Aimee Parkison The Fire Escape

Like vultures, reporters swarmed, even though my child had been dead for years. Knitting at the causeway, I had withdrawn only to tend to memories, to heal. Tenderness was bread crumbs on the windowsill, where I fed sparrows and watched them feed while hiding my face behind curtains. Please do not come, I said as I saw fear glittering in the eyes of the curious stranger, another reporter who had dared to enter my screened porch without invitation. An eight-year-old girl survived. He showed me. I saw her in the photograph, restored. Kidnapped from her family at the age of three, my child was the body discovered in the remoteness of small ponds and lakes. It had started to ruin. Cadaver dogs were released into the woods. No explanation for what had happened. All these years, our house on that land, vacant. Then came autumn, the rusted fire escape marked by footprints, someone going in and out of the house in secret.

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