When Rokia opens the door to the apartment, the power's out. Again. Which means what's-his-name lost the electric bill, probably, and Rokia's going to have to go to the Justice Building tomorrow and play "pitiful child" to get them to issue a new one and let her pay it without too much trouble.
She just hopes it's someone different working than it was last time she had to do this.
But she can’t do that until tomorrow, anyway, and it’s dark already, and Allie’s holding tight to her hand and sniffling, trying not to cry. Rokia shifts Kadi on her hip, peers into the darkness and follows the shadow of the wall to their room.
Allie doesn’t want to let go of Rokia’s hand. “Come on, baby,” Rokia says, trying to keep the irritation out of her voice. “I just have to unlock the door, there’s candles inside.”
Allie whimpers a little but lets go, and Rokia fumbles in her pocket for the key, unlocks the door and pushes it open. There on the battered dresser are the matches, the box of candles. But she needs both hands, and Kadi’s asleep against her shoulder, and if she wakes up she’ll cry, and then Allie will whine and Rokia might just scream, because she’s so damn tired.
She grabs the matches and candles in one hand and crosses to the girls’ mattress. Allie’s still whimpering by the door, frozen in place. Rokia ignores her for now, sits carefully, leaning against the wall so she can let Kadi’s own weight hold her against Rokia’s chest long enough for Rokia to get a match lit, hold it to the candle wick.
And then finally—finally—the flame takes hold and the shadows dance around the room and Allie races towards them, curls in on Rokia’s right side. Rokia holds Kadi, careful, careful, leans forward to drip wax onto the floor and stands the candle upright.
Takes a deep breath, finally, leans back again, holding her sisters, and tries not to fall asleep with the candle still burning.