There is a weathered crow carcass crushed on a rusty storm drain. Its belly is ripped open, exposing its skeleton. Its wings bend in different directions like broken crayons, held together by their paper wrappers.
Samantha, thirteen years old, kneels down beside the bird, staring at its thin, withered legs, running parallel to its disheveled tail.
“Do you remember when we had to put Joey down last year?” she asks her younger sister, Erica.
“Yeah, I couldn’t go in the room. It was too sad,” Erica remembers.
“It wasn’t that bad. It was like Joey was there, sick, and then they gave him the needle and he wasn’t Joey anymore.”
Erica winces as Samantha calmly reaches out and pets a clump of feathers on the bird’s awkwardly angled head.
“You know what we should do?” Samantha points towards the belly of the bird. Erica tilts her head to look, but hesitates to get any closer.
“You should probably leave that alone.” Erica checks the quiet suburban street for traffic.
“We should break the wishbone,” Samantha suggests as she touches the defenseless bird.
“No, we shouldn’t. Don’t touch it.” Goosebumps sprout on Erica’s arms as she watches. “If anything, we should bury it.”
“Shouldn’t we get to have the luck that it’s left behind?” Samantha asks, carefully stroking the mangled feathers.
Erica knows that her sister will do whatever she wants.
“Erica, it doesn’t feel anything. It’s empty.”
No matter where Erica looks she can feel the crow’s little eyes pleading with her. Samantha carefully pulls the remaining feathers away from the skeleton, its innards previously expunged by an eager scavenger. She shuts one eye and squints with the other, digging through the mess. Erica pretends to watch for traffic, sweat forming on the back of her neck.
“There it is,” Samantha declares, gripping the “V” of the bone and pulling. A crude “crack” ascends from the bird’s disfigured frame. Samantha swiftly stands up; fingers stained a dirty grey, a small bone in her hand. Erica turns back, her stomach twisting in her torso at the sight of the bone.
Samantha motions for Erica to grip the other side of the bone. Erica reaches out with a wavering hand and pinches it between her finger and thumb. The bone was smaller and rougher than she thought it would be.
Samantha eagerly jerks on the bone, while Erica, eyes closed, stays static. A sharp snap rings out around them.
“Dammit,” Samantha scoffs, holding up the smaller bone. She kicks at the carcass, slamming it against the street curb, scattering mucky feathers and splintered bones, staining her shoe charcoal.
Erica slowly opens her eyes and looks at her piece. The broken bone feels even smaller now, delicate.
“Hey, we should get Slurpees,” Samantha suggests, already crossing the street to the sidewalk, wiping her shoe on a patch of grass.
Erica kneels down beside the bird. Its small black eyes somehow sadder than before. Carefully, she places the bigger bone on top of its chest.
“I’m sorry,” she whispers.