The china girl

The china girl was thumb-wide and tall as a plum, or something similarly holdable. She sat in Gethin’s palm and winked at him.

Gethin had bought her for his niece, who was five and just out of hospital, and in a small way for his sister, because his niece needed constant distraction. But when he had tried to lie the china girl in tissue, she had thrashed wildly with her head and flailed with her limbs and torn the wrapping to violet shreds with her teeth.

Gethin, who had the loveliest slate floors, closed his eyes tight and dropped her.

The box

There had been wars over it, nations sent to the sword for an unknowable truth.

But as much as they diverged, which was a great deal, all agreed in one respect: it could never be opened.

A small child with big blue eyes had snatched it once and skipped from its room, teasing, testing. She was shot and killed before she crossed the marble atrium. Afterwards, it was locked away five times over. But the debate around it could not be quieted.

Only the box knew what was inside it, if it knew at all, which was another argument entirely.