I was sitting on the bank of a small stream. A rock, flat and almost smooth, kept my shorts out of the mud, but it was angled such that constant attention was needed to keep me from sliding forward. One bare foot was on a rock in the water, the other squishing nicely into the muddy bank. A stick, to poke various things, was my toy of the moment.
My mind, such as it was, was elsewhere.
I sensed her, behind me. Part of it was just a wish, enough so that I wasn't sure until she spoke. So few wishes had come true...
Liz sat down beside me. She was about ten, thin limbs poking out of a black t-shirt and cut off jeans. Your first impression might be she had the dark tan of a tomboy, until you saw the rounded face under short black hair, the eyes behind wire framed glasses, at which point you corrected to "Asian". To me, she had always been just Liz.
"What are you doing?"
I said it without thought, for in a dream thoughts were not to be trusted. They swirled, confused. I did not want to think. Not now.
Her voice was speculative, unsurprised. Turning a small flat rock in the stream over with my stick, I nodded.
"I am. I know that."
"Hmm ... so, that's why you're a kid."
Smiling, I turned to look at her.
"So are you." Her eyes widened, looking down at herself for the first time. I nodded. "Yeah, I know. I never see myself in my dreams, so honestly didn't really notice until I saw you."
We both turned back to the stream. Liz let her bare feet drag in the water, toes appearing to bend at unnatural angles under the surface. Her own stick, the same size as mine, began poking. With unspoken division of labor, we began moving rocks to try and dam a small section.
"So," she said, low voice sad, "you're asleep?"
"Yeah. Tried to take a nap. Looks like it worked." She nodded.
"Nothing I've gotten a call over. My alarm's set, so I can go meet the bus. Eric may go right from work to the hospital, or he may stop home to pick up the kid." I sighed, watching a small cloud of mud float away from a black stone as I dug around the edge. "It's all in flux."
Liz sighed. She was bigger. The pre-teen I never knew was replaced by a teen, curves hidden under an oversized shirt, still black.
"She'll be OK. The operation is ... well..."
I nodded, shoving the point of the stick into the mud. My arm was no longer smooth and tan, dark hairs now scattered over the skin.
"Yeah. But, then there's the nuking, the chemo..."