She sat there with wide unblinking eyes.  Shock, I was almost sure.  “Emma?  Emma dear can I get you anything?”  Nothing.  Her stormy blue eyes didn’t even drift towards my voice or her head cock to the side to hear me better.  A different tactic then.  “I hope you don’t mind if I read out loud Emma?”  Still nothing.  “I’m a little upset and reading always makes me feel better…and I have just the book.”  It was a ‘Once upon a time’ story with an obvious evil defeated by the miraculous hero, and I told it as if I were on Broadway.  There were character voices, dramatic hand motions, and even sly looks over the book as I turned the pages.  “The wicked creature was never heard from nor seen again, and the beautiful princess lived happily ever after.”  I needed for her to hear those words, to believe in them.  I needed them to penetrate the fog.

“What does ever after mean?”

That tiny quiet voice could have put an angelic host to shame in that moment.  “It means after the bad or scary moments you get only happy ones, happy smiley moments forever Emma.  Doesn’t that sound nice?”  The dragging silence was slowly killing me.

“Do I get an ever after?”

“Yes Emma, yes you do.”  I stared deep into her eyes willing the clouds to lift and her face brighten.  “I’m going to make sure of it,” I meant it too.  The universe be damned.  This girl had seen more horrors than could fill a lifetime, and now Emma was going to have smiles, flowers, and a happy ending.  So help me God.

“Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.”

― G.K. Chesterton