Morning breaks the window open, sets sunlight to shatter on the floor, the scorpions to scatter. They run for walls, but Jordan climbs from bed, his dream head raw, brooms them to the door.
A young boy appears, still untouched by caution, a child who never had a fall he couldn’t master or a creature from which he couldn’t run. His name is Ethan. He climbs in through the window when the sun creates the trees each day. “Good morning, Mr. Jordan,” he says.
“Good morning Ethan. What do you do?”
“Same. I hear the girl that cries.”
The house is large with a hundred halls. The girl that cries is never still for long, moves from room to room, from nook to cranny. Townsmen say she fell from a ship in the sky, but Jordan doesn’t put legends in his mouth and chew. The island is full of tales and Jordan full of books and learning.
“It’s just the wind, Ethan.”
“Papa says wind is God and girl who cries his daughter.”
Jordan pushes his teeth tight. The boy’s father sailed into an cruel storm; he’s not coming back. Ethan still wraps his heart in hope.
“Let’s go to the kitchen,” says Jordan. “We’ll eat pineapple.”
The island is blue with houses, and green with growth. From the kitchen they see sailcloth in the harbor, and at the edge of their world, the cerulean horizon.
Ethan puts a fork to his plate, lowers his mouth to table, sweeps the sweetness inside. “Where my Papa go?” he asks in between chews.
Jordan sees murky rocks and deep fish behind his eyes. “I don’t know,” he says. Every morning the same question, same innocent wonder, same lie.
“Let’s ask crying girl.”
They walk halls, open doors, ascend stairs. Wind carries the girl from place to place, always around a corner to the left, right, up, down into the secret deep, carved into island rock. House sits inside a larger house inside an even larger house, nested like facing mirrors. Jordan and Ethan pass from room to dimmer room, twist themselves into corridors, spiral stairs around their feet as crying girl calls them further into recesses and farther from the pure grace of waves that break upon their shores.
“This way,” says Ethan. They climb.
Crying girl sits by a small window in the upper reaches of the house. Her hair lies matted with salt breeze; her cheeks streak with grief. She turns toward the door.
“Who?” asks Jordan. His eyebrows stretch higher.
She is daughter, she tells them, of God, who left her alone to watch worlds sail into horizons, who told her to weep for creation and wait until the tide of man turned. She is here, she says, to gather tears from all hearts and enable worlds to stem their sorrow. She is their concealed container, their diversion, that humanity may not confront their deepest anguish alone.
“Where my Papa go?” Ethan asks.
“In good hands.”
Ethan drops his face from his face and shows the boy inside the house inside the mirror. A seed of manhood spouts there, but it is many years from a tree, and many journeys into a jungle of acceptance.
“He is your father now,” says the girl. She points to Jordan.
Ethan turns. “Truth?” he asks.
“Truth,” says Jordan. Crying girl nods.
Wind enters the window, swirls the girl into another corner of the house. Ethan and Jordan return to the kitchen. The sweet smell of pineapple lingers.