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“I don’t understand what happened.”
Every time Jenifer Hamp said this her lip would curl showing her canines and her brow would furrow deeply, as if to crush her eyes between cheek and forehead. Her eyes never got wet enough to be properly called crying, but she looked miserable enough to make Bolin squirm uncomfortable while watching her as if it felt like he were intruding on some private crisis instead of the nightmarishly public one that this was likely to become.
They were sitting across from each other in an empty storage room. A table and two chairs had been dragged in and the light bars had been set to a soft blue giving the room the impression of being underwater.
“Maybe you could tell me what happened as best as you can remember it?” Bolin suggested.
“I don’t understand what I’m doing wrong,” she said.
She would have been a very attractive woman, but with the almost tears, the wretched expression, the bruises on her exposed arms, and the sweat stained nightgown she looked pitiful.
“Can you tell me anything?” he asked again.
“I don’t know what happened.”
“Can you tell me what year the Moon gained independence?” Bolin asked.
“September 18th, 2001.”
“I know you’re in there, Jenifer,” Bolin said. “If you know that date, then you can tell me what happened.”
“I don’t know what happened.”
“Did your husband and David fight?”
“I don’t know.”
“How did Jonathan end up on the floor?”
“How did he fall?”
She screwed her eyes shut.
“Jenifer,” Bolin said, “we’re going to need to know this.”
“I don’t understand.”
He threw up his hands and then stood.
“I’ll come back,” he said.
“Don’t go,” she said grabbing at his shirt.
He let out a cry and pulled away. Her hands grabbed air. They continued to fumble, fingers twitching, two or three seconds after he had pulled away. The motion was that of mechanical sewing, the tendons working with precision to move the fingers up and down.
“I’ll be back,” he said. His expression was strained. “Don’t worry.”
“No! I don’t want to be alone. You can’t leave me here. You can’t leave me here!”
He smiled at her and gestured at her to sit down even though she hadn’t risen. Instead she had leaned across the table with her arms extended, pleading.
It didn’t help her. Bolin left the room, ignoring her cries as if he were a machine deaf and blind to her protests, grinding her to dust.
Essica was waiting outside. She had been leaning against the module’s wall.
“How goes it?” she asked.
“It goes,” he said shrugging.
“What did she say?”
“Nothing useful,” he said, whipping his bald head with his hand and then his hand on his shirt. It left a trail of damp.
“Can you do me a favor?” Essica asked.
“If she confesses, remember it. Remember how she says it. It might be important later.”
Bolin looked at her surprised.
“Look, Yee’s a kid. She’s not. It might just save one of them in the end.”
“Okay,” Bolin said. He nodded. “But I don’t think she will. I think she’s gone crazy.”
“I doubt it,” Essica said flatly. “Just treat her softly. She’ll come around.”
Bolin nodded. He then walked over to the dome’s wall and gestured at it. The side he was facing grew murky and then transparent so that the utter blackness of the sky and the shadow cast by the jagged, worn lip of Jansen Crater fell into the room. The stars were fading in the sky, the sun was coming up, but that pitch black, inky, fluid-like darkness would always remain in the sky. Noon or not, midnight or not, the lunar sky swallowed up human sense turning it back around. There were no clouds, would never be any sun dogs or Earth parhelia. The glimmer of light creeping off the surface looked pretty in contrast to the darkness of the slowly passing night, but it was lethal. No air, no air pressure, and deep cold.
“They say that on Earth the horizon looks infinitely faraway,” Bolin said.
“It’s bigger,” Essica said. “The Moon’s surface area is only fourteen-ish million square miles. Earth’s is five hundred and --.”
Bolin shook his head violently as if trying to clear it of all the figures.
The hall door behind them opened. That was the only hallway that could open. The others led outside to lunar vacuum.
John came in followed by the Yees. They followed nervously. Maybe they expected to see their son in chains, maybe they were ashamed. They looked scared. Connie Yee, usually a smiling woman, wasn’t smiling. Not frowning either. Her face was perfectly neutral.
Essica nodded to them and pointed to one of the storeroom doors.
Bolin twiddled his thumbs nervously.
“I’ll leave you alone,” John said.
The door was locked with a thumb key and only the presidential board could open it. John opened it and gestured them inside. He left it unlocked so they could get out.
“John,” Bolin said.
They looked at each other helplessly while Essica looked out at the stars.
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