Excerpt: The Descartes Highlands by Eric Gamalinda

Mother and I always sat out in the backyard whenever the moon was full. It seemed bigger and brighter in Westchester, where there was not much else to see. Among the dark patches of the moon were the peaks of the Descartes Highlands, where the Apollo 16 mission scooped samples of rock and soil. You could see the tracks left by the moon rover with a telescope. She told me they were left there in the year I was born. Man’s tracks on the moon, she said, were like my Bethlehem star. They were going to be visible for a million years, and a million years from now they would remind people that I was once on earth. 

I’m eight years old, and the school principal pulls me out of class one afternoon and says my mother has come to pick me up and take me home. Mother told them it was an emergency. They’re all nice to me, thinking someone died. My English teacher slips a Hershey’s bar in my hands, nodding quietly as I accept her gift, tears welling in her eyes. 

Inside the car, Mother rolls the windows up, takes a deep breath, and tells me the truth: “Jordan, I am not your mother.”

That’s when she begins telling me about the real Mr. Brezsky. 

“It was September, 1972. He was a very young man. He had no money. He sold you for thirty thousand dollars. Five months later, he wired the money back. Then he died. That was his story.” 

From then on she never stops talking about him. Now that she’s opened up the subject, it seems like everything is all right, and she’s never going to keep any secrets from me again. 

From The Descartes Highlands by Eric Gamalinda, Akashic Books, akashickbooks.com. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved. 

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