I drifted through liquid clear light, slowly rising. I opened my eyes and floated to the surface of sunlight pooled on my thin coverlet. A warm breeze fluttered white curtains.
Helen sat in the old nursery rocker, a pile of mending on her lap, but her hands lying for once idle. Her face was turned to the window, gaze far away, the morning light mercilessly drawing lines of worry and exhaustion. She stared blankly. I’d never seen a look like that on her face.
I managed to croak, “Mother.” There was a foul taste in my mouth.
She turned to me. I must have dreamed that empty despair in her eyes. They were warm now, full of morning light. “Ruth! That’s more like it. We were worried, until the fever broke. But the infection’s draining from your leg now.” She rose and placed a cool hand on my forehead.
“Late?” I squinted at the window. There was something I should remember, but everything was tinged in a pink haze.
“My dear, you’ve been sleeping for nearly two days. What happened, Ruth? Why did you walk so far from the railcar? We haven’t gotten any reply from Marda’s console. Was there some sort of accident?”
I blinked. “Can’t remember.” I blinked again, but she kept sliding away into that pink sea. “Wind. Amber eyes . . . Sheba!”
“Hush, dear. Drink some more, it will help. Here.” She held the glass to my lips, and the tang of the pale pink liquid dissolved the scratchy dust in my throat.
“Ahhh.” I closed my eyes. “Love you, Mother. Really do.” Tears rolled out from under my eyelids.
“Sleep, now.” Soft lips brushing my forehead. The rocker swished gently. “I know, sweetheart. I love you, too.” She sang a quiet lullaby as the pink waves drifted over me.
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