The Law of Moses
Author:Amy Harmon



“Someone needs to pay for this, Georgia.” It was weird hearing him say my name as if he knew me so well. He didn’t know me at all. And suddenly, I barely knew myself. Same town, same street. Same world. But it didn’t feel like the same world at all. And definitely not the same girl. I wondered for a moment if I was in shock. Nothing had really happened. I was okay. I would be okay, at least. I just needed to go home.


“I need to go home. I’m okay,” I insisted. “Please?” I was pleading now. Begging. And the tears were streaming down my cheeks again.


He looked around almost desperately, like he wanted to call for help, like he needed to get advice on how to handle the situation. I was the situation. He didn’t know how to handle me. Taking me home was the easiest solution, but he obviously didn’t think that was good enough.


“Please?” I urged. I wiped my face on the sleeve of my T-shirt, the tears and the dirt leaving wet streaks on the new top I’d bought especially for this night. I always got new outfits for the stampede. New Wranglers, new shirts, sometimes even new boots. New duds for the big event.


I could see the Ferris wheel turning in the distance, visible above the row of dark outbuildings that separated the animals and the arena from the fairgrounds beyond. A soft breeze lifted the hair from my damp cheeks and brought with it the carnival cologne of cotton candy and popcorn before it merged with the smell of vomit and manure and lost its sweetness.


I teetered slightly and felt the horror of the last few minutes start to sink in. Sinking, sinking, sinking. I needed to go home.


Moses must have felt me slowly plummeting into the abyss, because without another word, he reached out his hand and loosely took my arm, offering support. I loved him at that moment, more than I thought I could. Way more than our brief encounters warranted. The troublemaker, the delinquent, the crack baby. He was now my hero.


He walked beside me slowly, letting me lean on him. And when we reached his Jeep, I stood, staring blankly at it, a Jeep I’d seen day in and day out since he moved to Levan six weeks before. I had been jealous of his cool wheels when I only had an old farm truck to drive, a truck that didn’t go above forty miles per hour. I’d been jealous before, but now I was so grateful for it I wanted to fall to my knees and give thanks. Moses gently urged me up into the passenger seat and buckled me in. The buckles were more like harnesses and I welcomed the relative safety, even as I worried about the fact that the jeep had no roof and no doors.


“Moses, Jeeps, seatbelts, home, Moses,” I listed, not even aware I was speaking out loud, and not caring that I’d repeated Moses twice. He’d earned two spots tonight.


“What?” Moses leaned in and lifted my chin, his eyes worried.


“Nothing. Habit. When I’m . . . stressed, I list the things I’m grateful for.”


He didn’t say anything, but he kept looking at me as he climbed in and started the Jeep. I felt him watching me as he maneuvered his way across the gravel, around the corrals and horse trailers, through the parking lot and out onto the road.


The wind roared into our faces, tangled in my hair, and pushed against my body as we sped down the highway, leaving the fairgrounds, the glittering Ferris wheel, and the happy sounds that had given me such a false sense of security behind us. Those sounds had lulled me and lured me in all my life. Now I wondered how I would ever go back.











I HAD GONE TO THE RODEO for Georgia. Not because I had some premonition that she needed me, or even some hope that she wanted me to be there. Definitely not because I expected to find her tied up, covered in mud, crying because someone had tried to hurt her or scare her. Or take her. She said it was probably a prank. I wondered what kind of friends pulled pranks like that. I wouldn’t know. I didn’t have any friends.


My grandma had presented me with an extra, general admission ticket that afternoon and informed me that Georgia was “competing in the barrel races and you don’t want to miss it.” I had the sudden image of Georgia atop a barrel, balancing as she made it roll, her feet flying, trying desperately not to fall off as she tried to cross the finish line ahead of all the other barrel racers.