This is a sort-of aliyah related piece. No real spoilers, though, and it doesn't have to be aliyah if you don't like. I don't own a thing, but I hope you enjoy it anyway…
The little girl had been wearing blue when she asked. The question had been as innocuous as the popsicle stain on entrancingly sky blue fabric.
The cop in him had wanted to ask where her mother was. Had wanted to tell her to go home, to stay away from strangers before she got herself killed. Didn't she know there was enough death in this world already? Enough pain?
But she didn't know, and so he simply regarded her impassively in the fading sunlight of the park.
"Well?" she had asked, tapping her foot with all the impatience she could muster up in her four-year old body. "What happened to them?"
A sigh. Hands caressing the too new rubber. He had no time for little girls who asked questions with answers that were too big, too gruesome, for their narrow worlds.
Except he did have time. He had nothing but time. Time and memories which were too big for even his grown-up world.
Briefly, he considered telling her the truth. He had enough on his conscience, anyway, without lying to children. So he considered describing to her, if she could understand, the sensation of flying. Of splintering glass and animal eyes which had darted, never connecting, from one unseen danger to the next. Of the not-pain which should be pain, and the ever-soldier outlined against a hospital window as he resigned himself to the loss of another family.
He could do it, he knew. Could unload his grief and confusion onto the unsuspecting shoulders of the braid-haired child whose too busy mother would likely be mortified by her tactless questioning. Who would hurry the child indoors with the stern words of those too secure in their lives, too afraid to face all of the things that might go wrong. Don't stare. Don't ask, she would whisper, dragging the girl away to safety and warmth beyond the reach of nightmares and consequence. Likely, she would cast one terrified look back, and then be gone. And nothing would be explained, nothing understood.
But he had seen innocence destroyed in Abby's eyes as she struggled with an enemy she could not bring herself to hate. Had heard it in McGee's stuttered apologies as he fought to find words in his writer's repetoire that might make them okay again. Had known it in the spaces between the old doctor's rambling tales and muddled explanations…and he had known it, to his very core, in the words no longer at her disposal.
She was only trying to help, he would tell the child. Only trying to save him from the monsters he could not see, but understood. Which she could only battle and never understand. Because everyone breaks, everyone cracks. And so she had sworn that she'd never be taken alive.
And he hated himself for wishing she had kept her word…
He could tell her those things, could punish her sincerity and her wide-eyed wonder. He could tell her what the end result of loyalty was. Could show her the way fairy tales really ended, with love unrequited and unrewarded. The princess lost in some far-off tower even as she stood, unchained. Damned forever to a breathing death, to a nightmare sleep. The prince, who had once flown, imprisoned forever in his throne while the king looked helplessly on, cursed to build boats which could carry no one to safer shores. And all of them jesters: laughed at, but without laughter.
He had flown that night, caught off-guard by the force in her tiny shattered body as she shoved him to "safety". Mesmerized by eyes that had darkened from their usual whiskey hue. Amber, when the sun hit them just right. Smiling and teasing and shielding eyes…now black…and now darting…and now empty…
Glassy, as glassy and empty as the window before it, too, had been broken...and he had shattered too…
Suddenly, then, his eyes were drawn to the stain again. Purple on blue. Remnants of a sun-soaked afternoon spent successfully wrangling ice cream trucks.
And he couldn't. He couldn't tell her that flying was just falling until the earth caught you up again, too greedy to leave even one moment of weightlessness unpunished. It was wrong, in the invincible summer light, to reveal how fragile they were. The superheroes who had lost their powers, lost themselves without even an epic battle. Who had been their own villains.
Running aching fingers again over the wheels that now carried him without any of the grace his legs once had, he offered up the only benediction left to a now-capeless hero…He lied.
"I flew," came his whisper, "through the clouds and into the stars."
The child's wide-eyed acceptance would have broken him, had their been anything left to break.
"Does it hurt?", the awed question directed at lifeless legs.
He left her with the doctor's answer as he propelled himself into the gathering dark. He couldn't feel a thing. But the truth was, it hurt every single day.
So, there it is. Please review and tell me what you thought. Was it too confusing? Did the point get across? Thanks, dalai.