(1 of 1. Originally posted on January 12, 2024 for the prompt “Fresh Winds.”)
The day the strangers came, blown in on fresh winds, my daughter could hardly contain her excitement. Laura always loved people. Even people she’d never met. It’s like she didn’t remember the last time. My beautiful, trusting little girl, remembering the warmth and forgetting that fire can destroy.
Hours later, I felt her sadness roll over me like an avalanche.
“They won’t even look at me.”
No tears fell, but I could hear them in her voice. I charged at the strangers, not knowing what I would do, only knowing that they made my Laura cry. But she held me back.
“It’s not their fault, papa. Their words are so different. They talk like their mouths are full of rocks. I can’t even guess what they’re saying. I imagine I must sound just as strange to them. They may not even realize I’m trying to talk to them.”
I watched the strangers from across the stream. A man and a woman, cutting trees, clearing ground. Their oldest child, bathing the youngest in the running water. The middle child playing in the rushes, catching frogs. He looked about Laura’s age.
I don’t want you here.
The frog-catcher looked up as if he’d heard my thought. His skin as dark as ours was pale. Eyes stretched wide like a rabbit searching the sky for hawks.
“Please, let them stay.”
Anger simmered in my gut. Resentment. Laura didn’t understand hurt. She didn’t know the risk. I had to act first, to protect her.
“They aren’t like the others.”
The stillness in her voice sucked the anger out of me. She did know. She remembered. Yet she wanted to try again. For her sake, I would make the effort, one more time.
The frog-catcher went back to his hunting, but I could see by the tension in his posture that he was aware of us.
“I think we could be friends. We just have to learn how to talk to each other.” The hope in her eyes killed me, and brought me to life again. “Please. It’s been so long.”
I can’t say I worked very hard to talk to them. But my girl needed people, like flowers need sunlight. Happiness demands risk. For her sake, I held back my anger. I let them live here beside us in peace.
Even when they built their house on top of my grave.