Summer

by Talia Hale

1. He places the egg he’s found into her tiny hands, where it sits round and plump and blue like an opal. She is staring in awe, mouth agape.

2. “Be careful,” he tells her. “Be gentle. Let’s take it home.” His voice is hushed, as if a single overbearing syllable would crack it. They’ve set out a blue sliding-tarp on the lawn today to escape the heat, and even the sound of the garden hose sputtering over it seems too noisy.

3. She nods dutifully as she turns back towards the house. The rhinestones on her pink one-piece bathing suit glitter in the late-afternoon sun.

4. She sets off across the yard, little legs carrying her awkwardly over mowed grass and dandelions. She carries the little blue egg in front of her like an offering as she leaps over the tarp and its rushing water.

5. Clumsy child hands, in their eagerness to do good, grip too carefully. The thin shell shatters soundlessly in her palms as her feet hit the ground. Regret washes over her like a heavy wave as she realizes what has happened.

6. The thick fluid, yellower than the sun above, drips between her stubby fingers. It splatters onto the bright neon blue of the tarp, showering it with tiny stars before the water sweeps them away to nothing.

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