Mom rose from the table. “We should pack.”
The conversation had been so confusing, Miranda still hadn’t said she wasn’t leaving Cindy. “Mom–“
Mom sighed and took the flashlight. “Miranda, I know. I know you care about Cindy and I know this isn’t fair, but our only chance is to get you to a more stable place.” She flashed the light on the ceiling, the walls. Anywhere but at Miranda. “We have to start over.”
A fire burned in Miranda’s chest. She wanted to grab Mom’s face and make Mom look her in eyes. “This isn’t working. We’re going to do this to another town? And another?”
In the failing light, Miranda could almost see Dad’s face instead of Mom’s. “We’ll just keep moving.”
Miranda shook her head. “We can’t do that forever. If the mad god is talking to us, can’t you program it more?”
The flashlight hit the floor. Wild light flashed around while it rolled. Mom’s horrified face flashed in and out. “What?”
The light made spots on Miranda’s vision. She thought Mom knew. “It sent me notes.” She waved her hands. “A big cloud of papers. It’s been writing on the side of the water tower.”
The light stopped moving and Mom’s face was light from beneath. Her face looked like a skull. “It’s closer to awake than I thought!”
Miranda’s head hurt again. She crouched down and grabbed the flashlight. “Have you looked outside? This morning there weren’t any sidewalks.”
When she brought the light back up, Mom looked like a child, like she didn’t even register Miranda was there. “Where can we go? What Can we do?”
What had changed? Miranda screamed, “Mom! What aren’t telling me?”
Mom’s eyes cleared. For a second Miranda thought she might stall or change the subject again.
But instead she let out a huge sigh. “Arnold, my old husband. He’s not your father.”
Neither of them said anything. There was something obvious there in the words and Miranda didn’t want to see it.
She motioned to across the street. “I’m like Cindy? Do I have five fathers?” She almost corrected herself. Three now.
Mom looked out into the yard. The sun was just starting to make the horizon burn. She took the flashlight from Miranda and clicked it off. “No. You have one mother, me.”
She wiped her face and looked Miranda in the eye. “And one father, the mad god.”