Shahara moved through the days as if wrapped in a long, gray veil of sorrow. It was a barrier between her and the tasks of burying bodies and making plans to escape the catastrophe Danae insisted was coming. As if anything could be more devastating than what we have already experienced. The world became a faded replica of what it had been, one she could not touch through the all-encompassing shroud that was her grief. She persisted through the necessary tasks, but she could not feel them.
And then one morning the barrier broke. Shahara set a cup of milk on the breakfast table in front of her husband's full plate. As she turned to retrieve a bowl from the counter, her sleeve caught the cup, sweeping it to the floor. The world slowed and she watched the cup tumble, milk drops fat and round, spiraling into the air until the cup crashed, irrevocably broken, the shards milk-white and sharp against the packed dirt floor. In the space of a few heartbeats, the liquid was absorbed, disappearing like blood into the earth.
Volot knelt and gathered the pieces as she watched him. Accusations beat against her lips as the last protective threads of disbelief fell away. "Why is Ahba doing this to us?" Shahara whispered. "He took everything, and now he'll destroy the Earth herself? Because mankind irritated him?" Her voice rose, word by word, into a shrill squeak of outrage.
He looked up at her. Hesitant tendrils of light sought entrance at the open door and somewhere, a bird called morning greetings to her mate. It felt incongruous to her, like a dress stretched too thin, or shoes grown too tight, that the morning should come as it always had, when nothing was the same, or ever would be again.
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