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Shadows on the Moon

Kristine Kathryn Rusch


She leaned out the hotel window and felt the misty air on her face. A symphony of honking horns played to the beating of her heart as the cars below moved like well-lit ants. In the haze of artificial lights and a full moon the city stretched before her, buildings packed against one another like people on a subway.

She glanced back at the hotel room with its king-size bed, chrome lamps, and pale cranberry decor. A maid had come in and turned down the covers, leaving chocolates on the pillow. So tasteful, so refined—a glimpse of a life she had always wanted to have.

The fresh air beckoned. She pushed herself out the window and sat on the ledge. To her left the United Nations glistened, reflecting the city lights on its glass sides. Boats slid along the river. The mist caressed her, made her shiver just a little.

Come on, Wendy, you can do it,” said Peter Pan, her childhood hero, speaking in the voice of Mary Martin, from an album she used to play over and over. “You can fly if you think you can. All you have to do is believe.”

“Believe,” she whispered. She stared out at the night sky, the lights refracted through the mist, and refused to look down. Then she spread her arms and dived. For a minute, she flew.

For a minute, she believed.


***


Justin refused to let the bellboy carry his bags up to the room. Justin had lugged the clothes bag and duffel across three airports and in two cabs. He could handle an elevator ride to the fortieth floor all by himself.

He leaned against the mirror in the back of the elevator. The hotel specialized in mirrors. Instead of paint or wallpaper, someone had decided to cover the wall in reflecting glass. He had watched himself approach the elevator from five different angles, all showing his graying hair, his suit rumpled and travel-worn, and the frown that looked as if it were baked into his skin.

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