He sat on a stump in the village square, leaning on his knees and turning his face up to the sun. It was finally warm, and he felt a smile blooming. The interminable northern winter felt like a crushing blow every year, but he could never remember being more grateful for spring.
A delighted shriek pierced the air. A dark-haired toddler was staggering after a fluttering scrap of yellow just out of her reach, waving her chubby arms and babbling as she went. She had managed to take off her shoes, he noticed ruefully, and her feet and legs were coated with mud. He levered himself up and went to the rescue.
Amaili put her head out the door of the council house, her eyes quickly finding their daughter. He smiled and waved her off. She flashed him a grin and disappeared again. He was sure that whatever they were talking about was important. Once, he would have known what it was. Now he left that for others. He was glad it was Amaili. The Fall hadn’t broken her, and while his heart still sometimes whispered Asiri in the darkness, it was Amaili’s faith that sustained him now. Amaili had gone out into the world again looking for their people almost right away, and he was glad. After the long watch, seeing the City torn stone from stone and piled on the bodies of their dead, he found he just couldn’t any more.
He squelched through the mud toward the little girl. “Come here, Mel-Mel.”
“Daddy!” She pointed imperiously.
“I see it! That’s a butterfly.”
She mouthed the word, giving him a dubious look, and he couldn’t keep from laughing. He caught her up and pressed her giggling face to his, giving in to the joy that never failed to infect him when she was near. This was his life now. He knew he’d never forget any of what had come before, but perhaps — perhaps there was redemption in the world after all.
This week’s Trifecta Writing Challenge calls for 33 to 333 words on the third definition of the word INFECT (verb):
3a : contaminate, corrupt <the inflated writing that infects such stories>
b : to work upon or seize upon so as to induce sympathy, belief, or support <trying to infect their salespeople with their enthusiasm>