"We got company, honey!" Tex shouted as he opened the door of the large, comfortable-looking ranch house.
Instantly, a plump, matronly middle-aged woman appeared. Her short, graying hair framed a full, kind-looking face.
"This here's Erica and George," Tex continued. "I found them running from the Commies. Erica and George, this here's my wife, Willa Jean."
"How do you do," Willa Jean said pleasantly, shaking their hands. "I just finished fixin' supper. Why don't y'all come on in and make yourselves comfortable."
"Thank you very much," said Erica. "You're very kind."
Willa Jean stared at Yuri. "You must be the quiet type. You ain't said a thing."
"My brother's a deaf mute," Erica explained.
"That so?" Willa Jean began serving the food. "Well, I'm sorry to hear that. What happened to y'all's parents?"
"The Commies got them," Erica said.
"Oh, you poor things." Willa Jean pointed to a photo on a nearby desk. "That there's our son, Bud. The Commies got him, too. He was just nineteen years old."
"I'm terribly sorry," Erica mumbled, feeling awkward. She looked at Yuri and saw that he looked stricken.
"Blasted Commies," Tex muttered, furiously spearing a piece of meat with his fork. "The whole lot of 'em ought to be rounded up and shot."
"It's a sign of the times, dear," Willa Jean said. "The good Lord's rainin' judgement down on America for her sinnin' ways. You remember what the preacher said."
Later, Willa Jean showed Erica and Yuri to the guest bedroom. "I'm sorry there's only one bed," she apologized. "I'll go get one of the sleeping bags we use when we go campin'." She left and returned shortly afterwards with the sleeping bag. "Here you go," she said. "Y'all have a good night."
"Thank you," said Erica. "You can have the bed, since you're hurt," she said to Yuri, after Willa Jean had left.
"No, you take bed," he said. "I sleep on floor."
Erica quickly fell into a restless sleep that was disturbed by nightmares. At one point she found herself running, from what she wasn't quite sure, but her lungs were about to burst and her legs about to collapse but she knew she didn't dare stop to rest, not even for a minute. She felt someone grab her leg and sat up in bed screaming...
Her eyes shot open, and for just a second she couldn't remember where she was. Then she was aware of someone's arms around her, holding her close. Yuri.
"Are you all right?" he whispered.
"Y-yes," she stammered. "I just had a really scary dream, that's all." She rested her head on Yuri's shoulder, beginning to feel warm and drowsy as he cuddled her.
"At home I have little sister," Yuri said. "Her name is Sonya. When she was very small she used to have bad dreams. She used to get in my bed and say, 'Yuri, I am scared.' I hold her and tell her it will be all right until she fall asleep again."
"Toni used to do the same thing," said Erica. Sorrow pierced her heart at the memory.
"I should not be here," Yuri continued. "My people killed their son. Killed your sister too. I eat their food, sleep in their house. They do not know what I am. If they did they would hate me. You should hate me too."
"I don't hate you, Yuri," Erica said softly. "I don't hate anyone. Life's too short for that. I just want all the violence and killing to end."
"It was wrong," Yuri said. "What my country do was wrong. Send soldiers to kill innocent civilians. That is never right."
"I'm glad you see that now," Erica said.
"I really am sorry about Toni," Yuri said. "I don't know what I do if something like that happen to Sonya. It would drive me crazy."
"I hope it never does," said Erica.
"Thank you, Erica," said Yuri. "I am very happy to have you as friend."
"Go back to sleep, little one," said Yuri. "Everything will be all right." She lay back down, and Yuri tenderly tucked her in and kissed her cheek.
Neither of them had any idea that Tex had been passing by on his way to the restroom and had heard Yuri speak.