Part III

Moon presses a rosy cheek against the cool glass. The outside world is still. No cars whiz around the sky roads. No people wander along the web of pedestrian bridges. The sun is going down and the chaos will soon return as night wakes. When the virus began to spread, raids and riots lit the streets in a fantastic frenzy. Moon loves to watch the stunning pandemonium from within the choked two-bedroom apartment. It distracts her from her grumbling belly and the silence of her sister and parents sleeping like stones in their respective beds.

She sits up, turns away from the window and reaches for her little backpack. She meanders around the room, stuffing strange objects into the raggedy bag: a jar of glitter, a string of walnuts tied into a necklace, a handful of broken crayons, some coins from a ceramic piggy bank she lets shatter on the kitchen tile floor. She palms her stuffed animals, acknowledging that the family of worn plush friends – a frog, a giraffe, a horse, an elephant – would need to be left behind. She arranges them neatly on her bed so that they all lean-in and prop each other up. She gives each one a kiss on the head, says goodbye, and walks out of the apartment.

It’s dusk. The streets are quiet. Shop owners jingle keys as they lock doors and board-up floor-to-ceiling glass windows with large wooden panels. The sidewalks are littered with trash and jobless, homeless bodies slumped in the gutters.

Moon moves through the hollow city, unnoticed. She stops to peer through the window of a toy shop. She fumbles for coins in the bottom of her bag. There’s only enough for a rice patty at the night market by the pier. Her belly grumbles.

Shadows grow longer and people begin to wander onto the streets. Dark doorways melt into the sidewalks and roads. The delineation of where one is meant to walk is met with the discrimination against what ought to be. Bodies meander everywhere and meet each other to exchange willful banter and sermons of can, should, would, ought to be. Chaos stirs as Moon quickens her pace toward the pier. Campaigners enumerate. By the time she sets eyes on the ocean, the day is dark and she’s forcing her way between the seemingly aimless legs of wandering souls. “Where are they all going?” she wonders. The growing rumble of shouts and hollers hastens her scramble. When she makes a final alley turn onto the market, she stops in her tracks. The raid has already begun. Stalls collapse under the thrust of chairs, benches and bodies. Rebels stand face-to-face with fat sobbing women, stuffing dumplings, rolls of meat, sushi and pancakes into their gullets. Mouths and brains are filled with skewers and sushi and fruit to numb the pain. What cannot be controlled is met with an accost, a confrontation of all relinquishment and release – with so much purpose it forgets.

Moon finds herself at the edge of the pier between black water and dark fate. She cannot stand still, tossed and tumbled by the limbs of violent cathartics. Something, someone or some oddity meets her skull with a brute force, enough to knock her cold.

Moon wakes to the sound of a crate hitting the ground next to her. The market is calm and quiet. Not a single voice is spoken. The only sounds are a staccato chorus of trinkets harmonizing to the shuffle and ruffle of chiffon and silk. Moon rubs her eyes. The apparent chaos of moments prior has vanished. The local, grimy food market she knows has been replaced by an elegant array of exotic fabrics and jewels, manned and maneuvered by masked strangers who appear to float footless. Forgone dream, it must be. Moon gasps and all the masks turn to look. Slowly, they lurch forward and reach to clasp her limbs. She stumbles back in shock, no longer a voyeur of this strange fantasy. Expecting to fall directly off the edge of the pier. Moon is surprised when her foot meets cement. The pier has shifted. It extends like a bridge out into the dark water and starry abyss. Moon turns on her heels and sprints into the night.

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