When I was at the market earlier today, a little girl—six at most—stood in line behind me with her father. She looked up at me, while I put the basket with my meat and wine and lemons on the cashier’s counter, and asked, “Have you ever seen the sky?”
“Of course,” I said, without focusing on the question.
“What’s it like?” she asked.
Not everyone has cause to travel like I do, and it’s easy to forget how many people in New Coyoacán have never left the city. Even so, this took me by surprise. “You have not been taken to a window?” I said, no doubt sounding too incredulous to be polite. of Her father’s expression had started with that you know how kids are fluster, but now had a resentful edge, as if I’d just made a veiled accusation of child abuse. “I don’t have the opportunity to get out there,” he mumbled. “I’d like to.”
His conversion was pretty light: feline traces about his cheek, barely more than tattoos; ears pointed but still human; a short tail. His daughter remained completely human. In New Coyoacán that makes them the self-conscious ones, although I’m sure the child was too young to feel that way. But her father, looking up at a six-foot-six full wolf totemic woman—he looked like someone trying not to look nervous. He kept his face merely dour, but his scent gave him away.
I touched the sale authorization pad, and as the cashier bagged my groceries, I crouched down in front of the girl. “It’s black,” I said. “If you turn out the lights, and close your eyes, it won’t be nearly as black as the sky is.”
“That sounds scary,” she said.
I shook my head, and smiled, careful not to show more than the tips of my teeth. “Across the blackness of the sky, there are bright white lights, like crystals—stars. Millions of them, everywhere. The brightest, biggest yellow star is the sun, but it’s not the biggest thing in the sky. Mars is, a big, bright red ball. The sky’s very beautiful.”
She nodded, eyes wide, and smiled back. “I wanna see it!”
I stood up. “I’m sure you will.” I looked at her father, and he nodded hurriedly, as if he was worried I might find him someday soon and make sure he’d done his duty.
(Vague explanation here.)