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I slip away in the darkness, feet and hands guided by memory and instinct rather than affirmative sight. There's a soft rattle as my sneaker bounces against the siding. I freeze, my every nerve on high alert, waiting, anticipating. I stay immobile, muscles tense and strained. A minute passes. Two. Three. I move again, gingerly, easing the rest of my body out of the window.

My feet press into the welcoming earth soundlessly, and I ease my weight onto them. My window stays open, yawning at me like sleep itself, a sleepy mouth gaping and waiting to take me back without comment should I choose to go. I don't.

Before fate can change its mind and throw me back into reality, I turn and begin to run.

Moonlight is a sharp, clear sort of light, my best friend on one of these nights. I can see where I put my feet, thanks to the moon. She's not so brilliant as the sun, but she does what she can, when he can. I can find what I need whith her help.

I'm a fast runner, even faster at night, when my moon is above me. We live on the outskirts of town, and it's only three-fourths of a mile from my hous til the pavement ends and the Old Road begins. After I red the gravel, it's another half-mile through fields and over fences until I'm so deep into the backwoods that if I wanted too, I could hide for weeks.

And there, on the tallest field hill in all directions, that I can rest.

I fall onto the soft, damp grass, gazing up at the beautiful moon that I appreciate so much, thanking the time to thank her for her assistance. She's so near her full breadth that I can almost taste it, can hear it in the wind. Full-moon nights are when the secrets of the forest become clear and unveiled for anyone to find. Full-moon nights are too dangerous for me, so I come the night before, when anticipation is high and the song of the coyote has neared so close to its greatest pitch that it brings tears to my eyes.

My hill is steep and treeless, and as my legs slowly stop burning from the climb, I'm joined by the one I've come to see. His footsteps are nearly as quiet as mine were, but he lets me know of his approach.

I stand. Of course I stand to meet him, my beloved brother-kin. His big, steady pulse meets the palm of my hand when I place it on his chest, thrumming determinedly on.

I don't have a name for him. If I call him anything, I call him Brother, though that's not quite the right word.

His body radiates heat, warming me through and through as I wrap my arms around his graceful neck. He bends his neck around my back, returning the affection. My Brother is not a normal horse, and no one could ever mistake him for one. Thankfully, I am the only one who has ever seen him.

My Brother is strange and ethereal, a tall, pale wraith who flits through the night to come to my side every night before the full moon. His can only be a son of my lovely moon, sent to comfort me, and maybe, just recently, to lure me into the dark-bright forest of the unreal.

My lady moon shines above me, and my beautiful Brother slips away from me and begins to leave, glancing at me over his shoulders.

This is an occurence of the last few months. He comes, but no longer tarries, instead inviting me to leave with him as soon as he's arrived. Tonight, like every other night, I decline and stay on my hill as my Brother melts back into the forest.

As I turn back to start the long run home, there comes a call from the forest stretched out behind me. A long, lonely call, and I recognize coyote's voice.

I wonder, for a moment, if coyote's song is the one I'll follow tomorrow night, when I return to join the etherworld.





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