There used to be a fence here, around this domicile husk. The children, two by two, were ushered through the gates. Small, bare feet hovered above the earth like ghosts, touching air and nothing else. It was the large hands of strangers that swung them over the steps, set them down on the cool tile floor of the orphanage lobby.
The boy remembers that when it stormed the window shades would sway like paper arks, and all the caged animals on the curtains— two rabbits, two canaries, two cats, two dogs— would dissolve to whimpers and scratches, broken only by the sound of thunder or the creak of bed springs in the dark room.
The girl has no memory of fur or feathers. She would listen to the rain fall and pretend the lightning bolts were a carnival of cotton candy. Her numb fingers became paper cones for electric blue curls.
They were called by their former names back then and had promised to one day marry each other. Twenty years later, he’s Mr. Delgado. He addresses her as Mrs. Maya.
“I thought we would never leave this place,” he says.
“I never wanted to,” she responds. “Not without you.”
The crumbling building before them is a forest of charred wood, bones buried beneath bricks.
“Maybe you are still here.” He reaches for her.
In his arms, she doesn’t feel like anything at all.