art by Ron Sanders
by R. C. Bartholomew
"Don't forget to take your growth inhibitor," came the anxious voice of his mother. She held out the ovaloid pill and Dash took it on his way out the door. It tasted bitter but all children living under the moon's low gravity had to take them. In school they showed movies of what happened if you didn't, how your body became extended and scraggly like a string bean.
He left the apartment but didn't go far, he just wanted to look once more at the sky. His dad had said you didn't get a better view anywhere else than from Luna City skydome with its panorama of Earth and the stars, unobstructed by atmosphere. A full Earth would have been more dramatic, but a waning blue half circle was what he got that day. His dad had taught him to recognize the various continents and oceans, but today they were obscured under a chaos of clouds.
Genie, with her black-as-space and braided hair, sidled next to him, looking up as well before getting bored. She gave him a sly smile then and asked, as he'd known she would, "You wanna play stingerbee?"
"Yes," he said, "but I can't."
"'Cause you're scared?" she asked.
"My family is moving," he said, not returning her teasing. "We're leaving today."
Her eyes widened. "Where are you going?"
He gave a significant nod to the big blue crescent that dominated the sky. "Up there," he said.
The shuttle had been disappointing to Dash. It had no windows and then he hadn't even gotten to see Earth. When he woke up he was in a hospital bed right back in Luna City with his mother crying in a chair by his side. Her face partially relaxed when she saw he was awake, but held onto some of the grief still.
"Why aren't we on Earth?" he'd asked her, but she only hugged him to her chest and cried some more.