She digs a hole to china in the sandbox two feet deep and names it victory. Hours of grained-soft child hands scooped and dug, carefully smoothing down the sides.
At night the janitor comes and fills it in, quietly. He is thinking about his divorce, his paycheck, his son's soccer game, he is tamping sand into the hole with his broad hands. He is not thinking about the small girl who will come outside tomorrow and cry at the flat plain where she, for one afternoon, excavated impossibility.
Bryan Jennings is sobbing outside of the girl's bathroom. She goes inside and washes her hands five times, soaping between the fingers, before she comes back outside to ask him what is wrong.
“Fuck off bitch,” he says.
“OK,” she says, and goes back into the restroom to dry her hands carefully.
Later, during music class, she will draw him a picture of a sun, fold it into an origami star, and then go home and tear it into 1,000 pieces. She cuts on her fan and throws the pieces to the ceiling, where they swirl outwards and rain down on her shoulders for the longest fifteen seconds of her life.
They die, suddenly. The medical examiners say they didn't feel a thing. She wanders home, kicking an acorn and thinking about how she doesn't feel a thing, either.
She lies placidly in his bed, listening to the gentle humming of the fan. The rhythmic pulsing should maybe comfort her, but it doesn't. He drums his fingertips against her hips.
“Are you OK?” he asks her. His hand speaks a foreign language to her ribs.
“Probably,” she says.