Prose: Jaclyn Watterson
Charred and dead, charred and dead. The children hold hands and dance in a ring, singing. The cat in the middle of their circle is charred and dead, and the children are witches. Charred and dead.
Rosalie, in her pink pinafore, laughs round with the rest of them, for she knows the story of the plague. With a pocket full of buttercups, she sings, Charred and dead, charred and dead, and thinks of her mother, at home sucking on a bottle.
The children grip each other’s hands tightly and press closer to the cat. Charred and dead, charred and dead.
Rosalie, in her bare feet, grins the hardest, for the next game is hers. They will chase each other through the trees, brandishing ribbons and belts and swigging clear liquid from bottles that never grow dust. Maybe today will be the day Rosalie cracks a bottle on someone’s head.