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When the Moon was Ours
Author:Anna-Marie McLemore

For that moment, he could have been any boy. He could have been Roman Brantley, who once had a gaze so reckless teachers couldn’t meet it. But he’d lost that look to Lian Bonner, to her hair that was so dark red it was almost auburn, to the bursts of freckles fanning her temples like wings. She still had his grandfather’s hunting jacket, which Lian swore she’d give back if he ever asked. Of course he couldn’t look her in the eye long enough to do it.

Or Wynn Yarrow, who broke up with his girlfriend of two years for Peyton. Peyton, the shortest and youngest of the Bonner sisters, with pumpkin-colored hair her mother barrel-curled every morning, and who everyone but him knew would never be interested. Wynn lost not only his girlfriend, but every friend who took her side.

Miel backed away from the edge of the pumpkin field, trying to vanish into the shadows before Sam saw her. The Bonner sisters, like everyone else in town, had seen her with Sam so many times that they noted it no more than seeing her alone. But if Miel came up to him now, he might slouch and blush in a way that traced a ribbon of cool air in the dusty heat. And when he did, Miel’s smile might glint like a coin.

The Bonner girls would see it. It would draw them.

They would watch how Sam sometimes climbed trees to set his moons where the branches met and joined, but just as often threw a thin rope over a bough and pulled the moon up. They would notice how, when he had to climb trees to put in new candles or relight ones that had gone out, he did it without hurry. How, if a moon was fragile, he carried a wooden ladder from his mother’s shed and leaned it against the trunk, so he wouldn’t jostle the moon as he climbed.

They would realize how beautiful this odd boy was, how the moons he hung in the trees at night glowed like a bowl of stars. They would see how his painted lunar seas gave off different shades of light.

No boy was ever so interesting to them as when he was interesting to someone else.

Chloe turned, her braid running the length of her spine, rubber band hitting the small of her back as she followed the brick walkway. She took the stairs to the front porch, and the soles of her feet, dust-covered, flashed a little darker than her ankles. But even the defiance in how she whipped her braid through the air couldn’t hide the way she held herself a little differently. Her stomach was flat but her hips had spread. She folded her arms, even thinner than when she’d left, like she was cold. She looked both fearless and young as any Bonner sister, but now the set to her shoulders gave her the proud but cautious look of being someone’s mother.

But maybe that was just because Miel knew. Everyone knew. The thing Chloe had tried to keep secret had become its own little life. It had grown so big it refused to go unremarked on.

No matter how tight Chloe’s jeans, people would look at her stomach and wonder if she was showing again. She may have been a porcelain figurine, repaired by the finest hands, but she had still cracked and broken. When anyone held her up to the light, the milky threads of where she’d been glued back together showed.

She’d never rule the Bonner girls again. Her reign would pass down to Ivy. Not Lian, even though Lian was the second-oldest. If anyone called Lian dim, the Bonner girls would have scratched them to bleeding with their unfiled, bright-polished nails, but that wouldn’t mean they didn’t agree.

Now that the Bonner girls were together again, they were a force as strong as the wind that ripped the leaves off maples and sycamores. They were every shade of orange and gold in an October forest. The life would come back into them, and every girl in town who loved any boy in town would take a little longer to fall asleep tonight.

If the Bonner girls knew Miel wanted to keep Sam, that she was not just a strange girl who was friends with a strange boy, they would realize how much fun it would be to take him. It was why they had never had any friends at school except one another. Whenever a girl wanted a boy, so did they. The second they sensed that Miel cared would be the second they decided he would be the next boy whose heart they broke. Not that they ever tried to break anything. They never meant to hurt anyone. They were children petting a cat too hard for no reason except that they liked the feel of its fur.

Together, they were similar enough to dazzle half the boys in this town, different enough that they’d intrigue Sam. And if he ever trusted them as much as he trusted Miel, they would ruin him. They would take everything from him without trying.

Miel’s wrist prickled. She looked down at her rose. The pink of her favorite lipstick was draining out of the petals, giving way to red, and then orange, until every petal had turned to copper or amber or rust.

Las gringas bonitas, these four girls who’d made the moon disappear, were back.

lake of hatred