Child’s Play

By Emma Louise Gill

Wendy caught Jesse in the garden, snail in his mouth. Its shell splintered like soiled wrapping paper, gleaming wetness sliding forth when she pried his lips apart.

“It’s got to stop,” she told his mother. Last week it was a worm; on Monday a pile of tight-balled slaters. “We thought he’d choke.”

His mother nodded, eyes amused. “I’ll talk to him.”

Next Monday, Jesse stayed away from the garden. His red-nailed fingers dug scars into quieter children, his attack-jumps frightened even Wendy. His mother smiled tightly, leaned in close. “When he’s not a sparrow, he’s a raptor,” she said.

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Emma Louise Gill writes short fiction powered by coffee, sunshine, and very small children. When they allow it.

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