"Mathew, do you think they're telling us the truth?" The eleven-year-old boy rolled over in the dust, looking over at the girl that always asked questions. His eyes met hers and for a moment she was lost. This boy was her life. This boy was everything - the only person she could talk to.
"About what?" he asked, rubbing dust off his nose. "They're always lying to us. That's what adults do."
Elena wasn't happy about this. She wanted a proper answer. Of course, Mathew was her friend, and she told him everything and trusted him with her life, but she did wish that occasionally he would be serious. Didn't he understand that she asked questions for a reason? "About everything. About the stars and the music. Why it's not there any more."
"I don't think there was ever such thing as music," he replied, turning the light down so that it was just a dim glow. The electric lights were - of course - their only illumination. There was no sunlight in this underground world. "How could something like that exist?"
"They said you only had to open your mouth for music to come out." Experimentally, the little girl tried. She didn't know how to sing. Nobody had ever shown her, because it was one of the things they had forgotten. Not surprisingly, nothing happened.
"I don't hear anything," replied Mathew, and tried himself. Nothing. "I can talk with my mouth and eat with my mouth and drink and breathe. To be able to make music would be too much, don't you think?"
"You wouldn't do it at the same time," she scoffed, trying not to show her disappointment. It sounded so magical. To lose another hope was like losing her favourite teddy all over again.
"I don't do those at the same time," retorted Mathew. "I think you're crazy, Elena. Always asking questions, even when you shouldn't. Your mama told me you've been doing that for years. Ever since you could talk. It's not healthy."
"Well, your mama told me that you were always making mischief from the day you could walk," she told him, laughing. She could never stay angry at Mathew for long. "She also told me that sometimes she despaired of what she could do with you, you're such a trouble-maker."
"I just get into scrapes," said Mathew, completely serious. Something about his expression made Elena stop laughing. "But that's not dangerous. Asking questions is."
"So they say, so they say." Elena got up and walked away from him. "But I don't want to talk about this any more. Do we have to stay in here all day? It's boring." He gave in and they went out into the tunnels, playing together as they had done for years. But she couldn't throw off the feeling that he was right.
"Mama," she asked, later in the day. "Is it true that asking questions is illegal?"
"It's not illegal," said her mother, putting down the dough she was kneading. "But it's not advisable. You should know by now that it's not what you're supposed to do, chicken." Sometimes she loved her daughter very much.
Elena frowned and poked her little finger into the dough. She always did that, and then the bread came out all lumpy and she complained, but she'd still poke the next lot of dough, and the next after that. "I don't know why. If they don't want us to ask they should make it illegal and then people would know what to do."
"Just don't say anything," said her mother. "Pretend it is illegal." She muttered something under her breath. Her daughter didn't quite catch the words, but it sounded like she'd said, "And you'd be better off if it was, for an arrest is nothing compared to what they'll do."