The Lunar Express
by Steve Uppendahl
“Daddy, do miracles really happen?”
“Once in a blue moon they do, sweetie.”
“Really? Why there?”
His booming laughter makes her smile and blush.
“Because it’s a special, magical place.”
Joey Links is dreaming again. He gives a mournful sigh of recognition as shivers begin to rock his thin body. He knows this dream well, but can do nothing to stop it or lessen its effect. His head tosses back and forth on his pillow. Painful grimaces distort his freckled face as she strikes him again and again. Even in his dreams his mother’s thudding blows and shrieking voice seem to pummel him. He’s saved from the brutal climax when the familiar double creak of his sister’s window awakens him.
Erin Links squats on her windowsill, looks up at the ceiling and gives a close-mouthed smile. She repositions the straps of her bulging, faded pink, Dora the Explorer backpack, then leaps forward, tumbling across the stiff, yellowed lawn. Popping up to her knees, she turns and waits. Joey appears at his window, nods and drops a well-knotted rope made from their father’s old tee-shirts. Being twelve years old and eager, Joey is by his sister’s side in mere seconds.
“I can’t believe we’re doing this.”
Erin gives her patented lopsided grin and hugs her brother.
“This is the night. I’ve checked again and again. It’s happening.”
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