Her body was face up in the woods behind the elementary school when we found her, buried beneath a drift of bright September leaves.
“Who do you think she was?” Greg asked.
I said, how should I know? Somebody. Dead, that was for sure. Her expression was alien in its placid beauty. She was small, small of face, small of bone. Greg laid down next to her and he came up to her chest, and he hadn’t had his growth yet.
“Think she was killed?”
Probably, I said. Probably she was knifed walking home through the woods, or strangled, or just scared to death. No way of knowing. We couldn’t make ourselves brush the leaves off of her to check.
It was dark when we finished burying her, piling dirt on her and trampling it down until even the most determined dog wasn’t going to get down to her. Somehow it was important that she not get eaten.
I slipped inside and into the bathroom without anyone seeing me. No one would have cared that I was late, but the mud that caked my hands would have raised a few eyebrows. It took half a bottle of soap to get down to the skin.
The first three nails of my right hand had ripped clean off during the afternoon.