No one — at least no one in the neighborhood — could say exactly which town, city, state or province the events described herein allegedly unfolded.
Octagon Freemont-Ballpark Safeway didn’t believe them either way. But on long walks to the desalination facility with empty buckets, he couldn’t help but let his mind wander through the pathways of the popular fable, passed along like rare coins in the alleys and under the boardwalks of the Old Part of Half-Price Value Town.
That a ghost-like woman appeared in the sky wasn’t so incredible on the surface of it. A lot of people saw things every day that didn’t exist but in their own minds. But a lot of people together is something else entirely. Maybe they were poor, maybe they were drunk, maybe it was late… But they saw something — all the same woman, and after a complex initial pantomime in which first she held a finger to her lips briefly, lifted a single flower from the field at her feet, and blew on it, dispersing the seedheads to the wind — and they all heard her speak aloud the same words:
“Love my children.”
The people stood in awe. A few of them dropped the beer bottles they were clutching, and a few of those found a hard surface and broke.
Cigarettes dropped out of mouths.
The actual children cried: the older ones asking mommy what does it mean?
It doesn’t mean anything, Octagon reflected, pace quickening to be able to make sure he could get there and home on time so he didn’t have to sleep on the streets trying to guard two full 5 gal buckets of salt all night long.