• The little girl giggled to herself as she played. Her guardian stood by. He was a man of sturdy build, his shoulders broad and his arms corded with bulky muscle. His neck and chest glinted in the heavy sun, the metal of his augment heating in the direct light. Above them was one, wispy cloud.

    “You know they used to drop water.”

    The little girl looked up at the sound of his voice. It was like hearing the toll of a great bell. It was deep and settled nicely right in the chest.

    “What?” He pointed to the cloud and she followed his finger. “How?" She asked, amazed, scooting closer to her guard.

    “It was a long time ago.” He smiled down at her. “But they say that there will be a time when clouds will cover the sky and a waterfall will rain upon the land, and the land will be covered with water.” She was transfixed. To make it more dramatic, he knelt down and began to whisper. “The boats would no longer have wheels, but propellers to make us ZOOM—“ He grabbed her sides and she squealed at his tickling, “–over the water.”

    She escaped his big hands and looked at the sky then the ground, and then back to the sky. Until finally her blue eyes looked to him, “Does that mean water won’t be worth anything?”

    He smiled. “There will be so much water, that it will be free.” He scooped some sand in his hands. “And it would be the land that everyone bought.” The sand sifted through his fingers until only a small amount was left. “Even a single grain would be treasured.”

    As he said that, she folded her skirt, the petticoat showing beneath the brown, and began to put sand in the temporary pocket. Sand was spilling everywhere, settling in every crease of her dress.

    He laughed. “What are you doing?”

    “Im gathering sand, so I can be rich!” She responded.

    Again, his laugh filled the air. He reached for his neck, wear a small, empty bottle rested, and he tugged it over his head. The leather cord caught the augmented metal of his neck, but it came free with little damage. “Here.” He uncorked the bottle, and handed it to her.

    Her little hands poured the sand in the bottle while he brushed her dressed clean with his hands. When she was done and free of sand, he took the bottle, corked it, and settled it around her neck.

    “There,” he muttered softly, “Now you’ll always have a piece of treasure."