When he asks, it's as though the bedroom is a blank page. In the jungle damp sheets, we try to disentangle--return to our single selves. We grow shy, and he tucks an unruly hair strand behind my ear, which is all that is needed to clear my vision:
You are never so alive as you are when you are young and unsupervised. I was a ward of the neighborhood. You could find me outside, learning the fine art of the BMX bike from David, a teen who probably shouldn't have wanted to hang out with a little girl. Or I might be picking dandelions bouquets with Jody and selling them door to door to makes some quick candy money. Or maybe I was in Charlie's backyard, eating canned peaches on saltine crackers and pretending they were fancy sandwiches at an English tea.
I don't recall who I was with when the cemetery seemed like a good destination. A playground, really. I can only remember that the town was on edge that summer because women had gone missing. People were on the lookout for vans. Parents went on safety lesson rampages doling out stranger mistrust and curfews, which is probably exactly why we'd broken free and were exploring.
Where the cemetery butted up against saw mill and golf course, in some remote corner still free of marble grave markers, there was a knoll of grass and shade trees that seemed just right for resting after our child gang adventures. I don't remember who discovered the black garbage bag, and honestly, I'm not sure if I really looked inside or if I took someone else's account and made it mine. At that age, the blood one sees is contained to skinned knees and elbows or a steak your dad (if you have one) throws on the grill. This wasn't grocery store meat. There was too much of it. It was too messy and writhing with maggots. I don't think any of us were old enough to make excuses or meaning.
An adult would have a backlog of cruelty to draw from. In the file cabinet mind, they would pull the folder for poaching, reason that a hunter may have killed something out of season and dumped the innards where they wouldn't offend. An adult would know that sometimes household pets breed and are too many and too much to handle and so are dispensed with. This was no burlap bag of kittens thrown into a river or a box of puppies left roadside.
An adult might have thought to call the police. But we were children who squealed and dared each other to have a closer look. To touch 'it'. We were children who rode bikes with banana seats, tassles on the handlebars, playing cards tucked in the spokes. We could hear our mothers calling. I'd pretend to hear mine. Lunch was almost ready, and our hunger would erase what we had or had not found.