*Chapter 1*

It was a typical warm summer morning out in the blistering farm, I was out finishing up plowing the fields as my body bathed in sweat and must. The afternoon had been hell for me, the baking heat, the blinding light, I was in an oven frying alive under the unforgiven sun. Thank god the dastardly star was waning or else I would have died underneath her thumb.

I thought that I could possibly make to plow my last row before the sun could disappear in the horizon having the moon to cool me off, but my body ached from working all day... I do not plan to work all night, stories have it that strange things happen to people when they don't get enough sleep, and believe me I do not want to be one of them.

Tired and exhausted, sweeping the pool of sweat sliding from my face much like an flooding river going over the edge much like a waterfall I turned to the old shack behind me; the house was not all that spectacular or merry, or pedestrian and ordinary. It was just a shack, a shack our parents left for me before they perished. It was an old house, time has done away with the old hearth, but it was still in good condition... I bet. I often dream to leave this land to somewhere better, but that was a long time ago. This land here, this land all around me even though was abandoned long ago still have some resources that we can scrap. But who's complaining? Around here, despite the heat, I get to see the beauty of the prairie, watching the tall grass bloom in the wind, the awe inspiring hills in the distance and the crystal stream flowing to the valley yonder pass the small village too small to see.

Calling it a day, I picked up my rake and walked up to the porch to where I spotted through the window Nya on the floor inches away from the kitchen tables. She was hungry I could tell. We had not eaten for the pass few days since the drought occurred.

I thought that I wouldn't succumb to the disadvantages of nature - looks like I was wrong. I opened the door and saw her sitting against the wall; she held her bear and brushed it gently on its head. I crouched to the floor and brushed my head gently against her wild nappy hair.

"Nya? Why are doing on the floor?" I asked.

Nya turned her head to me.

"Nya?"

"I hear them?"

"Hear who?"

"Them, the wind rustling in the air. I hear them. Can you?" I furrowed, then suddenly I realized something, the night it happened...the night when she died in front of us when that thug shot her at the market. It was too soon for us to lose her. Too soon. What can say to her about such a topic like this? Something like death is difficult to explain to a child. How can she bear it? How will she? I was scared on what was going to happen.

"It's okay if you can't hear them," she said, "Because they can hear you."

"How?" I asked.

"Our souls match theirs," she said, "Its like you said Michael, they are watching over us." I smiled warmly and nodded, "Yes, yes they are." I said, "Come here." She crawled over to me and wrapped my arms around her as the light from the window waned letting in the darkness.

We didn't go to school like other kids our age. Our parents taught us everything they knew, often giving me notebooks they used when they were in school. Like other kids I was a bit of a slouch. I thought that being taught such quote on quote nonsense was a total waste of time. Turns out I was wrong. The older I got the more wise I had become...more like my old man - if only I was like him.

My parents were legendary, incredible even, even to the point of me calling them teachers and prophets...always protecting us...showing us the gateways to greatness - but for all legends they all pass away. They may be gone, but they are never forgotten. I would never forget their teachings; I would teach Nya the fundamentals: English, Math, Science...etc. Just enough for her to survive.

I carried Nya to her small bedroom consisting only a bed, a small bookcase, and a closet full of clothes that I had made for her to wear: five identical pairs of pants and 5 shirts made of wool and/or cotton. I gently laced her on her bed and tucked her in her blankets. Her eyes were not leaving me as I prepared her for the night.

"I know I've been working all week, but I'm trying honey..."

"I have no doubts," she croaked, "I believe that you can succeed."

"Really?"

"Mmm hmm, everyone makes mistakes, Michael," she said, "I know that you won't give up no matter how hard life seems." I smiled, "You're sweet."

She smiled back, "Can you read me a bedtime story?" she asked with those sparkling brown eyes, begging to be covered. I giggled.

"Alright," I said spotting an old chair at the corner yonder, "Just let me get my best chair." I walked over to the corner and pulled the chair from the corner to the bedside.

"Wait, you have no book," she noticed, "How can you tell a story without a book?"

"Ahh, but a book is written is it not? How fun can that be if the ending is already told?" I asked playfully tickling her while making soft childish roars.

I cleared my throat and I began...

"There once was an acorn who was small and static with a golden heart encased in its shell. He was sad and lonely, alone in the vast world. Then one day a warring storm poured onto the thick brown shell, tapping the nut drop by drop. Drip. Drip. Drip. The storm lasted for days upon weeks, upon months, upon years. Then finally one day, the acorn became green and sprouted, becoming stronger and durable. He grew arms, he grew a thick wooden trunk," I honked her nose and she laughed, "He grew and grew until the day the little acorn was no longer an acorn but a guardian. A guardian angel who protected the creatures living among it. And that was the name of the Acorn who became a Tree..." I said, my thoughts being interrupted by Nya sleeping, "Good night," I said kissing her on her forehead.

I walked quietly out of her room, shutting off the lights and closing the door.

In the bathroom, I took a long glance at the mirror, just thinking. Memories rushing to my head the more I thought. Michael, no matter how hard life seems, keep fighting," my mom said as I remembered that dark rainy day as I held her in my arms seeing the bloody hole on her chest as blood seeped from it. The more I thought about it, tears would slide down my face. The memory was still fresh. I could still feel the cool icy rain striking my body, pelting its sharp claws against my body. I remembered holding her hand firmly before it slipped from my grip. I could still remember the dreaded exhale, the whimper, the tears, that last look...it was still fresh. What have I done to deserve this? What more could I done to prevent this?

A tear slid down my face as I sobbed in the coolness of the night.

"I'm so sorry," I sobbed lightly.

Just before I turned around to get to bed, I felt something hugging my leg. It was Nya! I crouched down and wrapped my arms around her as I silently cry in the night.