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Authors: Susan Beth Pfeffer

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BOOK: The Shade of the Moon
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Now that he was sober, Jon knew what they’d done was very wrong. But it would have
been a lot worse to kill a man.

“We did the right thing,” he whispered back.

Luke looked around again. “I hate this sometimes,” he said.

“I know,” Jon said.

“What do you know, Evans?” Tyler asked, walking toward them.

Jon forced himself to grin. “I know how lucky I am,” he said.

“Damn straight,” Tyler said. “Luckiest slip around.”

 

 

Friday, May 22

 

Carrie came out of the hearing room and smiled wanly at Jon and Val. “Come, Gabe,”
she said. “Let’s go home now.”

Gabe had been playing with Jon and was unwilling to stop. “Sorry, cowboy,” Jon said,
handing him over to his nanny. “I’ll see you later.”

“No!” Gabe screamed.

A woman had come out of the hearing room and was gesturing for Jon to enter. Gabe
grabbed Jon’s leg and continued screaming.

“He never does this,” Carrie said apologetically to the woman.

Grubs do lie, Jon thought. Gabe constantly had tantrums.

Val helped pull Gabe off, and Carrie picked him up. They carried him out while Jon
followed the woman into the hearing room.

He didn’t know what to expect, but he felt better seeing Tyler’s father sitting behind
a table, with a man on one side and a woman on the other.

The woman who’d escorted Jon picked up a Bible. “Put your right hand on the Bible,”
she said. “Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth,
so help you God?”

Jon nodded. “I do.”

“Do you swear that you will never repeat or report anything that is said in this room,
so help you God?”

“I do.”

Mr. Hughes smiled at him. “Sit down, Jon,” he said, turning to the people seated next
to him. “Jon Evans is a friend of my son. Because of that, I’ll turn the questioning
over to Mr. Delman and Mrs. Haverford. Remember, Jon, you’ve sworn to tell the truth.
If you aren’t certain about the answer to any question, don’t guess. Say you don’t
know.”

“Thank you, sir,” Jon said.

“For the record, what is your name?” Mr. Delman asked.

“Jon Evans,” Jon said. “Jonathan Mark Evans.”

“And where do you live?”

“In Sexton,” Jon replied. “Twenty-seven Pierce Drive.”

“How old are you, Jon?” Mrs. Haverford asked.

“I’m seventeen.”

“What is your relationship to Mrs. Lisa Evans?” Mr. Delman asked.

“She’s my stepmother.”

“And how long have you known her?” Mr. Delman continued.

Jon thought about it. He was nine when Dad married Lisa, and he’d met her a couple
of times before then. “Nine years,” he said.

“And your father is dead?”

“Yes sir.”

“How did you come to live in Sexton?” Mr. Delman asked.

“We had passes,” Jon said.

“How did you come to have those passes?”

“A friend of ours gave them to us,” Jon said.

“Do you know how he came to have those passes?” Mr. Delman asked.

Jon hesitated. “I was told he was given the passes by someone he knew. His friend’s
father. But I don’t know that for a fact.”

Mr. Delman nodded. “So you and Mrs. Evans and Mrs. Evans’s son, Gabriel, moved into
Sexton,” he said.

“That’s right,” Jon said. “Gabe’s my half brother.”

“When did your father die?” Mrs. Haverford asked.

“Two years ago,” Jon said. “Right before we got here.”

“So for the past two years you’ve lived with Mrs. Evans and Gabriel,” Mr. Delman said.
“Does anyone else live with you?”

“No,” Jon said. “Well, our housekeeper and Gabe’s nanny.”

“And their names are?”

“Val and Carrie,” Jon replied. “I’m sorry. I don’t remember their last names.”

Mr. Hughes smiled at him. “Relax, Jon,” he said. “You’re doing fine.”

Jon smiled back at him. “Thank you, sir,” he said. “This is kind of nerve-racking.”

“How would you describe your relationship with Mrs. Evans?” Mrs. Haverford asked.

“Good,” Jon said. “Good. Very good.”

“Does she ever hit you?” Mrs. Haverford asked.

Jon laughed. “No. Absolutely not.”

“Does she ever hit or spank Gabe?”

