Consolation Gifts
by Rich Ives

__A miniature glass mouse, for example. On a glass shelf in a cottage in the forest. Behind the echo of the woodcutter's axe.

__Or his wife's greeting welcoming him home, high-pitched and delicate, a porcelain cage in which to keep the end of his day.

__Or the bright thrill of a covey of quail rising startled from the tall grass, floating down the hillside below the lighthouse where the murder occurred.

__The air inside the hidden chamber growing damp and close as if in the ruins of a grand cathedral we had stepped before the door to an underground cavern. (Constance was no longer the same person after losing the child.) Later that same day, a policeman chasing a piglet down the sidewalk and under a cart of candied apples.

__Each new night’s crimes uncertain, dissimilar, every alibi alive with its own suspicions.

__Teeth in the water-glass on the nightstand.

__The bed empty.

__Or the moon's footprints.

__Or a row of small mammal skulls lined up neatly on a tenderness of black velvet by the neighbor’s quietly drowning son.

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