"Papa, you can't stay here." Grains of sand nestled beneath Renie's coarse garb, marking the distance of her trek. She pointed at the horizon darkening with evening except for the red veins flashing through the ash cloud hovering above Nyiragongo's volcanic flanks. "The diamonds are gone."
His voice husky. "My place here." He retreated into the doorway, his bent frame clearing the doorway as the dune spilled into the front room.
"Times change and you must move on." She waved at the other houses, woodgrains exposed beneath cracking paint. "Everyone has left this ghost town. Marrok and I have a spare room where you could stay."
"That dog. He took you."
"There was nothing left for me, except you. You mustn't blame him."
Renie stumbled in the house's darkness, sand covering the floor. A rolling smoothness marred by Papa's footprints. He sat crosslegged on a woven mat, sand spilling from the chimney. An orchid grew, its slender stem vertical, its flower drooping, blue with white veins.
"Unnatural. It shouldn't grow here. We can buy flowers to decorate the room we set aside for you."
"Shush." Papa caressed a petal. "See pattern. Same as brown-green swirl of your mama's eyes."
Renie collapsed, leaning against Papa, closing her eyes to feel the fibers of the blankets mama had woven to keep Renie warm at night. "You can't stay. Maybe, we could bring her."
Papa shook his head. "Promise to visit?"
Renie hugged him tightly. A tear trickling along her nose.