by Greg Mitchell -
“Daddy? Tell me about the angels.”
Dressler pulled the covers to Edilyn’s neck, red light from the small bunker window painting her face in harsh contrast. The sound of dirt and grit scraped against the pane glass, a constant white noise that Dressler had all-but tuned out.
“Come on, Lyn,” he sighed. “Not tonight. You really need your rest.”
Through bleary eyes, she beseeched him. “I feel fine, Dad.”
A sharp pang pierced his spirit.
Three years old and she’s braver about this than I am.
“I don’t really want to,” Dressler grinned, his nose and eyes burning with tears that he kept barred.
“Please, Daddy,” the little girl begged, reminding him of all the little things in life she’d begged for. New toys, a special treat. A million trivial things he’d taken for granted. Things that would be left behind when she was gone.
Dressler cursed in his heart. Better do it. Better savor these moments. You won’t have much opportunity before long.
“Okay,” he relented, and the girl’s feet squirmed under the covers, her face brighter than 94 Ceti. “The angels are beautiful creatures that live in the ocean depths.”
“How did they get there?” she immediately asked her usual question.
“I don’t know. Maybe they’ve always been there. Maybe they came from somewhere else.”
“A boy in my class said they have magic,” she nodded eagerly. “Is that true, Daddy?”
“That’s what I hear, but I’ve never seen one for myself,” he chuckled. “I guess that’s why we have stories. Sometimes believing in a thing is more important than the thing itself. Does that make sense?”
She shook her head no.
“Yeah,” he huffed. “Doesn’t make a lot of sense to me most of the time, either.”
Pausing, Edilyn furrowed her brow, the soft shush-shushing of the windswept sands comforting, even in Eclectia’s tumultuous storms. “Daddy . . . Could the angels make me not sick?”
Dressler’s chest tightened, his breathing short. He bit on his lip, forcing his emotions back. He’d cry later, after Edilyn was asleep. He’d cry ‘til morning. “I don’t know, Lyn,” he whispered in a raw croak. “But I’d like to believe.”