Libby looked around. Papa had taught her to always take note of her surroundings. She felt proud for remembering what Papa said. She couldn’t wait to tell him what a big girl she was. She could see him smiling at her. But then the face changed in her mind. It was pale and worried. She saw him as he searched frantically for her. He and Mama scampered up every bush and every tree around their home.
When Libby thought about Mama and Papa she started to cry. She burrowed back under the root, sad and afraid, tucked her head beneath her front webbed feet and turned herself a pale brown. She wanted to hide in the shadows.
How could she do this on her own? She was not like her great-great-great-grandfather Luis. He was a brave adventurer! She was only a little girl! She had never been away from home before! Not even a foot away!
Suddenly, somewhere inside of her she heard a voice, “Be strong and courageous. I am with you.”
She wondered for a moment who had spoken. But only a moment. Mama had told her that sometimes the voice inside of you is God, the creator of all things, both big and small. She remembered Mama tucking her in at night. Sometimes, when she was afraid, Mama would lie her head upon hers and sing to her.
Then with a voice, so calm and certain, Mama would say, “It’s okay to afraid, bébé. But don’t allow fear to have you.”
Tonight would be the first night of her life Mama would not tuck her in. But Libby lifted her head and crawled from her hiding place. She noticed the huge building. She saw humans-little and big-coming in and out. Some carried flowers or teddy bears. Others held big circles covered in blue or pink ribbons. Some wore masks. Some were crying. Some seemed happy. Others looked as afraid as she felt.
The sign in front of the building read B-A-P-T-I-S-T. She wondered what that meant.
Green spaces surrounded hard asphalt. She closed her eyes and breathed. Gas fumes mingled with the spicy aromas of tacos and the familiar scent of fried chicken. People chatted, engines roared-speeding past, turning in, or going out.
She was in the city!
She opened her eyes and lifted her head, looking for the sun. It had passed the middle of the sky and was just a little past it to the west. It was afternoon. Gran’s car was still in the giant driveway but she knew Gran would not go back to Luna’s and Killian’s house. She had been alone. There was no reason to return. Libby would find another way.
She heard Papa’s voice in her mind. “Never look afraid, Chère, even when you are. Act like you belong wherever you may be.”
She was indeed afraid, but she put on her brave face, stepped courageously onto the grass and stood still while she turned from brown to green. She looked again at the sun. Home was east. She felt it in her bones. Then she took a step and then another. These were her first steps toward home.