“No ma’am,” Jon said.

“Do the domestics ever hit or spank Gabe?”

“I don’t know,” Jon said. “I’m at school and then there’s afterschool and I’m on the
Sexton soccer team. So I’m not home very much. But I’ve never seen Carrie or Val hit
Gabe. I know he loves both of them.”

“Does Mrs. Evans go out in the evenings?” Mrs. Haverford asked. “Is she romantically
involved with anyone?”

“No ma’am,” Jon said. “She took my dad’s death pretty hard. And she doesn’t have much
spare time. There’s her work, and Gabe and me.”

“Does she ever speak about her job?” Mr. Delman asked.

“Well, I know what she does,” Jon said. “But she doesn’t go into details.”

“Does Mrs. Evans go to church on Sundays?” Mrs. Haverford asked.

“Yes ma’am,” Jon said. “She takes Gabe with her. I go with them when I can, but if
I have a soccer game I go to the seven a.m. service instead.”

“Just a couple more questions,” Mr. Hughes said. “Then we’ll be through.”

“Thank you, sir,” Jon said. He hoped no one could see how much he was sweating.

“Does Mrs. Evans ever hit the domestics?” Mrs. Haverford asked.

“No ma’am,” he said.

“Does she give the domestics an adequate amount of food?” Mr. Delman asked.

“I guess so,” Jon said. “I mean, yes. Well, I don’t eat with them, so I can’t swear
they’re getting enough, but they seem healthy. I’ve never heard either of them complain.
As a matter of fact, they’ve both told me how grateful they are to work for us.”

Mrs. Haverford smiled at Jon. “Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about
Mrs. Evans?” she asked. “Before we call her in for her examination?”

“She’s great,” Jon said. “She didn’t have to give me the pass, but she said she wanted
me to live with her, that it would be wonderful for Gabe to have a big brother. And
I know she works hard at her job. I really think she should be allowed to stay in
Sexton.” He stopped. “I hope that’s okay,” he said. “Thank you.”

“Thank you, Jon,” Mr. Hughes said. “You playing in Sunday’s game?”

“Yes sir,” Jon said, getting up.

“Give ’em hell,” Mr. Hughes said. “Show them who’s boss.”

“I’ll try, sir,” Jon said. “Thank you, Mr. Delman, Mrs. Haverford.”

Their nods indicated that he could leave. Jon realized he was shaking. He wasn’t sure
what they were trying to find out about Lisa. He could only hope he answered in the
right way.

He didn’t want to think about the consequences if he hadn’t.

 

Saturday, May 23

 

“I’m sorry,” Mom said as Jon answered the phone. “I never should have talked to you
that way.”

“It’s okay,” Jon said. “You were upset about your students. I understand.”

“I’m still upset,” Mom replied. “Maybe even more so. Did you hear what happened to
the high school?”

Jon swallowed. “Yeah,” he said.

“Destroyed,” Mom said. “Someone’s idea of a joke. It makes me sick.”

“But you’re still teaching,” Jon said. “Right?”

“I’m trying,” Mom replied. “They moved us to the elementary school. The whole high
school is crammed into three rooms. They moved the chairs and desks out, and the kids
sit on the floor. It’s the only way they could fit everybody in.”

“Where’s the elementary school?” Jon asked, trying not to picture the high school
as it burned down.

“On Maple,” Mom replied. “It’s about a ten-block walk.”

“Well, that’s good,” Jon said. “At least you don’t have that long walk anymore.”

“It’s so unfair,” Mom said. “I know it’s not your fault, Jon, but the whole system
is so wrong.”

“Hey, lady, you’re not the only one who wants to talk,” Jon heard a man shout.

“I’ve got to go,” Mom said. “I’ll talk to you next week. I love you, Jon.”

“Love you, too,” Jon mumbled, and hung up.

They’d done the right thing, he told himself. Mom wasn’t there. She couldn’t understand
what it was like that night.

Besides, what difference did a couple more years of education make to a grub? Miranda
and Alex had both gone to high school, and look where they were now.

They all had work to do, grubs and clavers. Jon would finish high school and go to
Sexton University to learn whatever the board thought would be most useful to the
enclave. He wouldn’t have any more say about his future than a grub.

