Peaches checked on Girl, her goldfish. I’d seen her watching Girl and wondered what she was thinking. But little sisters need to have private thoughts, too, so I didn’t ask, and I went to my room.
Minutes later, Peaches hopped on her bed and I closed my eyes, pretending I was sleeping. I thought I’d fooled her. No sooner than I was drifting off Peaches called, “G-baby?”
I cracked my eyes open. “What is it?”
“It’s about Girl.”
“What about her?
“Does . . . ?”
“Does Girl have to die?”
“Someday, Peaches. Everything has to some day.”
“Even if I take real good care of her for always?”
“Yeah, even then. But the better you do that, the longer she’ll live.”
“Oh, okay.” She fumbled with the tiny stethoscope around Nurse Barbie’s neck for a minute or two. “G-baby?”
“Daddy got Girl so we wouldn’t miss him so much, huh?”
“No. He bought it ’cause Mama wouldn’t let you have a rabbit, remember?”
Actually, Peaches was onto something, but I didn’t want her believing Girl was some sorta replacement for our daddy.
“Do you think Daddy still loves us?”
Now I felt really guilty for talking about Daddy to Mama.
“You just asked me that a little while ago.”
“No, I didn’t. I asked did you still love Daddy. That ain’t the same.”
“Well, the answer is the same. Of course Daddy still loves us.”
“How I know you’re not lying?”
“What Mama say about that word?”
“Sorry . . . You might been fibbin’ or telling a story.”
“I don’t have to fib about Daddy. We talked to him a few days ago, right?”
“It was eight. I counted backwards.”
I sighed. “Okay, eight. That’s not that long.”
“Yeah. But he got a new wife.”
“I know. We were flower girls, just like at Mama’s wedding. That means he loves us, too.”
She took a deep breath. “What if he runs out of love? You know, give it all away to her and don’t have none left for us?”
“That won’t happen, Peaches.”
“How you know?”
“’Cause love don’t run out like that.”
“Like gasoline. Love ain’t like that.”
“How is it then?” she asked, turning on her stomach to face me.
I’d been working on that question since she asked me the first time, and I still was tuning up my answer.
“Well?” Peaches nudged.
“It’s like sky. If you keep driving and driving, gas will run out, right?”
“That’s why we gotta go to the gas station.” She flung her covers back and jumped into my bed.
“Yep. But have you ever seen the sky run out? No matter how far we go?”
“No, when we look up, there it is.”
“Well, that’s the kind of love Daddy and Mama have for us, Peaches—love like sky.”
“It never ends?”
Moments later, she had fallen back asleep and was hogging most of my bed. That answer was good enough for Peaches, and I believed it, too, sorta. Daddy hadn’t been calling as much as he used to, but I didn’t want to worry Peaches. I figured the best thing to do was love her that much more in case Daddy’s new wife made his love run out just a little.
“Excerpt from LOVE LIKE SKY by Leslie C. Youngblood ©2018. Reprinted by permission of Disney-Hyperion/Disney Publishing Worldwide. Note: This excerpt has been changed slightly from its original format.”
Leslie C. Youngblood received an MFA from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She's been awarded a host of writing honors including a 2014 Yaddo's Elizabeth Ames Residency, the Lorian Hemingway Short Story Prize, a Hurston Wright Fellowship, and the Room of Her Own Foundation's 2009 Orlando Short Story Prize. In 2010 she won the Go On Girl! Book Club Aspiring Writer Award. Her work has appeared in the Indiana Review, as well as the Best of Kweli. Born in Bogalusa, Louisiana, and raised in Rochester, New York, she's fortunate to have a family of natural storytellers and a circle of supportive family and friends. Love Like Sky is her debut novel. Love Like Sky is available for pre-order at Amazon.