She lived on lentils and barley
with a crippled cat and three unopened
boxes: silver, gold, and lead.

With no one to warn or instruct her,
she didn't know how to choose.

Her mother held a large knife
at her throat and claimed to be a pirate.

Her father left her every day
for many years.

She heard the air conditioner
channeling a radio talk show
from . . . elsewhere. She could almost
articulate the words.

The voice said, "you can stay with me
and be happy, or leave and be miserable
the rest of your life," but the voice
sounded cold.

She went for a walk.
At the end of the path,
she was greeted by three raccoons.

She left the choice to them.

Published in Strange Horizons