Maybe the system was wrong. But it was the only system they had. It was the system
that kept them, clavers and grubs both, alive.

 

Sunday, May 24

 

It was a three-hour bus trip to Worley, and the air was particularly foul.

Jon didn’t care. He played as though he were the only man on the Sexton team. He didn’t
just steal the ball from the Worley players. He stole it from his own teammates. He
made thirteen shots, and nine of them went in. Sexton won 11–2.

“Nice job, Evans,” Coach said.

“He hogged the ball,” Tyler declared. “Didn’t give the rest of us a chance.”

Coach paused. “You’re right, Tyler,” he said. “Evans, this is a team sport. Let the
grubs see who the real clavers are.”

It was a balancing act, Jon told himself. Everything was a balancing act. “I did hog
the ball,” he said. “Sorry.”

“Just remember which side you’re on, slip,” Tyler said.

“I’ll remember,” Jon said. As though he’d ever be allowed to forget.

 

Monday, May 25

 

Jon was playing horsey with Gabe when the phone rang. Val answered it.

“It’s your mother, Jon,” she said.

Jon eased Gabe off his back and walked over to the phone. Mom called only on Saturdays.
It was Miranda, he thought. Something bad must have happened to her.

“Is everything all right?” he asked before Mom had a chance to say hello.

“Everything’s fine,” she said. “Miranda went to the clinic for her checkup on Sunday,
and it turns out a friend of yours works there. Sarah Goldman. Her father’s the doctor.”

“I know,” Jon said.

“I had this idea,” Mom declared. “I’ll invite Sarah and her father—and you, of course—for
dinner. They could come over from the clinic, and you could take the bus in with Miranda
and Alex. Nothing fancy. What do you think?”

Jon thought it was a terrible idea, but he knew better than to say so. “Sarah’s father
is very busy,” he said. “He probably wants to go right home at night.”

“Well, we won’t know until we ask,” Mom said. “So why don’t you ask Sarah? Find out
what day would be best for her and her father. One day next week. You can tell me
on Saturday.”

“Can you afford it?” Jon asked. “Food’s not cheap, Mom.”

“I know what food costs,” Mom said. “Better than you. And yes, we can afford it. Jon,
ask Sarah, all right?”

“All right,” Jon said. “I’ll talk to you on Saturday.”

“Have a good week, honey,” Mom said. “I love you.”

“I love you, too,” Jon said.

He did love her, he told himself. She was his mother. She’d starved for him.

So why did he dread the idea of Sarah meeting her?

 

Tuesday, May 26

 

Jon woke up at the near sunless dawn. He hated the thought of inviting Sarah and her
father to Mom’s apartment. Not because he thought Sarah would be offended. On the
contrary. He knew Sarah well enough to know what she’d say. She’d be delighted. All
part of her everyone-is-equal attitude.

But Jon knew better. Maybe everyone was equal, or had been before, but everyone didn’t
live equally. That was the way the system worked. Clavers had more because they deserved
more. Grubs had only as much as they needed to survive, because their survival was
important. Not essential, the way claver survival was, but important enough to justify
their being fed and sheltered. Grubs could be replaced easily enough. Clavers, except
for Zachary’s granddad, were irreplaceable.

Julie should have been the slip. That had been the plan. He’d be the grub, working
in a factory most likely. Maybe even in the mines. If Sarah had met him, and there’d
be no reason why she would have, she wouldn’t have looked twice at him. For all her
talk about everyone being equal, she was a claver girl, and claver girls never looked
twice at grubs.

But it hadn’t happened that way. He lived in Sexton, on Julie’s pass. Julie, who had
died because of him.

He tried to fall back asleep, but it was impossible. Instead he got dressed and stared
out the window until he knew it was time for Val to be making his breakfast.

“I guess I should thank you,” he said, sitting down at the table. Val had already
poured him a glass of goat’s milk, and he took a sip.

“For what?” she asked as she scrambled his eggs.

“For not telling the board how I make you get up earlier,” he said. “You didn’t tell
them, did you?”

BOOK: The Shade of the Moon
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ads

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