They looked at him, these strangers, as if they had known him all his life. He wanted to laugh in their faces, to stand up and wave his shackled wrists at them. But he turned, saw his mother’s eyes, and he confessed to a crime he hadn’t thought to commit.
“The baby was remarkably well-behaved. She stayed on her back, content with the spinning animals that made infinite revolutions above her head. She waved her baby hands and laughed silently, happily ignoring the two most important people in her life and unintentionally already picking up on her parents’ bad habits.
The village was attacked in the darkest hour before dawn. It happened quickly—the shadows merged together with the night, silent and unimposing. The little girl knew not to move; she stayed, hidden, as they took her mother and brothers away. She would remember their screams all of her life.
She knows by glancing at him that it’s bad news. His image spirals, and she fights to make sense of a world that has lost all meaning in less than a few seconds. Now, she will just be another one of them. The ones who don’t survive the C-word.
They come from the shadows, splaying themselves over the night sky and extinguishing the stars. There are thousands, their eyes the black holes that have infested the world. They breathe as one, merging into a monstrous being that consumes everything and becomes nothing, and they never fail to haunt her.
She grips the balloon, letting the string dig into small fingers that strain with the effort of holding on. Her brows are knitted with unwavering concentration. A sudden wind wrenches the string from her hands, stinging pale skin. She watches the last reminder of her father drift to the heavens.
They ask him why he thinks he’s here, and he examines his surroundings with the same scrutiny they have used on him for however many days he’s been in this open cage. He smiles and fades back into the gray walls—why should he give them an answer they expect?
In this part of the world it’s hard to know where the sky ends and the ocean begins. He breathes in the salt of early morning and thinks that he could stay here forever, balanced on the edge of two horizons, seeking nothing more than comfort from the rising sun.
She’d only agreed to let him take her back here because she knew he needed it. He needed the reassurance that, in some parallel universe, where all the elements and time were on their side, their daughter would still be alive and they wouldn’t need to shed so many tears.
So I thought I’d put myself up to a new challenge: writing mini-sagas (stories that are limited to 50 words). I’ll try to do one everyday, just to get those creative juices flowing in the right direction. 😀