by Aimee Laine
The knot hole in the fence offered a thin view of a tiny back yard.
A little girl with golden curls danced with a stuffed robin whose cotton oozed from broken threads. She wound her way between saplings while the breath of song escaped her lips.
“Sit here, Miss Birdy. I’ll be right back.” She dropped it onto her picnic blanket, skipped toward the house.
“Now, Margie, push me.” Sherry stood straight, jumped up but slid down the fence as if against ice. “The gems are in the bird. I’m sure of it.”
“You’ve been at this for months. It’s time to stop.”
“I’ll get it myself.” Stuck in the haze of challenge, Sherry tried the climb again but fell.
Margie hoisted her over with a sigh. “You should reconsider searching here,” she said without conviction.
Sherry grunted a curse and with a thud, landed on the other side. Margie watched through their peephole, launched herself over when Sherry tore the robin’s seam, created a cascade of fluff.
The little girl spun. “You broke Miss Birdy, mommy!” She fisted her hands, continued to scream, mouth wide, eyes shut.
Sherry waved her arms, a clear attempt to stop the onslaught of sound until she froze.
Margie stood at her friend’s side. “You remember your daughter, right Sherry?” In Margie’s palm, she held out the three jewels. “You asked me to find your treasures. I did. You only get one. Pick.”