"How old are you?" The little girl whispered at the darkness.
"You swallow dust that was my bones with every breath. I planted the trees that made the acorns that birthed the trees that were cut down to build this house. Old."
"But you're not real anymore."
"Real enough." From the darkness sounded a knock, knock, against the hardwood floor.
"But are you strong enough?" She glanced nervously at the door; her father would be home presently, smelling of smoke and liquor.
"I don't have to be strong. Smart is better than strong. And old is smart."
"I hope so."