Mother took them down to Earth one by one and one by one they leafed through time and place, finding the little stories that had been their favourites. ‘She’ found the girl sitting on her knees and descended with shimmering eyes to her ear. The twins found London, bustling as ever, and waited for Goat to join them, waving their hands merrily at the passersby delighted as they scowled and muttered in response, and especially happy with those who made returning gestures with their own fingers.
Eventually the bird boy was the only one left.
“Where would you wish to go?” mother asked.
“Everywhere,” he said thoughtfully.
“You are everywhere,” Mother replied wondering what it was about those eyes with their glint that worried her so. Worry was not something she cared to do much of. “You wished to live. It is finite and cramped. An ill fitting cage where your only mercy is that it passes quickly.”
A page of time fluttered in the boy’s whimsy. “Sometimes looking in their eyes it seems too long. Do you think maybe the girl didn’t run because she didn’t want to?”
“I don’t think. The girl didn’t run because she didn’t run. Neither whispering nor thinking will change what is.”
‘She’ was stamping up and down the hillside, her green hair too bright against the dull grass. The boy with the gun in his hand was moving towards her, the girl no longer on her knees but laid back against the sloping ground, eyes staring up unseeing at mother and the bird boy watching. ‘She’ was far too engrossed in her stamping feet and the blades of grass tickling her arch and flattening beneath the heels, to pay any mind to anything else; besides the boy with the gun had never interested her. The first bullet struck her in the stomach and carried her whole body down to the ground. Her heels grooved little brown runs in the grass, the blades leaving a faint criss-crossing pattern on the nub of her thumbs, as her hands struggled to push her back up. The shadow of the boy, as he came to stand over her, turned the blood seeping through her jumper black. She looked up at him in surprise just as the second bullet hit her in the centre of her wrinkling forehead.
“What happened?” ‘She’ asked as she found herself back beside mother and the bird boy. Her shimmering eyes spilled over. “I didn’t like it.”
“You died,” mother replied.
“You became a part of history,” the bird boy said looking down at a pale moon upon the hillside surrounded by green waves, brow forever wrinkled in surprise.
“There are certain rules. If you die you leave your body. It rots and returns to the earth.”
“Why?” ‘She’ asked surprised.
Mother’s sigh was so deep that it created an eternal wind in a distant and misty part of the cosmos, “It doesn’t matter why. It’s what is and you can’t change that.”
“You’ve seen death,” the boy reminded her. “You’ve watched it more than anything else.”
‘She’ looked down at the hillside. “So I can go back to life too?”
The distant and misty part of the cosmos grew cold. They really didn’t understand at all, Mother thought. Even she, with her most rudimentary and disinterested knowledge, knew that the death playing on repeat below them, wasn’t life.