They gaze down at the brittle, shattered form, arranged like a circumpunct in the centre of their loose circle. One of the girls begins to cry, a soft, pulsing sound that is quickly torn to shreds by the wind.

“That was stupid,” one of the boys says. He’s looking at Jimmy.

Jimmy shrugs, spits a hunk of phlegm onto the ground near the cracked, gossamer wings of the thing. “Shoulda kept out my face.” He sniffs, his nose compresses above chubby, sardonic lips. He won’t meet their gazes.

“You shouldn’t have killed it!” the girl says, still crying. Her blue uniform cuts a neat strip out of the hurrying sky. Her cheeks vibrate with grief. “You’re horrible!”

Jimmy says nothing.

Another of the boys crouches beside the stricken shape. Placing a hand on the cool asphalt he closes his eyes for a moment, like a hunter divining the trail, then he says, “We should tell Miss Tamplin.”

“She’ll have a heart-attack,” says one of the older boys. “We should get rid of it.”

“We should take a selfie with it!” says another.

“No, we shan’t,” says the girl, with sudden calmness, demanding of their attention. “We’ll bury her.”

For a few seconds no-one says anything. They all stare down at the tiny woman, her arms and legs outstretched, her transparent wings bent like broken masts, the dark-red rosette still expanding behind a tuft of golden hair. A sketch of a thing, a tiny, newly-discovered fossil. Then the wind lifts one of the wings free and carries it away and the girl begins to cry again.

 

END

 

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