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TeensThe Planet Next to the Moon
By Amy Michelle Wiley

That weekend is etched in my mind like a well-known DVD. I can just hit a button and see it played out before me in true color. But it is better than a DVD, because the emotions are still there, embedded in my heart.

It was one month after Motherís last chemotherapy treatment. All three of my little sisters were screaming in one huge tantrum.

"OK, thatís it." Motherís hands were on her hips. "Pack your bags. We are going to Lunares."

We stared at her, all four of us. "Whereís that?"

She looked me straight in the eye. "Lunares is the planet next to the moon."

The girls looked up, as if they could see the moon right through the ceiling.

"I donít remember that planet." The oldest one was suspicious.

But Mother was already packing. We drove far into the night. All the way I stole little glances at her. The girls didnít bicker even once.

When we stopped it was pitch black, not a light to be seen.

"Get your bags!" Mother handed a flashlight to my littlest sister and pointed at me. "Bring the tent."

We crowded into that tent with my sisters giggling and whispering and Mother rummaging around in her bag. You should have seen the girlsí eyes get big as she started pulling out instruments and gizmos.

The first thing she pulled out was a dial, like from an old radio. Then she had all these wires and tubes that she directed us to connect to this or that corner of the tent. When everything seemed as twisted as it could get, Mother started fiddling with the dial.

"Are we really going to Lunares?" The middle of the girls looked hard at the dial.

"Of course. Now sit back."

I jumped and half expected Something To Happen.

Nothing did.

"Now we wait." Mother smiled.

I guess I fell asleep. The next thing I remember is a great jolt and all five of us tumbling out of the tent.

We were in the middle of a field surrounded by trees and rolling hills. The blue sky was big and clear, and no sign of civilization could be seen, not even the car. It was then, sitting in the tall grass and surrounded by my wide-eyed sisters and confident Mother, that a piece of me almost started to believe.

"Look!" my littlest sister cried, and promptly disappeared from view. We ran after her and found a grassy knoll. Just like that, all five of us were sliding down the hill right on our bottoms.

Mother threw back her head and laughed, really laughed. Her hat fell off and she didnít bother with it again. Somehow her bald head fit into this beautiful, alien world just perfectly.

That weekend was one of laughter and play, love and togetherness. We slid down the hill again and again. We hiked over the next hill, singing at the top of our lungs, and fished in the lake on the other side. There was no pain or worry in this Lunares world.

In the evening, the moon was bright and the stars were numerous. It was easy to believe in The Planet Next To The Moon. It was easy, too, to talk about heaven out there, when we felt so close to it. Praying didnít feel like praying at all, but just like talking to a friend.

We called Dad on the cell phone. "Do you see that bright star?" he asked my youngest sister. "See it winking at you? Imagine thatís me, winking good night."

We got the giggles then, and right out there in the tall grass we giggled ourselves to sleep.

The next night the tent was again twisted with wires and we climbed out of it before sunrise. It was odd how the car I had spent so many hours in seemed more unreal than a weekend on Lunares.

Life returned to normal. But it was a new normal after that. There was less bickering, and each night all six of us would go outside and watch the moon rise over the tips of the trees.

Within seven months Mother was gone. All that is left now are the pictures. But somehow, when I look at them, with her bald head shining, I donít see a woman eaten by cancer. I see Mother--a beaming Lunares woman with a piece of grass sticking out of her ear.
AMY WILEY is a homeschool graduate and lives in the Pacific Northwest, finding no end of inspiration in that beautiful countryside. Although Amy admits that she has been "playing around" with writing all her life, this year she has seriously dedicated herself to it. As a result, Amy has had a number of short stories published and is currently working on several longer projects. Amy believes that fiction is a powerful way to reach people with the truth and love of God, and achieving this through her writing is her greatest motivation. Amy also has a heart for the Deaf and is working towards gaining a sign language interpreterís license.
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