Author : Beth Mathison

The thin slice of the moon slipped past her window frame, into the night sky waiting for it.

There were people there on the moon, they told her, although some days she doubted their stories. Her parents told her many things – that human beings had built space ships to travel to distant stars. That there were rooms, buried deep underground, that held all sorts of miracle cures for diseases. They told her that at one time you could talk to another person across the planet in an instant, by picking up a piece of machinery. People used to live on the moon, they said, living together in tight groups called colonies. Her parent’s expressions turned sad, when they spoke of such things. Emily didn’t ask about them often.

She thought about it, though, especially at night. What the world had been like. At ten, she was old enough to know the difference between fairy tales and reality. That past, when the world supposedly sparkled with magical things, seemed too much like a fairy tale.

Emily lay on her bed, a down comforter tucked under her chin, and watched the sky through her bedroom window. Her mother allowed her to keep the thick shutters open every so often, when Emily had that trapped feeling. During the day, she loved the colors of winter, the sharp scent of curing meat as her father worked outside, helping her mother can fruits and vegetables from the hothouse to store in their pantry. At night, however, her thoughts turned to the long days ahead of them. Having to stay indoors in some days if the thermometer told them they’d get instant frostbite if they went outside. Rationing wood and food and everything else.

Her father had taken her to a city once. He said he wanted her to see what lay under the snow and ice. Standing at the edge of a cliff, holding his mitten-covered hand, he pointed out the lumps and dips in the landscape. People used to live there, he told her. In cities filled with people and animals and machines that moved.

Looking out her window, she wondered if a journey to the stars were as cold as the world. The blackness of space surrounding those people traveling to the moon, the earth falling behind them like a dream.

Snaking a hand out from underneath the covers, she pressed her palm against the frosty glass. She would close the window soon, as the night pressed in against her. But for now, she felt the cold filling her warm hand and imagined another girl, laying in her own bed on the moon. Pressing her hand against the cold window of glass, watching the earth slide past her window.

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