This was penned as part of a college (FDU) creative writing course. We were given a picture-prompt, like on the standardized tests--a sad-looking girl with crooked braids, her head tilted, and a guy in a business suit, with neat hair and a strange smile. We were to write a meeting between these two people, focusing on sensory description, in about five minutes. Then we read them out loud, and everyone was asked to say what stood out most, sensory or otherwise, about each story.

Deep eyes. He remembered them from other times, other places--countless places now. The little girl sat on her family's stoop in the bright light and looked at him simply as Mark sat down next to her, shuffling his feet away from the mud of the road.

She said, unhesitantly, "My name is Ana Lucia Perez."

"Hello." He said. "Can you tell me what happened here today?"

She nodded a little. "The sky fell."

A tank squished by on heavy treads. The streets ended abruptly here and the rolling, mossy fields immediately took over the landscape from them, denying the human architecture its place. Clouds set in the blue above, and the signs were all in the distance; a shade on the horizon, a curved mirage-image.

The girl survivor--Mark could not call her Ana--looked at him with that deepness again. "Didn't you come from the sky?"

"Yes. I saw--what did you see?"

"Mama told me not to answer questions by strangers."

"Kid, I'm no stranger to you. In the sky, you know there's a planet called Earth. we've both been there, because all colonists are born on Earth. The people who made the sky fall, they've never been to Earth. They're strangers." He almost winced, and the anger and how simple it was.

"Well," said she. "The sky broke. In pieces. The little wings came down."

So she had seen too much. The implant at Mark's ear squeaked his knowledge inexorably away and he held out a hand to Ana Lucia. She took it, unerringly now.

The wings came from his back, and he lifted into the sky with the girl tucked next to him, watching the pieces of the planets' ruined ring spray out below him. Colonists all--