Tiffany dangled the mouse by its tail. “Hello, Mousy, how are you today?” The mouse swung gently back and forth; its tiny black eyes dull, its lips snarled back to reveal pointy yellow teeth, its brown body stiff and haggard. “Well, maybe tomorrow you will feel better. Remember to stay away from the cat.” Tiffany laid the mouse back into the shoe box she’d filled with shredded tissues. She pulled out the baby bird. Covered in gray skin and black pin feathers, it smelled strongly of insecticide. When Tiffany had caught the baby bird, it’d been covered with tiny moving dots. Cooties. Afterwards, Tiffany had sprayed the bird until the dots had disappeared. “Hello, Birdy-Birdy, how are you today?” The bird laid motionless upon her hand; its claws curled up as though grasping a perch, its yellow beak shut, its eyes closed. “Taking another nap, I see. Maybe tomorrow you will feel like singing for me.” Tiffany returned the bird to the box then carefully fitted the lid atop it. The lid had holes punched into it so the animals would get fresh air. In another box, this one she had gotten at the supermarket, she peeked at the litter of kittens. They rested upon an old towel her mother had given her. Asleep, all the kittens laid in the exact same position that Tiffany had left them before she went to kindergarten. Being very gentle, Tiffany spread her doll’s blanket over them, she played a finger over her lips. ”Shhh...the kitties are sleeping.” Smiling, Tiffany looked around her room. In the corner by the window sat the box that her daddy had brought home from his office. It had a lid that fit on it exactly like the shoe box. She already knew what she would put in it, something that her mommy and daddy never let her play with, like they’d never let her play with Mousy and Birdy-Birdy and the litter of kittens. She’d have to make sure it stayed quiet. Too big to step on, maybe she could drop it like she’d dropped the kittens. Or maybe she could put a pillow over its head until it stopped crying. She should go check on it. Tiffany ran out of her room and down the hall. Maybe this time mommy and daddy wouldn’t be playing with it, maybe this time it’d be her turn to play, to play with the new baby.
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