Two girls came skipping out of the forest. Barely, they stopped before landing in a concrete pond full of lily pads.
"Do you see what I see?" Georgina asked Alyssa, while rubbing her eyes.
"Isn't it beautiful?" Alyssa said. Her eyes glazed over.
"What? Why would you think a bed in a pond is beautiful?"
"The frilly teal shimmering curtains hanging from the canopy. The gold tassels all along the top." Alyssa sighed.
"Yuck, look at the muddy mess where the pond water has been absorbed up the curtains. The mattress is just inches above the water. There's got to be bugs, spiders and other nasty things in that bed." Georgina vibrated with horror.
Alyssa shook her head, "Put a few lit floating candles in the water. After dark, they would look like fireflies."
"Don't even get me started on the mosquitoes!" Georgina continued on.
"Who would do something like this?" Alyssa asked.
"Someone crazy, of course. To ruin a perfectly good bed that way, what a waste!" Georgina said.
"No, not a crazy person. Someone romantic, artistic. It's not a waste! It's beautiful!" Alyssa stared at the bed.
"I can't see what you see." Georgina said rubbing her eyes, focusing and un-focusing them. "Nope, just can't see it."
Alyssa turned and stared at her friends, shaking her head, "Agree to disagree?" She held out her hand to Georgina, "But we can still be friends, right?"
Georgina looked back at the bed, shook her head. She reached for Alyssa's hand. "Friends!"
The girls turned back and skipped down the path. Alyssa looked back over shoulder at the unusual sight.
"Wake up, Alban! You're having a nightmare." Mom shook me hard.
I wiped wetness from my eyes. "What?" I asked, "What's going on, Mom?"
"You were screaming in your sleep. That wetness was your tears. What happened to you today?" Mom's hand shook as she stroked my damp hair away from my face. She sat on the edge of the sofa beside me. "Do you know where your brother is? Your father is out looking for him."
The last time I saw Darvades, my older brother, he was holding a molotov cocktail cocked and ready to release. Our sister, Ola, pulled me down the nearest alley. I hadn't seen him since. What should I tell mom? I searched the room for any distractions I could find.
Mom took my chin in her hand and pulled my face close to hers. "Tell me. Tell me, now. You were screaming his name. There is no out."
On her breath, I smelled the garlic bread from supper last night. I sighed and I began, "Ola and I were taking Darvades his lunch."
Darvades worked at the local refinery, where the riots started. The rioters chased the enforcers down the street to the business district or so the local gossip reported.
Mom's head shook from side to side, trying to deny what I was saying. "You two told me that you missed all that nonsense. Those riots are stupid!"
Ola stood framed in the door of her room, only she and our parents had bedrooms. It took all the money we had to afford this ratty two bedroom ground floor apartment. Tears streamed down her face. She rushed over putting her arms around mom and me kneeling on the rag rug on the floor beside the sofa on which I slept .
"You're only thirteen, Alban." Mom turned to Ola, "You're only fourteen."
"I'll be fifteen in a few weeks, Ma." Ola said, "We got out okay. And the riots are not stupid. Darvades is fighting for better pay and safer working conditions. You know three boys were maimed last month alone."
"But Darvades still isn't home safe. Where can he be? I am scared." Mom's body shook. Tears rolled down her checks falling on to my blankets.
The front door swung open. Dad half carried Darvades who was covered in soot and blisters. But very much alive!