Lucy stands by the window clenching a long abandoned blue plastic policeman in her hand. This blue was used in so many industrial products that vats of the dye survived and now the color dominates the landscape, even the blanket under which Sonjia now tosses with fever from her burns. Lucy hates this miserable mocking of what the sky and water once was.
For years they had been told it was coming, since the 1970’s really, but avarice had long dominated survival instincts. The twinge in the back of the neck that tells you to duck at just the right moment numbed to oblivion. Even so, when it came, it was fast and brutal. The day was clear and crisp, with just a hint of chill in the air.
“Hey, want to take the girls to the vineyard? It’s a beautiful day,” asked Zamir.
“Sounds good, we can buy the wine for the staff,” replied Lucy.
When they got there Lucy took the girls walking while Zamir went inside to purchase the cases. Mari, a newborn, was wrapped to her chest and Lucy filled her nose with her new baby scent. Sonjia skipped ahead stopping now and then to jump at clusters of low hanging grapes when the brown and yellow clouds rolled into the valley spilling rain that melted the vines with a hiss and wisp of smoke. For precious seconds Lucy’s mind couldn’t process what she was seeing, finally she started screaming.
“Sonjia, Run! RUN! Run to daddy!”
Sonjia froze not understanding her mother’s panic but Zamir hearing the screams ran from the buying room and quickly taking in the situation joined his deeper voice to her repeated chorus. This spurred Sonjia into action and she ran at him chubby knees pumping, hair flying. Lucy followed behind the best she could, supporting Mari’s head while hunching her head and shoulders over her. But the storm was preternaturally quick and the smell of her burning hair and flesh reached her long before the pain. The closer she got to the building the deeper the horror on Zamir’s face became. All Lucy could think about was Mari. Medical care saved Lucy’s life but she had been burned to the bone in many places and skin grafts only hide so much. Now she stays inside forced to let her youngest barter for what they need alone.
Lucy parts the curtains looking for Mari who should have been back already with the burn salve needed to keep Sonjia’s skin pliant. Not seeing her Lucy stifles a scream of frustration knowing she’s outside playing with her friends. Lucy should be glad that Mari has managed to scratch out a childhood but at this moment Lucy wishes Mari wasn’t quite as willful as she is. The plastic policeman bites into her clenched fist and Lucy’s eyes fill with tears, as she remembers the feeling of having someone looking out for them.