiful hunting. He’d track the bats under dense cover only to see them flap and swirl away at any disturbance. He would listen for the nightingale’s song as an echo of his own longing.

Before the moon came Monk was often drowsy, but his nature was curious. His appetite for observation a source of conflict with his teachings. He learned the night is not the opposite of day, but rather the only solace for his hungry mind.


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