We never visited our grandmother much. She lived several states away, in a secluded region, and our extended family was kind of bad at keeping in touch with each other. Ironically, her death provided a great opportunity for us to all see each other. Her children and other close relatives all came in for the funeral, and to settle how the estate would be disposed of. And the house was large enough for all the families with kids to stay.
We had a lot of fun playing together, exploring the house and the surrounding land while our parents sorted through all grandma's stuff, separating it based on what they would throw away, what they would sell at the estate sale, and what they would keep for themselves. The house, being large and old,was a perfect place to play hide-and-seek and other games. We also spent some time helping the adults clean out the place. There were lots of interesting things to find. Old books, magazines, vinyl records, trinkets and knick-knacks collected over decades. But perhaps the most interesting items were those left by other children. Grandma often hosted other families who were traveling through the area, since it was so remote from the nearest town. We found toys, clothing items, and drawings by these visiting kids.
The most interesting find to me was one of these drawings. It was just some black crayon stick figures drawn on pink construction paper. Some of the figures had what looked like crude clothing items, but it was hard to tell. At the top of the page, in a child's handwriting, were the words "moonlite people."
I don't know why I was so drawn to the piece. It was just a basic child's artwork. I took it with me and pondered over it before going to bed. I dreamed of the Moonlight People, almost shapeless figures, dancing around, making strange high-pitched vocal noises.
When I woke up, it took me a few moments to remember I was in a strange bed,and in the interim I was disoriented. Once I got my bearings, I got up to use the bathroom and then spent some time reading a book by the light of the lamp on my nightstand. After a few short chapters, I went to look out the bedroom window.
I looked down at the garden, which consisted of some flower beds, statues, a trellis,and a sun dial as the centerpiece, which rested on top of a stone patio. The full moon shined bright, illuminating the garden and the yard beyond.
The light of the moon cast shadows over the patio, creating a dappling effect, making the garden appear alive and animated. I gazed on with relaxed fascination. It was a beautiful and calming picture.
I don't know how long I had been looking when I noticed the figures. At first they appeared as block dots, moving about the patio. As they came into focus, I saw tiny arms and legs, heads, and what looked like hats and pieces of clothing. I don't know how I saw so much detail from the second floor, but I realized I was looking at the beings from the "moonlite people" drawing. They danced in a circle around the sun dial,sometimes breaking off to dance in pairs or alone before forming back up. I couldn't tell if the circle was moving clockwise or counter-clockwise. It was definitely moving in some direction, but at the same time the figures seemed to paradoxically stay in one spot, like an animation of a crowd whose members were made to twitch in a certain way to give the illusion of group movement. It was mesmerizing.
I stared in fascination a while longer. I didn't notice the approaching storm until it arrived. A fierce wind started blowing, and the clouds blocked out the moon. As the rain came down, I saw the little figures scattering, ducking under garden plants and disappearing from view.
I know for certain that this experience was not a dream. That said, my rational adult brain assures me that it had to be some kind of childhood fantasy or illusion. And yet, part of me still believes the experience was real. I should know better, and I've never considered myself superstitious, but I still wonder from time to time about those little moonlight people. Sometimes I even consider returning to the house to investigate, though I have no idea who owns it now.
And I still have the drawing.