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Five

“Special. Special, come on. It’s time to get ready for school.”

Special opened her eyes. The first thing she saw was a cut below Ianchelle’s nose. What had Shawn done to her now?

“Come on, Special.”

Special stretched out her limbs, cracking her bones. She had almost forgotten about last night when it came back to her—

The play spot.

The barrel.

Ivory.

She needed to show her mama that Ivory was alive.

She looked near her pillow first. Nothing. She got on her hands and knees and started digging through her sheets, crawling through them like a rabbit in a hole.

Ianchelle was not in the mood for this kind of peculiar behavior. “Special! You better get dressed right now or else you’re about to be in a lot of trouble!”

Ianchelle yanked the covers from the bed. A wave of cold air hit Special.

“Let’s go!”

“But mama, I’m looking for Ivory. She came alive last night. She can walk around and everything!”

“Oh dear, you must have had a dream.”

“It wasn’t a dream. She really is alive!”

“Come on. Let’s get dressed. The bus will be on our road any minute.”

Ianchelle dug through a pile of clothes on the floor and picked out a pair of jeans and a long-sleeve t-shirt. She placed them on the bed in front of Special. Special was still looking for Ivory, checking every inch of her bed. She threw one of her pillows against the wall.

“Stop throwing things!” Ianchelle said.

“I can’t find Ivory.”

“We’ll look for her after school.”

“No. I need to check on her right now. I need you to see.”

“You’re making your mama very upset. It’s time to get ready.”

“She was right here, she—”

It was like the air had been stolen from her lungs. There, between the headboard and the mattress, were small pieces of paper, pink pieces that could have only come from one thing: Ivory.

She had disintegrated.

“Oh no! She’s dead!”

Special started picking up the broken pieces of Ivory. Each one seemed to be the same size. They looked cut rather than torn, almost as if someone had sat there all night and done the deed themselves. She held Ivory’s remains and began to cry.

“Oh, baby.” Ianchelle sat beside her. “I’m so sorry about Ivory. Some things in the world just don’t last very long.”

“But she was alive!”

“Maybe you can talk to Mrs. Woodfork today and see if she’ll let you redo the project.”

“You don’t understand. It won’t be the same.”

“I know it won’t, but maybe you can make something new, something different.”

Special hugged Ianchelle and cried harder. How had Ivory come apart like that? Why was every piece of her the same size? Had she really been alive, or was it all a dream? Special pondered the why’s, holding on to her mama because the warmth always helped clear her head.

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