Walking. Mid-winter snow laces the sidewalks and roads, and ice sprawls out over the grass. There is one bird high in a tree. She begins to warble out a tune, the only one for miles. The music comes to an abrupt stop. Walking under the tree. She hears the footsteps. She is scared away. The sudden quiet overwhelms, the lashing wind being the only company to give. Nearing the forest, seeing a line of smoke emerging from the pines, the source being about a mile out ahead. Shivering in the cold. Must buy a new winter jacket. Needing to save up money. Thinking that putting in more hours at the factory might be the safest way.

Safest. That would be the safest way. Safe takes too long. Safe is now not an option. Reaching right hand into pocket, eye still glaring towards the smoke. Nothing is in the right pocket. Fumbling through left pocket. Feeling it in palm. Pulling it out, and breaking gaze from smoke. A knife in a leather case. Initials carved into knifes handle. Removes knife from case. Needs to clean knife. Brushing off knife with palm. The dried blood is crumbling off. Examining beautiful knife. So beautiful. Gripping handle of knife in hand. Time to find someone who wants to play.

Creeping into forest. Keeping an eye on surroundings. Time is slowing down. Seeing snow falling slowly. Hearing a noise. Walking on balls of feet; keeping quiet. Realizing noise is singing. Child’s singing. Quietly running towards voice. Nearing the child. Seeing the child. Little girl; swinging arms, looking in the sky. Girl is wearing red dress.

Big white pocket in front, filled with dirt. Pretty child. Pretty voice. Thinking that beauty like that should not exist. Steps on twig. Twig cracks loud. Singing stops. Girl is looking this way. She speaks. She spoke a question. Standing still. Not moving. So cold. Wind is ripping through trees. Girl asks question again. Girl sounds frightened. Looks frightened. Thinking about jumping out of trees. No. Should play with little girl first. Yes. Will play. Little girl will play along.

Seeing twig. Stepping on the twig hard. Making sounds like a cat. Little girl smiles big. She will come to me. She makes an exclamation. Girl is skipping towards this area. Moving away, quietly. Left present for little girl. Left the cat. The dead cat. Gave her food. The dead cat. Watching from behind now. Girl reaches cat. Child makes horrible noise. Horribly, wonderful noise. She is screaming. She liked the gift. Child is crying. No. she needs to scream. She should not cry.

Coming out from bushes. Child sees. Child screams. Yes. Yes; screaming. Girl needs to scream louder. Grab girls arm. Still holding knife in other hand. Girl is screaming loud. Girl is pulling. Girl wants to leave. The game isn’t over. Child screaming stops. Child is sobbing. No. child should not sob. Child should scream. Grab child behind head. Grab her curly head. Girl is screaming. Not screaming loud enough. Girl doesn’t know how to play this game. She will play this game. Will make her play. She will play.

Move knife to her face. Child is pulling away. Pushing child against tree. Child won’t stay still. Child needs to stay still. Put knife against child’s cheek. Push a little. Red appears. Red. It matches her dress. It is beautiful. Pushing more. More red. Moving knife. Moving knife around red lips. Child is screaming. Not loud enough. Child is quiet. Childs eyes are closed.

Finishes circle around mouth. Lips falling off of child’s face. Lips are red. Lips make the snow red. Snow is turning red. Childs mouth is now opened wide. Child’s mouth looks like it is screaming. An open circle of a mouth. Lots of red. It matches her dress. Child is now truly beautiful. Child knows how to play the game. The white pocket is red. Red. Red, red, red. The child is not moving. But now she is beautiful. She has played the game, and won the reward. The child looks like a mirror. Looking at the child. The child is a small mirror. A mirror that has learned how to play.

Must get new jacket. This jacket is too old. Will get jacket the unsafe way. The unsafe way is more fun. Fun. Fun and games.