It's been twenty-three years since the meteor hit our home. My mother was on field that day. I often think of what she might've thought a few moments before, how happy she was on the other side of the world uncovering new things. That morning she called Pa sharing news about her discovery and what she could contribute to the archaeological team. Pa praised her and smiled, the kind that said everything was alright and that Natalie was being fed and clothed properly and mother didn't need to worry about a thing. We never saw her again, of course. But I remember in a distant dream how she looked like: green eyes with brown hair brushing her frail shoulders. She wore diamond earrings all the time despite her field of work; I remember how they glinted next to her rosy cheeks. And jasmine. She smelled of jasmine and ocean water. She called me Lee, short for Natalie. Pa hated that name but has not stopped calling me by it ever since we lost her. He was tall and built; a complete contrast to my mother. He also had brown hair, but it was very dark and the gray in his beard stood out significantly against it. His gray eyes hid beneath furled brows and he often walked with a confident stride, fists on his side. He seemed strong but I knew he was broken inside.
“Lee, eat your breakfast please.” I sat at the table staring out the window at the gray clouds.
“It’s going to rain today, Pa.” I pushed the eggs around.
“You don’t have to be afraid. They’re just rain clouds.”
Our kitchen was small and dirty. We couldn’t keep up with the cleaning since we run everywhere: down to the shop, to Ms. Allison’s 5 blocks over for dinner, and 8 miles to my school. We don’t have cars around here. They were banned years ago. There are buses but Pa doesn’t make enough to afford such luxury. Today I had to be at school and we needed a forty minute start so I could get there on time. I don’t mind running, I can run for a long time without getting tired and Pa’s stamina is incomparable. Ms. Allison said that he could probably outrun the cancer. She’s talking about the global cancer that many eventually contracts at around ninety years old. Even though the energy of the meteor increased the length of human lives by thirty percent, it also emitted a cancerous toxin that slowly built in the bones outward, collecting in tumors that made you toss and turn in the night. At least that’s what Mr. Archie taught in Biology class which was one of only four classes. There was also Math, Reading and Economics. I’m particularly good in reading but Pa wants me to focus more on Economics. “One day, maybe you can be the answer to all this misery,” he’d say on rainy nights.