by Saki Wright

"You aren't going back to cheering crows," she'd told me. I knew that, but I said I was going anyway. I think she maybe understood because she'd gotten all teary-eyed and brought the kids to me. Prim was just a baby then- Billy couldn't have been more than seven.

She put Prim in my arms and gently placed her hands on Billy's shoulders. "Daddy's going away for awhile," Her voice told me she was trying not to cry. I started to reach for her.

"Raquel...." I began. She shook her head and urged Billy towards me.

"Don't you be apologizing to me, Jesiah Black. apologize to your children," I looked down at Primera who smiled a toothless grin and sneezed. I planted a light kiss on my youngest's forehead. Billy gave me his same, solemn gaze and craned his neck around to look at his mother for a minute.

Still holding Prim in my arms, I squatted down to eye-level with him. "Now Billy, when I'm gone you're man of the house. You better take care of your mom and sister, ya hear?"

"Sure dad."

I stood again and handed the baby back to Raquel. We all stood for a minute, watching each other, memorizing our faces in their eyes. Finally, with a loving pat on the head to Billy, I turned.

"I'll be back, don't look so sad!"

No more than ten steps out the door and out ran Raquel into the yard. A breeze caught the corner of her dress and waved the fabric around her ankles. Dark strands of her long hair blew loose and cascaded across the face I loved. She looked so beautiful standing there against the plain house with the peeling paint, that I could have almost forgotten what I had started out to do and just held her forever.


I turned to her. She closed her eyes for a beat, then opened them in all their startling blue clarity. The color rivaled even Solaris' most vibrant sky.

"I love you,"

I nodded in silent agreement. Words weren't my best asset- never have been. Somewhere along that dusty road that led from our house, that wound itself across fields and eventually out to the shoreline, I could almost hear myself responding.

"I love you, too,"

I'd like to think she heard me.


Authors Note: Well, this was a shortie. Can you believe I wrote almost the entire thing during a lecture in Biology? Hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing it!