He fills with words that will only reach the earth, he’s been warned, should they carry their weight in truth. The sweat of his pudgy finger crimps the creases he’s so carefully bent, and he pulls himself in tight, hurdling his most sincere spirit into what he must believe, is an accepting unknown…
It can be hard to remember how something began. Details fuzzy and timing, non-specific, but Elian and Luna are not spared in this way. The moment that first child disappeared is forever cut into their hearts. After all, watching someone fade is not easily forgotten. Laughing one minute and evaporating like a recalled raindrop the next, hangs heavy in the atmosphere.
At one time, this small town had been a home. Long before despair scraped its way to the core with the precision of a surgeon’s scalpel, they’d slept on cozy beds inside colorful houses and shrilled as they’d swung high enough for their toes to touch the moon. They’d trailed fingertips in the park fountain and sacrificed their pennies for precious wishes.
But children continued to vanish. Panic rose. Terrified mothers fictionalized mass killings and undiscovered bodies. Fathers waited with shotguns at the ready for evil that would never show its face. Paranoia and mourning became their way of life.
Time passed and slowly, the township reached a decision to understand it rather than to fight. And as they deliberated ideas, they became shamefully aware that the departed were solely the ones conceived without love. The conceptions cultivated from seeds of greed, selfishness or pride, some spawned out of lust or envy. They determined that not one of the lost had blossomed from a pure moment of tenderness.
True to human nature, they were eager to replace what was gone, to fix what was broken. They attempted to conceive through despair, but their still loveless efforts refused to bear the fruits they once had and a relentless darkness swathed their barren souls.
Now, unearthly quiet fills the creeks and crevices as Elian and Luna make their way to the fountain. Swings sway loosely in the intermittent wind, their rusty chains straining against a tongue-tied backdrop. The two make their way through the littered streets, Luna’s fingers curving around Elian’s palm, long and loose like the limbs of a weeping willow.
The park is so much smaller than when they were young. The surrounding fence halts at their shins and they now loom over the jungle gym they couldn’t quite conquer at three feet tall. Roots from the massive Oaks have thrust up through the dusty earth and turned the timeworn slide upside down. A carousel is cocked on its side, a discarded toy on a vacant nursery floor.
But, today is unlike any other time they’ve ambled this path. The waterless fountain urges them on, the air surrounding it fused with static and a vibrating hum that pulls them to it much like the tow ropes used to haul them up to the highest mountaintops. With no words, they each hear what the other is thinking. With one glance, they feel what the other is feeling. With one touch, they each want what the other is wanting.
They are one.
Elian turns and presses his lips to Luna’s forehead. They stand this way for some time, paused in the moment between what was, what is and what could be. Most had given up, some had moved on, others, simply bided their time, withering to ash between their sheets, but Luna and Elian only got stronger, looked after one another, grew together.
Built a life.
They stand at the fountain’s edge with Luna’s coattails flapping in the wind and Elian’s dark curls shifting freely over his brow. He takes her hand in his once more and they wait together while the sky begins to change. Shapes and patterns kaleidoscope into brilliant hues of azure and indigo, folding into amethysts and tangerines. They believe it to be the most beautiful thing they’ve ever seen.
And it is.
Until a small white tip—the nose of a well-intentioned craft—breaks though a slit in the colorful clouds and glides gracefully, softly, silently into their hearts.
This is the most beautiful thing they’ve ever seen. Luna feels the stir. Elian reaches to touch the swell of colors that have drifted down from the sky to stretch across her belly.
“Welcome, little one. This is love.”