Sun and Shadows
Ms. Merchant found them a few minutes before the end of school, still huddled together in the grass. Alex had gone hoarse from saying whatever comforting thing he could think to say, trying to mimic has father’s soothing tone and demeanor. The sun had given his face and neck a generous pink to compliment the burning on the inside. He didn’t mind the sun.
Janine flinched at the teacher’s touch but calmed quickly after looking up into Ms. Merchant’s long, kind face with its perenially sad blue eyes. Without further words, the two children were led into the cool corridors of the school and to the nurse’s station. Alex couldn’t explain why they were outside, and Janine wasn’t speaking. The adults made their assumptions, as adults often do, and parents were called.
From a cot in a dimly lit room, Alex listened as a woman came to pick up Janine.
“…not her mother, no, her aunt. Her mother is…”
Something was whispered or left unsaid. Alex could only shudder and wish the nurse had left the lights on.