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Brian G. Ross is thirty-two and lives in Scotland. He has over seventy publications to his name -- from humor (Defenestration) to horror (Shadowed Realms), mystery (Futures Mystery Anthology Magazine) to mainstream (Southern Ocean Review). He appears in the first three volumes of paperback horror anthology, Read By Dawn, available from Bloody Books, and is currently at work on his first novel. He is married, both to his wife and his words, and runs a blog of his literary wanderings at briangrantross.blogspot.com.

brian g. ross

Birth of the Animal

The girl with the pink ribbons in her hair was just about the cutest thing I had ever seen. From my van across the street, I watched her jump rope. Her blonde bangs bounced as she sang. She had beautiful hair. It probably smelled like cinnamon or rose petals.

Cinderella dressed in yellow
Went downstairs to kiss her fellow
How many kisses did she give?
One, two, three, four, five...

I lost count after that, but she was so good, she was soon into double figures. There would be many kisses coming her way, I could promise her, and whatever else her little heart desired.

Her breath grew ragged as she skipped, but she didn稚 care, because she was nine years old and the world had yet to sharpen its claws. Losing your breath was part of the fun of growing up. I wondered how long it would be before she gave up smiling for good and the world got the better of her.

Her face was flushed red to match her ribbons: her hair now sweat-stuck to her forehead. I wished I had remembered to bring my camera.

The rope caught the back of her foot and she stumbled to the ground fifty or sixty kisses along. I wanted to get out and help her up -- rub her grazed knees, tell her it was all right -- but she was soon back on her toes, begging her friends for another go. That痴 my girl, I thought. I felt like a proud parent.

I wondered how long it would be before I gave in, and my desires got the better of me.

The lights went from red to green and my wife nudged me. I smiled, slipped the van into gear, and the girl with the pink ribbons was gone.

Maybe tomorrow I値l come back for her.