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Public Domain

“Ma,” the stitched together girl says. “Ma, it’s dead.”

Ma bends down and looks at the pigeon lying like a broken heart on the cobblestones.

“Ma.” The stitched together girl’s eyes are bright blue, ready to overflow.

“Hush now.” Ma gathers the pigeon up in her capable hands. “It’s still warm. Come on.” She takes the pigeon inside to her workshop, gathers wires and needles, and flicks the switch on the dynamo, setting it to humming and purring.

The girl places her hand on the battery, feeling it thrum like a pulse.

Ma slips a pin into the pigeon’s breast, and another deep into its neck, sliding between the tiny vertebrae.

The girl touches the back of her scalp. “Ma.”

“Yes.”

“Ma, will I die?”

“All things die.”

The girl looks down at the black lines of stitches running around her wrists. “I’m not all things.”

Ma stops. She gathers the girl into her arms. “You are all things to me.”

The girl inhales Ma’s scent of vanilla and formaldehyde. “I love you, Ma.”

“I love you too, baby.”

A tiny breeze from the open window rustles the pigeon’s blue grey feathers, setting the rainbow on its neck to dancing.

Ma turns a dial on the dynamo. Sparks spin along the needles, white power popping from the battery to the pigeon, and vanishing beneath its feathers. A smell of burning rises into the air. The girl holds her breath.

The pigeon blinks. Its bright orange eye twitches, meets the girl’s bright blue ones.

“It’s alive!” the girl cries.

Ma clasps the pigeon in one hand, and gently withdraws the pins as its head turns, its lungs expand, and its heart patters against her fingers. The girl reaches out a bone-white finger and, very lightly, strokes the pigeon’s breast. Her eyes are wide and excited.

Ma looks at her with her head on one side. The girl is too eager to notice the bittersweet nostalgia on her face.

“It’s so pretty,” the girl whispers. She looks up. “Is it going to fly away now?”

Ma nods, knowing the girl is already in love with the idea of the pigeon staying forever, knowing that longing which starts so easily and takes hold so quickly.

The girl sighs, and goes to the window. Ma follows her, and carefully opens her hands. The pigeon hops onto the sill on its gnarled coral feet, one eye to the sky, the other on the girl’s face. It shuffles its wings, and a tiny white sparks pops out of its feathers, making the three of them jump. The pigeon starts into the air, and the bright blue sky swallows it up; a tiny dark shape sucked into the crisp air and clean white clouds.

Ma puts her hand on the girl’s shoulder. “My baby,” she murmurs, and closes her eyes against the falling rays of golden sunlight.

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Alice Olivia Scarlett is a freelance editor. She lives in Thanet with the seagulls and parakeets.

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