The sun didn't wake Azure that morning.
Her glassy blue eyes popped open when her body was rested enough for play time. She stretched and felt her knees and elbows click as her arms splayed beneath her plush quilt. The slick yellow ceiling and walls helped illuminate the room without much sun. Each of the four walls had stickers with different silly shapes from soccer balls with flames to smiley faces. Between those were crayon drawings of a boy and girl with matching eyes. They were jumping, eating cupcakes, or sitting on the moon playing checkers. Every time Ean played a new game with Azure, they would draw their adventure and glue it to an empty space on the wall. She would need new rooms soon for their new pictures.
Azure swung her legs to the side of the bed and hopped down. Her white cotton dress bubbled up around her like a parachute. She skipped to the window where lace curtains were drawn, barely making a sound as her wool socks padded along the thick carpet. If Ean wasn't knocking on her front door yet, he was probably waiting to surprise her.
Azure threw the curtains aside. Her perfect clear blue sky looked paler than most days. A few thin clouds trailed by like cracks in the ice cubes that bobbed in her strawberry lemonade. Something about the edge of town in the distance looked strange too. Where the silhouette of the buildings normally stretched to the horizon forever, now they seemed to dip like the edge of a ball.
In her heart, Azure knew something was wrong.
The little girl ran from her room and down the short hallway. She only stopped a moment to try and press down the edges of a peeling sticker. She pulled her hand back from the smooth wall as an icy cold bit at her fingers. If this was Ean's trick, she would yell at him for scaring her.
Azure hopped down the steps into her sparse living room and hurried to the front door. It was as smooth as the walls and had a pink crystal knob. It was also frigid in her touch. She was only used to feeling cold when Ean brought fluffy snowballs to toss around. Those were fun, but this cold hurt.
Azure pulled her arm back into her cotton sleeve and then turned the knob again. A gust of chilled air slapped her face. She hid behind the wooden door while her heart pounded a strange, furious rhythm and she whimpered. The wind could have swept Ean away to another planet. The jump into space from the bell tower would take a lot of energy. Azure peeked around the door with one thin arm covering her face from her orange pigtails that were lashing at her rosy cheeks.
The sky was fading to gray like someone sucking the color out with a straw. Something crashed nearby and Azure slammed the door shut. She ran past the sofa to the window facing the noise outside. The spot where she and Ean shared treetop picnics was now a cloud of dust and dirt spewed into the air as trees began toppling like dominos. Another crash. Azure raced back across the room and through an open doorway to a square kitchen with a faded white oven and silent refrigerator. That window showed the playground that was now a pile of mangled metal bars.
Another crashing sounded right outside of the square house. Azure fell. When she looked up, the ceiling had glowing blue lines in the shape of her stop-sign cookie-cutters. Then each shape twinkled and blew away. She could see straight to the pale sky like her bedroom had only been a dream.
Through tears, Azure saw the walls were fading too. Where her porch once was, she was staring at a nearly transparent slab. It was as thick as she was tall and it stretched into the street. Other chunks of sky fell. Azure was certain now that Ean was lost, gone forever beneath a slice of heaven or somewhere in a pile of her broken world. Was this what happened to his grandmother the day he showed up crying about her being passed away?
The sky was now just so many broken puzzle pieces that she and Ean would never solve together. The black pockets between blue shards were speckled with white dots like a sea of stars. She couldn't pick out any of her favorite constellations for comfort before the black background lightened and cleared.
There was a chubby face smiling down at her. Maybe it was the god Ean talked about sometimes. The one that made her so she could be friends with him. The face looked so familiar.
Behind that pudgy face a second, older face appeared. It shared the same tanned skin and a rounded nose that she had grown so close to. The younger one, the one she was certain was her best friend, smiled. The world shook again and Azure was thrown forward through the wall now mostly erased.
"Careful, buddy," a low, kind roar said. "This is where your new friend will live. You have to take good care of them."
"Oh, sorry, daddy," said the pudgy boy. "When can I go inside to visit?"
"Once it reboots. The instructions for A.Z.U.R.E say it takes a few minutes to get to know you."
Azure gasped at hearing her name in that voice she barely remembered. She looked at the bright blue eyes of the man hovering over his son. Her friend had gotten so big in no time at all. There was no way he could fit into her house anymore. Azure sniffled and covered her face as she felt herself growing colder in the house that was passing away too. She was too afraid to look, too afraid to know what happened next.
"Hello?" said a little voice. It wasn't the heavenly rumbling from moments before. Her surprise made her look up. A boy her size with sweet round cheeks and deep brown eyes smiled at her. The two kids were sitting on a sidewalk outside of a plain green house that was growing. It had sharp edges and bounced the sunlight back in Azure's eyes. "I'm Leon. Are you my friend in the A.Z.U.R.E.?"
Azure shrugged, not sure what he meant. "My name is Azure."
"That means you had a reboot," the boy squealed and clapped. "Do you like blue hair? And a blue shirt so it looks like your eyes?" As he asked, Azure felt her skin tingle. Her nightgown became a blue, floral blouse and a denim skirt. Her pigtails dropped into a new silky curtain around her shoulders. She didn't know who this girl was, but Leon seemed to know. He held out a hand to her. She smiled and extended her own. "We're going to be best friends forever," Leon said.
The two friends rolled in their wheeled sneakers down the clear street. The perfect blue sky brightened their path. There was a private spaceship waiting for its two passengers to launch into the stars.