Winter wind lashed her skinny legs and soil caked black and ugly beneath her nails as she dug the grave.
The grave for her doll.
She chose a spot at the edge of her dad’s vegie garden, where the weeds now grew amid broccoli gone to seed and unwieldy, fruitless strawberry runners.
Her thin dress held little shelter from the elements as the sky above darkened and wind wrenched leaves from the trees.
Tangles of hair stuck wet to her cheek in the spitting rain, but still she dug.
The doll’s empty sockets admonished the girl, so small and unnoticed in the backyard as her dad abused the umpire in front of the box and her mother stewed over another pot of tea.
The doll was dead. That much was clear. Her time was finished and now she would be interred.
There was mud on Phoebe’s knees and the rat’s ends of hair plastered to cheeks.
The hole was deep enough, the doll was laid inside and dirt emptied on to her face until it could no longer be seen beneath the damp soil that squirmed and festered with worms and centipedes and the fetid remains of a compost heap.
Among this stench and rot the doll lay, soundless and silenced.
She made no protest. She swallowed her fate and gave herself up to this death. This ending of things.
Phoebe stamped on the disturbed soil. She picked nasturiums and daisies and tossed them carelessly on top.
Clouds swirled past and wind shifted the landscape about her, but Phoebe was still, and the doll was dead.