Minutes after the photo was taken, Gary squeezed the life out of the bird and threw its body in the trash.
He was bored with animals. Cats, gophers, and whatever wildlife he could get his hands on no longer satisfied him. He stared out of the window, thinking of the children in his neighborhood; wondering at the logistics of pulling off such a crime.
The Lovely Bones, Gary recalled, depicted an exciting underground possibility. With sly purpose, he withdrew a piece of paper from the nearby printer, thumbed the lead of a pencil, and proceeded to draw up plans.
Holly stood on the bow. Was it the bow? Or the stern? Did ferries have those things, she wondered. She had purposely taken the last trip to Tangier Island to escape Roger, feeling simultaneously anxious and guilty. Their boys slept in the empty cabin, aware of the urgency and the reasons but after a long road trip, they could ask no more questions. Holly touched her black eye and imagined a life without fear or rebuke for her little family.
The dock approached but Holly froze; her father lay motionless on the ground. Beside him, Roger waited, gun in hand.
Lesley eyed the building while she polished the antiques. Its bleak façade hung like a gaping maw; rotted teeth below empty sockets, and its tongue rolled rock-strewn into the river.
Her gaze returned to inspect the wares on the windowsill; all polished and shiny, ready for another day of business. Lesley knew though, that by morning they would all be tarnished again.
That night, as every night, Hell’s presence rose through the devil’s portal, imparting its ancient malice into the water. Fetid fumes seeped up river banks, swarmed over trees and bled into buildings, coating everything in a dark patina.
Erica slung the beanbag over her back and declared that she was going to be a hobo and live on a train. It didn’t matter that the beanbag was as big as her, or that it was missing the stick, or that it really wasn’t a sack at all. However, it was purple with white spots and that was enough of a spark.
I stopped washing dishes and looked at her. All she needed was a pair of baggy trousers with old suspenders and a cloth cap, and I laughed; she had a vivid imagination.
Michelle had never liked Tears for Fears; what kind of a name was Roland Orzabal anyway? Here she was nearly three decades later in the music room at her parents’ home, how ironic that it was her responsibility to sort through the rubbish since, well….she dinged a cymbal with her fingernail and chortled.
Her father had belittled her when it became clear that she was not the least bit interested in music; her mother always kept a frigid distance. So Michelle became a lawyer and a very good one, who’d just sent her parents to jail for tax fraud.
At twelve I lived in a pointy-roofed home on the corner of Bearsdown Road and Coltsfield Close in Plymouth, England. It had a gigantic swath of grass bordered by a concrete wall that ran at least fifty feet, and was favored by local hoodlums who’d hide their cigarettes under the loose bricks.
During this particular year, my Dad was away at sea with the Navy. My Mum continued making wine in the fermenters under the stairs, and at dinner times we’d turn the telly around to watch American sitcoms Bewitched or Alice.
It was the year that I got my ears pierced. Four years before the age my parents had originally agreed upon but with the authoritarian figure absent, it was easy to wear away at my Mum’s resolve.
That was a turbulent year. Mistakes were made by both of us. The best parts of it belonged with our cat, Jenny Muffin, who would snuggle with me under the blankets at bedtime. She’d curl up against my stomach and we’d both fall asleep warm and cozy.