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"How can I sing 'Jesus Loves Me' after he took Lily away?"
Her grip on her son became tighter and her eyes reminded him of the stray dog his daddy had to shoot.
"Do not say another word about this. Do you hear me?"
"Yes, Mama, please. You're hurting me."
"This is nothing compared to what you'll get if you touch that angel again," she said, puffing with rage.
"Okay, Mama. I won't, I promise." Aaron started to cry. "Please Mama, please let go."
"What's going on?" came a voice from the doorway.
Aaron pleaded with his father, "I'm sorry, Daddy. I touched the angel. I'm sorry. Help me, Daddy."
John rushed across the room to his wife. "Emmy, what are you doing? Emmy, let go." He pulled her away from the boy and stared into her face. Her frozen, expression and rapid breathing frightened even him. She glared past both he and Aaron.
"He touched that angel again. I told him never to do that. He does not listen to me. He..."
"He's a boy," John interrupted, "Get a hold of yourself." He held her tightly causing her body to release its tension in uncontrollable weeping. His own eyes misted in frustration. He missed his old wife, the one unafraid to kill a snake with a hoe or butcher a chicken. The woman he held now was a fragile stranger, reduced to tears in a moment. He longed to see the fiery spirit that once occupied her eyes and wondered how long it would be before the sorrow that lived there now moved on.
"Emmy, Emmy," John said softly, stroking his wife's hair with one hand and her back with the other as she cried on his shoulder. "It's been almost a year since Lily died. You've got to move on."
"Why did he do it, John? What have I done wrong?" Emily hung desperately to her husband.
"What are you talking about? It was not your fault."
"I must have done something for God to take away our beautiful baby girl."
"You're out of your head," John lifted Emily's chin, looked deep in her eyes and spoke very deliberately. "You've got to stop dwelling on this, Emmy. There's nothing you can do for Lily now, but Aaron and I need you."
Emily scanned the room for Aaron, finding him in the doorway, eyes wide. On seeing him her own eyes widened and she covered them with her hands before escaping to the bathroom.
"Why is Mama sad?"
"Your Mama is missing Lily," John answered, his brow wrinkled.
"She misses her a lot, huh?"
John nodded soberly. They listened to water running in the bathroom, a welcome noise breaking the awkward silence. Aaron studied his father's worn face and started biting the inside of his cheek. John sat down and ran a hand through his hair, releasing a heavy sigh. They boy ambled up next to him, leaning into his body slightly, tapping his fingers on his father's leg.
"Hmmm?" John stared out the window.
"Daddy, did God kill Lily?"
Check in tomorrow for Part 3.
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