They carried the baby bird wrapped in a yellow flowered handkerchief. Its eyes bulged behind their closed lids and the prickly down barely covered the stubs of wings. The wrinkly peach flesh was damp with perspiration and plant juice. It choked and twitched feebly, beak broken open. “We’re going to operate now,” said the little girl in the red corduroy dress. Her little black shoes were scuffed and muddy and her little white tights had been ripped by the holly bush. There were no lights in the attic but the mother had given them three candles with the stipulation that Make Believe could knock the candles over and burn the house down.
The two girls scooted past boxes and trash bags filled with grown up things and tiny baby things from times they could not remember. They were like bright fishes, easily distracted by strange lights and strange noises. They crawled on three child’s paws: two dirty knees a piece, on dirty hand a piece, tipped with broken and chewed nails.
“On the operating table,” said the little girl in the red dress. She snatched the handkerchief from the other girl and slammed it down on one of the boxes. “Scalpel!” she cried.
The other girl picked up the handkerchief and lifted it to her nose. There was something there that reminded her of earthworms and pill bugs, like the scolding she received when she stayed out in the sandbox past lunchtime. She reached into the pocked of her blue shorts and held out a sprig of holly.