Stacy came through her front door and dropped her bag in its spot next to her sister’s.
Carol was laying out on the couch. She glanced over when she heard the door close.
“Sup,” she said casually.
“What are you doing, lazy ass?” Stacy quipped.
“Enjoying my day off like God intended,” Carol replied. “Lola’s out in the garden.”
“Thanks,” Stacy said. She moved to the back door, kicking off her heels and switching to her garden sneakers along the way.
Her little girl, Lola, all of four years old, was out in the postage-stamp-sized garden. She was patting down dirt with the children’s trowel that had come in her Easter basket.
“Whatcha planting?” Stacy asked.
“My garden,” Lola said casually. There was dirt dug into her fingernails, ground into the knees of her jeans, and even in her blond little curls. It made Stacy smile to see the kid a mess. It wasn’t a healthy childhood if you didn’t get covered head to toe in mud, she thought. And there had been enough around Lola that wasn’t healthy. First the divorce, then Carol’s miscarriage. It was good just to see Lola playing. Just being a normal, healthy, muddy kid.
Lola was digging another hole. She picked up something small and white, and dropped it in. For a moment Stacy thought it was a pebble until she plunked herself down and looked closer at it.
It was a tiny bird’s egg.
“Oh, Lola, where did you find that?” Stacy asked. She reached into the hole to retrieve the egg before Lola could bury it.
“It was in that bush over there,” Lola said, pointing to the overgrown hydrangea near the back fence.
“No honey, you can’t bury bird eggs. They have to stay with their mommy bird and grow up with her,” Stacy said. “Are these all eggs?”
“No,” Lola said. She looked up, confusion on her tiny face. “But that’s how you get birds.”
“No honey, their mommy sits on them until they hatch,” Stacy said. She started looking harder at the holes her daughter had dug. Out of one, she noticed a tuft of dark fur sticking out. She started brushing away the dirt until she saw more matted fur.
She pulled her hand away, horrified. “Is that an animal?”
“I wanted to grow more kittens,” Lola said.
“Oh, oh honey,” Stacy whispered. She got up fast and pulled Lola away from the mounds of dirt. There were so many.
“You can’t bury dead animals and get new ones,” Stacy explained.
“I know, Mommy,” Lola said. She gave her mother a look that encompassed all of the exasperation a small child could hold. “It only works if they’re alive.
“That’s how Aunt Carol told me to do it. She did it with the baby, and she’s going to grow a whole bunch of them. That’s what she told me when I saw her out here. Don’t you know anything about gardening, Mommy? How did you grow me?”