From the author: Just a quiet little piece in which a character reminisces on the world. It's a Christmas story, so of course I'm reposting it in July.
Silence. The old woman stared up at the sky, trying to work out why the stars did not look...right. Yes, that was it. The stars were not right, were not in the patterns she thought she remembered. Or her memory was not right, so likely after all of these years.
There was, though, something important about the date. Something that teased at her, spoke to deep memories within.
Winter. It was winter, and that was right, that was as it should be even as the alien orbs burned over her bowed, aged head. Something, and she turned back towards the village.
Dirt. Huts made of mud and weeds, and that too was wrong to her eyes, and the memory was of shining towers and of play where now there was only hard work.
The date. And she strode to the edge of the woods, closer than she should have gone. There were things out there, things that might make prey of a stray human. Yes. That one would do...but none of the men, she knew, would listen to her.
So, there was the answer. It was the year fifty. She knew that. A year less than her age, a year because...ah yes. Because they had come here, had fled here from ice and fire and the dim echoes of war.
To this place where they were aliens, but it was winter and it was something. It was the middle of winter and she went back to her hut. She found ribbons, she found lace, she found brightness and she took it in her arms and went outside, and hung them on the dark branches of the tree. The children joined her, for they did not ask why.
Children asked whys, but they did not ask why now. They saw brilliance and they saw fun and they laughed. She remembered her sons, her daughter. Her children, who now had children and children's children.
But it was a man who asked her. "What is the meaning of this?" Catching them decorating the tree, catching them doing something not for the 'good of the village'. Wasting time.
And she laughed, because she could not remember, except for one thing. "For a new star." A new sun, the new sun that would, in a few hours shine in the sky.
She did not remember, for she did not remember much, but she remembered following a star and she remembered the brightness as they landed, just the images of it.
But she did not remember, now, what it meant. "For peace."
And that was enough, for now.
This story originally appeared in Fifty Flashes (Whortleberry Press).