by Kaye Jeffreys -
Jereth crept around the corner, resting his little hand on the wall. Mommy sat on her bed in the dark with her face in her hands. Her shoulders shook. Jereth had never seen her cry before. She often stared off into space. But the child had never seen silent sobs make her whole body shudder.
He could take it no longer. "Mommy, don't cry."
She turned. "Jereth, what are you doing here?"
"Sergie brought me home early." He looked to the floor, ashamed.
"Come here." She reached with both arms. Jereth ran to her. She lifted him up and set him on her lap. Mommy always smelled sweet like the desserts Sergie made.
"Why are you crying?"
She smiled at him. A tear pressed from her eye and she wiped it away. "Sometimes I get sad."
"Why, Mommy?" He brushed a strand of her hair away from her eyes, like she did to him when he cried.
After looking at him with eyes that said, 'I love you so much,' she said with her mouth, "Jereth, I will tell you if you promise never to tell your father. He would be angry if he knew I told you."
Fear pulled on Jereth's stomach. He knew his father's anger and whispered, "I won't tell."
Now Mommy stroked his hair. "I miss my home."
"We are home."
"This is my home now, here with you. I lived somewhere else before."
"Where?" Jereth snuggled into her shoulder.
"I'm from the High Country of Eclectia."
He twisted a bead on her long necklace between his finger and thumb. "What is Ecle...tia?"
"You will learn about it in school. But if something happens to me, I want you to know about our family in the High Country."
"What is going to happen to you?" Jereth sat up. Fear tugged again.
"Nothing," Mommy's smile soothed him. "I just want you to know about our family so that if you ever want to leave this place, you can go find them."
"They are my family too?"
"Of course they are."
"How will I find them?" Jereth yawned, rested against her shoulder and twirled the bead some more.
Mommy rubbed his back. "Look for them among the Miners of the Five Rims. Can you say that? Miners of the Five Rims?"
Jereth shook his head and pressed his face into her blouse, ready for his nap.
Mommy whispered in his ear, "Then, just remember."