Meg’s parents despaired at their daughter’s despair.
Even Meg’s father Arthur, who had liked dogs more than birds until meeting Princess, could not hold back tears.
Pegeen and Arthur discussed what to do with the little bird’s mortal remains, and they tried very hard to include Meg in the conversation, but their daughter would say not a word.
So they came up with a plan.
They would wrap Princess in a soft silk scarf, tuck her feathery body into the carved wood Moroccan magic box that Meg had given to her father for his birthday – a box that, once closed, could only be reopened by one who knew the secret – and after work, the whole family would drive north to the mountains, find a perfect spot in a sunny glade, and bury Princess there.
“Is that all right with you?” Pegeen asked her daughter.
Meg did not react.
Her mother shook her head sadly, wrapped the tiny bird in the beautiful silk shroud, and handed it to Arthur, who gently tucked the bird into the Moroccan magic box, shut the lid, locked the box, and put it on the mantelpiece over the fireplace to wait there until later in the day, when they would leave the city to find a suitable burial ground.
Meg’s parents went to work.
Meg accompanied them out of the building and pretended to go to school.
But she did not go to school.
Instead, she returned to the apartment.
She walked to a closet off the kitchen where her mother kept the tools for her window box planters, and she removed a sturdy metal garden trowel. Meg walked to the living room, took the Moroccan magic box off the mantelpiece, and put it, along with the trowel, into the ornamental white birdcage that she had used so often to carry Princess to the park.
Meg locked the apartment door behind her.
She walked down the stairs.
Copyright © 2017, Shelly Reuben
Shelly Reuben’s novels have been nominated for Edgar, Prometheus, and Falcon awards. For more about her books, visit www.shellyreuben.com.