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later with cups of hot cocoa. When she saw them looking at the snow, she smiled sympathetically. “The snow plows came through this morning. Get ready for school, kidlets.” She handed them the warm mugs. They drank their hot chocolate, and when they were finished, their mother handed them hats and coats and scarves and mittens and boots and snow pants. When they were suitably dressed for the icy weather, the children left the house early and walked down to the little lake that spilled into their backyard. Ricky thought it looked like a melting root-beer slush poured into a bowl: the murky, brown water covered the mud and reeds of the area; flakes of ice floated on the surface. Rachel watched from the shore, water slowly seeping through her shoes, as Ricky filled a fishing bucket with water from the lake. He took his gloves off and reached into the mermaid’s cage, feeling the slimy, squirmy body wiggle in his hands. As he pulled the beetle-eyed creature out of the water, it gargled a red note, high and uncomfortable. Ricky set it in the fishing bucket, and then he and Rachel hauled the bucket into the garage. “It’ll be safe in here.” Ricky put the bucket next to the water-heater. “It’ll keep it warm.” “But not too warm, right?” Rachel stood next to the bucket and tried to feel the air. “It’ll be fine. Come on, we’re gonna miss the bus.” The mermaid bounced up and down in the water, and its red gargle tugged at their ears. After school, Ricky got on the bus to go home and put his backpack on the seat to save it for his sister. When she came on the bus with the lines of third-graders, she looked tired, pale; her eyes were searching around as if she didn’t know where she was. Ricky moved his backpack and let her sit down next to him. “Are you okay?” She nodded, but before the bus even started to move, she was asleep on his shoulder. When the bus stopped at their house, Ricky woke his sister up, and they walked back down the long driveway. Rachel stopped to cough, a thick, phlegm-filled thing. When they got to the door, Rachel took off her coat and snow-pants and ran to her mother, hugging the woman around the knees. Mom looked down at her. “What’s wrong, sweetie? You have a bad day at school?” Rachel just hugged her mother. Mom knelt down and picked up the little girl. “What’s wrong?” Her hand pressed against the girl’s pale face; Mom frowned. “You might have a little fever, Honey. Go put on your pajamas; Ricky will put in a movie for you.” Ricky walked down stairs and looked through the movies lined up on the floor. He pulled out Snow White; he thought Rachel would like it. He waited for the tape to rewind and then pressed play. Rachel came down during the previews and sat down on the couch. She usually sang along with the songs, but she was asleep by the time before she even got to see a wicked queen. Ricky went into the garage and looked at the mermaid. It burped and gargled and belched in ever redder shades between eating the slices of salami that Ricky threw into the water. “Rachel isn’t acting normal. She’s sleeping through her favorite movie. She didn’t even come check on you.” The mermaid blinked its beetle eyes. Its thin skin didn’t blot out the black eyes completely, and Ricky got the feeling that it could see him through its eyelids. Ricky threw the rest of the salami into the bucket, and then walked back to his sister. Mom

Profile for Brushfire Literature & Arts

Edition 63 Volume 1  

Fall 2010. Brushfire is UNR's oldest literature & arts journal. Brushfire publishes biannually, check out our website for more info! unrbrus...

Edition 63 Volume 1  

Fall 2010. Brushfire is UNR's oldest literature & arts journal. Brushfire publishes biannually, check out our website for more info! unrbrus...

Profile for brushfire
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