A small family sat together, hunkered over a small coffee table. They looked ragged and small and dirty, yet they seemed determined and unyielding, refusing to be scorned by anyone. The father gripped his daughter and wife as if he would never see them again – as if they would be whisked away to some unknown place. Tears glistened in his eyes as his contemplated about his future, no…their future. But he knows. He knows he cannot keep them to himself.
Even as the sandstorm outside cleared, the family refused to separate. Yet…they must because if they don’t, it would be the death of them. The future seems so cold, so harsh. How can the once innocent path turn out to be so dark?
Their door slid open unexpectedly, no…they were expecting it, and a delegate from the government stepped through. She looked at them solemnly. What must be done should be done, even if it meant pain.
“I am sorry,” she whispered into the cold atmosphere of the room. “I do not wish to take her away, but I must.”
The father looked at her, anger apparent in his fiery blue eyes. Seizing control of the moment, he jumped up. This will be the last time he will be fighting for them, even though he knew that he will not succeed.
In a low inhuman voice, he growled, “Why must you take them away? They are my family and I deserve to be with them, protecting them.”
The young delegate, with heavy sadness lacing her voice, responded, “Do you wish for your daughter-and, yes, we are just taking your daughter-to suffer in this wasteland? Do you not wish for her to grow up in a different world? A world where the sun doesn’t bake us to death every time we step outside. A world where she can grow up knowing what nature is.”
Tears rolled down her cheek. “I understand. I understand your pain. I don’t mean to swoop in to take your child away and…I-I know we cannot provide her with what a family can…but it is worth it if she does not see this world slowly dying and wasting away. The new planet is our best chance…our only hope.”
The mother’s lips curved into a faint smile. She drew her child into her arms and cupped her face. As she gazed into the fearful eyes of the quiet child, she felt her heart breaking. How can I ever leave you? she thought. How can I stand not seeing you for the rest of your life? How can I miss seeing you grow up?
But she understood, and she hoped for her child’s future, a brighter future than living in this dying planet – a planet that had once teemed with life.
Placing her hand on her child’s shoulders, she felt her child quiver. “You must do this. You must be strong…Not just for yourself, but for us. Don’t look back. Promise me?”
The child was on the verge of crying, but she does not. She knew that if she does cry, her father and mother would worry about her, she does not want them to. She wants them to know that she can do this, so, strengthening her voice, she said, “I promise.”
But a promise is just a promise. How can she stay strong? Especially in the midst of strangers. How can she stay strong when she knew that her parents are going to die here – a planet slowly disintegrating? How can she stay strong when she knows that she will be the only one in her family living by the end of this ordeal? How can she when all she thinks of is how selfish she is?
The mother, as if sensing her doubt, said, “You can do this. Hope, look at me-” She does. “You can do this. I know how strong you are. Your father and I are proud of you. Really proud. Do you understand?”
By this time, the girl was crying heavily, and her father, who was watching from the corner, was also crying. All he thought was that his daughter would finally get to live in a better world. He felt a mix of relief and deep grief.
The mother looked up at the delegate after the girl nodded. Her eyes said, “Give her what I can’t give. Make her understand. Make her forgive me.” The delegate understood.
She stepped forward and gently took the hand of the sobbing girl. “Hope, come with me.”