He stood before the small basin of water, resting on a rickety table on the other side of the cabin and unwrapped their daughter. She was so beautiful. Even red and wrinkled, he could tell she had her mother’s fine hands, delicate but strong. She had his square jawbone. He wondered whether she would be as stubborn as he was in his youth. But he was delaying.
He plunged her into the water and held her there, his own heart hammering in his chest like a wild beast desperate to be set free. He began counting. Ten. She flailed under the water, her tiny limbs no match for his strong calloused hands. Thirty. At sixty, he could let her up. And try to save her. Fifty. Relief and hope began to well in him.
And then a bright white light exploded from his daughter. He stumbled back, throwing an arm over his eyes. She illuminated the cabin, shining silver light into cobwebbed corners and dusty crevices.
After a few seconds, the light died and his daughter was herself again. Tiny, pink, floating on top of the water peacefully. He and Hanae locked eyes. She had turned over and was half sitting up on her cot. The look of helpless horror on her face was mirrored on his own.
“I knew she would be,” Hanae said softly. “A moonburner. And a strong one.”