"Rachel, get your shoes back on, now!" yelled the tall, ragged looking father. He stood over the child as she dragged herself across the pitted vinyl flooring. Even seated it was easy to establish that the child was not put together right. Her hips were wrong and one shoulder aspired to her ear as if she were perpetually shrugging. The man's suit of clothes were pleasantly matched but appeared disheveled and worn. However upon closer inspection it was he that was disheveled and worn. The clothing reflected the man.
"Come on Rachel, don't worry about tying "em, I'll do it in the car," the man said, lifting the child to her feet and setting her gently in a brightly painted plywood box with old lawnmower wheels on either side. He turned and walked a few steps toward the kitchen and grabbed a plastic trash bag that appeared to be holding books. Tossing the trash bag over his shoulder he stooped and picked up a length of nylon rope attached to the child's vehicle and pulled her out to the waiting pick-up truck.
"I wanna sit in the back with Mamma", said the child as they approached the rumbling pick-up. "No, no Rach, go on and sit inside with Daddy", said the woman softly, lying on an obviously dense and comfortable pallet made up in the truck bed of numerous brightly colored and decorated quilts and various sizes and types of pillows. The woman smiled faintly as the man lifted the child into the truck cab and she pressed her face to the back window and said, "Hi Momma, we're going to a party."
...The assembled women all were seated around her on the pine bough and fresh hay littered ground. They had placed the books, mementos and photographs, close by, on bales of hay and benches. Her husband held the child in his lap, seated cross-legged at her side. Rachel held her Momma's small thin hand, tracing the faint blue veins under the vellum like skin. Three older men, sitting in tattered synthetic webbing lawn chairs with slabs of yellow pine as seats, were playing and sweetly singing her favorite song, "Ripple", an old Grateful Dead tune she had learned from her father as a child. One of the men was playing her cherished mandolin.
They had said that it would be fifteen to twenty years before the major effects of radiation exposure would show up -- it had only been twelve. She had been warned about having a child, all women had. She never regretted her decision, especially now in her last moments. Was it selfish and wrong -- will she be judged for it? She found some comfort in knowing that she may soon find out..."
From, "Oh Japan, How Could the Mauled have Embraced the Beast!" by Franklin Cincinnatus