Luisa hefted Chan up on her hip again and sighed. Everyone else had cleared out days before except this single mother, who had never owned a vehicle, and her small child. Their neighbors had packed everything into their cars and driven away, tires screeching, with no extra room available. The threat of the world’s most massive earthquake had a way of causing this type of reaction, but Luisa still felt rattled though the real shaking hadn’t even begun.
They topped the hill. Luisa noticed an old crop dusting plane and a man loading supplies into it.
Luisa ran to him. “Sir, can you take us with you? Wherever you’re going. Anywhere away from here.”
The man’s dark face was sorrowful. “This is only a two-seater. I have my mother.” He squinted at Chan. “I could probably squeeze him in, but not both of you.”
“Yes! Yes, take him, please.”
“We’ll leave early. You can sleep in the barn tonight.” He wiped his forehead wearily. “I’m sorry I can’t take you both.”
On her way to the barn, Luisa was interrupted by a small voice calling from the window of a weather-beaten house.
An old lady peered out. “What is your name?”
Chan answered, “Her name is Mama.”
The old lady smiled. “Really? That’s my name, too! The most lovely name in the world. But some people call me Dorotea.” She reached out a gnarled hand to Chan, who took it without hesitation.
Dorotea gestured toward the man. “My son. Julian. He loves his Mama, but he needs much more than me. In the morning, you’ll have a place on the plane.”
“But he said there’s no room.”
“I’ll have my own set of wings soon enough. I don’t need his, dear.”
Luisa tried to understand the woman’s words as she settled Chan in the hay.
Inside the house, Dorotea smiled and swallowed some extra pills before bedtime. She fell into a peaceful sleep from which she would never awaken.
In the morning, Julian flew away with Luisa and Chan beside him as the world below began to quake.