“Why isn’t the sky blue anymore?”
The man sat under a bridge with his niece huddled beside him. The black rain seeped through the cracks above and left little pools of ash on the pale skin of the girl’s arms. He moved her over in the hopes of finding a dry spot. The child reminded him of a doll that had been left out in the rain and ruined. Her hair had gotten so tangled and matted that he had had to cut it into short uneven clumps. She deserved something better than this.
“Why isn’t the sky blue anymore?” she asked again.
Lena, dear, I don’t know.”
“Yes, you do.”
“The sky is a giant mirror that reflected the blue oceans. But someone threw a rock at the sky and it shattered. So now we just see what was behind the sky.”
“Can they fix it?”
“I’m hungry,” she said.
The brush nearby crackled and in an instant he was there. Far too soon. The child pressed herself closer to him.
Lena, I want you to go with this man.”
Her little green eyes went wide with fright. “I want to stay with you.”
He took a deep breath to hold back tears. “I am no good at taking care of you. He is going to take you to a better place. He is going to take you to a place where the sky is still blue.”
“Will Mommy and Daddy meet me there?”
Each time she asked of them, he felt like his heart would burst. But this would be the last time he would have to say it.
“You won’t see Mommy and Daddy for a long time. They will meet you in heaven.”