It was time for a new path.
She looked over her shoulder to the path behind her, to home and family. She could not see anything. Even if it had been fully daytime she would not have been able to see anything, their home was too far away now.
She faced forward again.
She could not leave them.
She started to turn her head, stopped, a tear fell into her lap. They were not there. Slowly she reached into her tunic and pulled out the chain around her neck. Ah, there they are. Tears fell like a summer storm, racking her small frame with the pain of it, she could no longer hold them in.
She stared at the chain, it was a very lovely chain, created to look like two vines wrapped around each other, intertwined, a full circle. Perfect for what it now held.
She touched the first ring. It was a silver ring with gold and green enamel vines wrapped around it with a black background for a stark contrast. Her brothers ring. He was the first to fall.
The previous sunrise she was with her family; Mother, Father, and Ben, her brother. The news was bleak to say the least. The entire population had been preparing for the evacuation for a while. The moon was being destroyed by bacteria of all things and it was disintegrating, soon it would crumble onto their planet, bacteria and all. Then the fires would start. As the pieces of moon bombarded the planet the planet would burn. The scientists created a net of light, placed it between the moon and the planet, it would not hold forever, hopefully it would hold long enough for the evacuation to be completed.
Their net did not hold back the bacteria.
The moon crumbled. Dust and bacteria rained down on the planet. The People and animals started dying. They would get so tired that they had to lay down or even sit down, wherever they happened to be, then they went to sleep never to wake again. It was a peaceful death.
Ben was a wonderful older brother. Fela followed him everywhere she could. Instead of complaining he was always ready to teach her, to help her in any way. That morning was no different. She followed him around, helping whenever she could, but mostly asking questions. Finally he stopped, knelt in front of her, "it will be okay Fela", then he gave her a big hug. She felt so much better, if Ben said it was going to be okay then it was going to be okay. A little bit later he gave her a wooden box that had her name etched into the top, "You cannot open it until tomorrow, until your birthday", and he walked away leaving her speechless.
Tomorrow was her birthday, she had forgotten, Ben remembered.
Father estimated it would take four trips with the trailer attached to the cart. Just four trips to the ship and that would encompass everything they were allowed to take with them. Everything else would be left behind, left to burn with the planet.
Mother and Fela took the first trip together. After unloading everything into their quarters they took a quick tour of the deck they were on, many of their neighbors and friends were on the same deck. They did not stay long, it was important to finish before the end of the day.
Father and Ben took the second trip. They also took Tiktik, the hound dog, and her seven puppies. The pups were still too young to walk that far so room was made for the small family to ride in the cart. Of course, they would all be put into stasis once they reached the ship. All of the animals were being put into stasis until a new home was found, it could be many years, just one long sleep.
When they returned Mother had a meal prepared and ready. Everyone needed some food and some rest before the final preparations. After the meal everyone lay down for a short nap. Ben never woke up from that nap.
She could tell her parents' hearts were broken as much as hers was, yet they continued with the preparations. Father made the third trip by himself. He was gone so long that Fela and her mother had everything finished by the time he got back. All that was left that needed to go with them was piled next to the door waiting for the cart to return.
Mother excused herself and went to Ben's room. Fela sat on the front stoop, the box Ben had given her sat on her lap, she could not bear to look at his lifeless form again.
She had not been sitting long when Father returned. As he approached her she could see that he was not just tired, small worry lines creased his forehead. When he found out where Mother was he suggested they load the cart before disturbing her. Fela thought that was an excellent idea, anything to delay going into that room.
As they worked Father told her why he was gone so long. People were dying on the ship and they needed help removing them, Father had volunteered. As Father rattled off the names of the fallen Fela's heart broke even more, there were so many, so many of them were friends.
They finished quickly and made their way to Ben's room. Mother sat next to him, her back against the wall, her hand on his head, her eyes open and seeing only the next life. Fela fell to her knees unable to believe the horrors of this day have claimed her mother. Moments passed then Father moved shakily to stand beside the woman he loved. Slowly he removed her necklace, then her ring, then he reached over and removed Ben's ring. He turned back to Fela and knelt in front of her, after putting the rings onto the chain he put the chain around her neck. "Always remember them Fela and they will live forever." He pulled her into his arms, holding her, rocking her, until the vid clicked on in the other room.
It was time to go, the ship was preparing to leave.
Father went to stand and immediately fell back to the floor. "I am so tired Fela. I am so so sorry but I do not believe I will be joining you on the ship".
She furiously shook her head, not trusting her voice to work all she could do was shake her head and plead with her eyes.
His eyes closed. "Follow your path Fela, take the journey, enjoy...the...adventure." And he slept.
Fela stayed until his breathing stopped then she removed his ring and added it to the chain.
The second warning sounded.
Fela ran for the cart not daring to think nor look back.
She lifted her head. The sun bathed the path in brilliant light. The trees beautiful in their fall colors. Leaves of many shades were strewn along the path. It was the best time of year. Tomorrow she would celebrate her tenth birthday on a ship floating in space. Fall was always her favorite time of year but what would it be like without the trees and the leaves and the crisp morning air?
Taking a deep steadying breath Fela tucked the necklace back into her tunic. Scooting forward as far as she could in order to reach the pedals, she started the cart and headed down the path to her future.
Word Count = 1286