Open the cardinal and see what comes out. Is it sand is it fur is it hollow bones? Pumpkin seeds spit from your car’s exhaust? Cut a finger on its feathers drop red onto red. Squeeze out a lemon and spit in the shell. It worked when I waved my wand, squeezed mice into something beautiful. Knock twice on the  belly. Smile for your host. Climb inside chew your lemon peel swallow the seeds. There is a church under the cardinal’s wings made of pews made of feathers made of red glass light. There is a church, would I lie to you? Walk down the aisle, follow your dirtiest fingertips if you get lost. Follow them, follow them, find a ring on your stepsister’s finger find your hands on your stepmother’s pearls squeeze your lemon into something beautiful.

There is cheese in the belly of the cardinal. Find it red and eat until you fall asleep. Wrap yourself in your eyelids and crawl. Here is the dress from the ball. Here is a smudge. Here is shaving cream and a stolen razor. Pull your eyelids tighter so it stings. Here is a bottle of blue pills. I made it just for you. Swim through the bottle come out the cardinal’s beak.

There might have been a slipper and there might have been a knife. Spin in a circle pull it out of your chest. Pull it out of your chest. Listen to me when I am speaking to you.

Blink your eyes and dream of little hands. Dream of hands spilling from the door in your birdcage. How tiny they are, how dirty how sweet. How they long for anything but themselves. Crouch in the fireplace little Cinder, crouch in the fire and watch them play. There were hands at the ball too. We all saw what they were after, though they hid in their cow skin suits. How hard it was to walk in shoes that had never been alive.

Face the glass cardinal and open your eyes. Push it to the ground, and walk out with red slippers. Walk into the forest walk into the trees. Make a nest. There are birds in the forest, red feathers and brown. Here is a robin’s egg, here is a stone. Here is a woodpecker, here is a worm. Here is a ring and here is a dress. You can have one without the other, if that is what you want.

Remember the pumpkin I made for you? Remember the ball? Remember the cuts above your lip, the first time you shaved? Remember the men that I made for you, remember how they helped you up the stairs? Remember cracking the eggs for me, the cake with three candles? Remember what you wished for?

Here is a bottle of little blue pills. I made them just for you.

***

Jenny Fried is a writer living in California. Her work has appeared previously or is forthcoming in Bad Nudes, X-R-A-Y, and Jellyfish Review.Find her on twitter @jenny_fried.

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