by Raksha Narasimhan
Art by Sophie Lin
Issue: Paracosm (Winter 2017)

He places each colored block upon another. The yellows and the reds and the whites grow higher, higher, higher until the little castle he has fabricated has an air of mightiness. If he looks at it out of the corner of his eye, he thinks, he can almost see a little king and queen in the little nooks between the painted blocks.

He hears a thump downstairs—Mom just dropped something in the kitchen again, he thinks.

But when the voices start rising, his stubby fingers plug his little ears. He starts spinning a tale about the little workers he’s constructed out of miniature legos. He can hear the clangs of metal on metal as the noble silver knights clash in combat with each other, the roar of the crowds who chant for their beloved king and queen.

His fantasies are interrupted by a close knock—he looks up at the peeling white door.

“Is everything okay, Mom?” His eyes are wide, pleading.

The two pairs of soft brown eyes connect. They reflect the same chocolatey hue, and they are identical apart from the brokenness behind one pair. This, however, only a careful observer would be able to glean.

“Yes, sweetheart. Everything’s okay.”

With a drop of slightly tensed shoulders, a grin fills his small face. She draws corners of her thin lips up and envelops him in a hug. He’s a little taken aback by the sudden gesture and a little impatient—he’d much rather return to building his castle and the rich tale that goes along with it. He returns the embrace and then squirms away with a giggle, rummaging around to find the perfect pieces to complete his tower.

He finally finds the king and queen lego pieces to place at the top and there they stand, in all their brightly colored and squarish glory. He takes a closer look at the ebony-haired queen—he can almost see the smiling face of his mother in her narrow-lipped smile.

A boy looks up at a castle, with a king and a queen at the top. It is nighttime, and a moon and shooting stars are visible.