Girl was sitting in a sandbox that was in the small playground at the end of her street. Her brother had found a toy bucket and was filling it with sand. Her father had brought her once to this playground, and lifted her to drink from its single drinking fountain. She had not been able to lift her brother as well but they had both managed to drink some water. Girl glanced over her shoulder again unhappily.
The playground was at the edge of a crossroads, and her street continued on into a strange place. It was a grassless place, as if someone had tried to carve the earth flat and then changed his or her mind and tried to build hills. Girl thought that it would be a very brave thing for anyone to venture into such a place, and a great task to cross it. She hesitated.
“Do you want to go home?” she asked her brother.
“No, not yet,” he said, for he had unearthed a little shovel as well. He began using the shovel to fill the bucket with sand.
Girl trembled. Then she untied the ribbon from her wrist, and brought the spool of ribbon from her pocket. She tied the length still attached to her brother’s wrist to the end of the spool, and she tested the knot. Her brother looked at her, curious.
“I’m going to go look at something over there, okay?” said Girl. “I’ll be back. If you need anything, if you need me, just pull on the ribbon. Pull on it. Okay?”
“Okay,” said her brother.
“Oh, and you can turn that off, to save the battery,” said Girl, spotting the faintest beam from the flashlight at his side.
“I like it. It’s for monsters,” answered her brother, upending his bright little bucket deftly, and Girl frowned. She could not see what he was making.
“Build a big sandcastle. Big enough to live in,” she encouraged at last, and then she got up. She crossed the street, letting the red ribbon spool out behind her, and she entered the barren place, fiercely.