Skye was there when Grace arrived at Redbird Ranch. Grace had never really given the details of her occupancy much thought. Until recently. She reached out to Katy Niles, furniture maker extraordinaire, and ordered a custom bunk bed. One that would fit just perfectly in the remaining open space in her room. And match the one Katy had custom built for Grace.
Grace was just putting the finishing touches on the bunk beds when Skye came in.
"Whoa...wha...whose...you didn't say you were getting these!"
"Well" Grace explained as she came down off the ladder, "Elecktra is coming to visit for a couple of weeks."
"One of my cousins. From Massachusetts."
Skye twisted around a little bit, fumbling for words.
Skye had latched on to Grace from the moment she arrived in California. Skye was a natural with animals, a willing learner, always helpful, always hungry...and selfless. She was easily as excited to create a living space for Grace as Grace was to have one. She asked for nothing in return. But her longing for family was palpable.
Skye went, young and nimble, straight up the ladder to the top bunk, and sunk into the softest mattress.
"I'm from Massachusetts too, kind of." Skye said. "The Field family fostered me for a while. So, if Elecktra is your cousin, than you and I are sisters. Right? I mean, foster sisters...I mean, I'm your foster sister."
There were a thousand ways to answer that question, but only one that was going to heal whatever wounds this strong and simultaneously fragile pre-teen girl was walking around with.
"I hadn't thought of it that way" Grace said. "I guess you could be my foster sister." There was a warm silence.
"Now hop down and give me a hand. I made something, and it's heavy, and now that the beds are here I'm not sure it's going to fit."
And so the sisters shoved tables and shifted rugs and carefully, using an old towel beneath it, slid Grace's creation across the floor and into place; a lamp made of string lights and manzanita limbs, fitted to a resin base with a huge river rock to balance it. Grace plugged it in and it glowed like a Christmas tree...only somehow even more magical.
Then Grace brought out some storage tubs, and a large paper tablet, with sheets lined on one side and blank on the other.
"We'll have to use the tubs as chairs for now. And Skye, the tablet is for you."
Skye's eyes were wide. Her lips parted but no sound came out.
"And this" Grace said, lifting a primer grey model horse of considerable dimension onto the table, "is my NaMoPaiMo horse."
More silence before Skye could speak. "Wow. Just...wow. An Arabian."
Grace went about putting things away, stopping to gaze at her NaMo pony, getting lost in thoughts of how she would paint it. She heard a soft, child-like voice, just a whisper, not words that she could understand. Glancing up to the top bunk, she found Skye, smiling, admiring her new paper tablet, happily and quietly speaking, perhaps to herself, perhaps to the whole of the universe; legs tucked under the covers, content.