Audio Narration: https://bit.ly/2L8dwhN
Writer : Thiên Thanh
Narrator: Thanh Long.
Narrator: Thanh Long.
(Thiên Thanh) (*)
The sky is blue. It's mostly been blue, even on days when it isn't, when there would be subtle tones of purple and pink streaking across the sky. Still, blue is overwhelmingly there, like a blanket covering the Earth.
I recall, as a child sitting on my mother's lap, stories of those rare moments when the sky changed colors. One such instance, I was told, was during the Battle of Lexiworg. My father, who having fought that eventful day, had been the few remaining on the battlefield when those usual streaks that often dusted the sky disappeared and the blue transformed into an almost celestial white. No one knew why it happened, and my father fainted before he witnessed any more of the sight. Yet, the brilliance in which he relayed this incident ignited my curiosity and filled me with an undying eagerness to experience the miracle myself.
I forgot about this goal for a while, and by my adult years, I determined it was simply a myth.
But the topic about the sky came back, this time in the vicinity of a hospital room, one that contained bright windows and pastel-colored wallpaper.
“Why is the sky blue, Tom?”
Jane had reached the stage where she wanted to grasp as much knowledge as possible, perhaps as a way to cope with her almost certain death. I would never tell her that though.
“Molecules in the air scatter blue light from the sun more than they scatter red light. That's why it's blue.”
She laughed, the sort of laugh that was soft and made you feel giddy inside. “You and your scientific explanations. But I mean, why is it really blue?”
Not knowing the answer, we sat in comfortable silence for a while.
Just when I thought Jane—who had snuggled in the coarse sheets of the hospital bed—had fallen asleep, she finally spoke up, “Do you think I'll survive, Tom? And even if I do, will we be the same as we were before?”
Leaning forward in my chair, I reached across the bed and grasped her hand. “You'll live. And things...things will get better. ”
“You mean we could be happy for once.” Her usually vibrant blue eyes, which were now dull, shifted away from mine and stared out at the airy landscapes outside the hospital window.
“We've always been happy. I've got you and the dogs and…”
“No. We've never been happy, you know it. Even before this… this thing happened… you remember.”
I remembered. “I'm sorry.”
“You should be.”
“I can't wait to see the baby.”
“I thought you said you didn't want it.” She was gazing out the window again.
I let out a sigh and leaned back in the chair. “I don’t want it if it means losing you.”
“You lost me a long time ago,” she whispered, although it was more of a murmurous discord than anything else. Still, it rung in my mind, in that harsh, dissonant tone that left my soul aching and my heart broken. And in that moment, I desired nothing but to touch her and to whisper in my own words that I changed my mind, that I was a man now, and that I regretted every moment of ever thinking of leaving our future behind.
Instead, the words that spilled out were that of a coward. “I… I stayed though, didn't I?”
“Sure, after you already had your bags packed and I got… sick.”
A pause. And then:
“God, how did I even love you?”
“I think it’s best if you leave.”
Another pause, but when it seemed that she had nothing more to say, I left the room, but not before glancing back at the girl whom I had lost, and who—having her back turned towards me—was still looking aimlessly through the window.
It was not until the next morning, when the orange sun barely rose against the edges of the hills and the grass was soaked in fresh dew, that I went back to the hospital, albeit not only for Jane but for a different reason: the baby was being born.
It was a surreal feeling, lingering anxiously in the hallways after I had received the news. Endless possibilities of the future, both good and bad, lay before my eyes, and a combination of unwavering hopes and itinerant doubts hung above the air, making it nearly impossible to breathe. It went on like this for quite some time, but finally, the door to Jane’s room creaked opened, and the nurse motioned me in.
I approached the room in a cautious tone and immediately was greeted with the sight of a crying babe held by nurses who were kneeling beside the hospital bed.
“Here, hold her. Her name is Nova.”
So I held her, and the moment that I did, all my previous thoughts and doubts dissipated, and I was filled with a surge of pure adoration. There were no words to describe the true beauty as when she lay so sweetly in my arms, and perhaps there never will be. Still, as much as words can muster, I will simply say she was the most beautiful creation I had ever laid my eyes on.
I looked towards Jane. “Jane, darling, you must hold her!”
Jane smiled broadly. She held Nova briefly, and in the peace of the hospital room, I heard her hum a wordless tune, brought to life only by the sweet, haunting notes accompanying it.
Our eyes interlocked and our hands touched, exchanging trails of the things left unsaid, the what-ifs and what-could-have-beens, an unwavering hope of whatever would come next. But more importantly, above the hopes and dreams and possibilities, I could almost hear her say, “Thank you.”
Then her eyes closed, and the connection was forever broken. I felt the last breath, the lingering soul that would soon drift into the ashes of obscurity, leaving room for new life.
Around that same moment, as Nova snuggled closer to my chest, something called to me, and like a thin thread, pulled me ever so slightly to the window Jane had pondered at only a day before.
There, above the hems of the hills, in the quiet melody of birds, and where leaves shuddered by the touch of wind, I saw it: a white sky.
(*) Thanh, She is my grandchild. She is 19 years old and loves to write music, stories and poems.