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The Girl in the House

She’s writing every name she knows with her finger on the dirt floor of eight South twelve Down. She looks up to see a kitten.

It stumbles–adorably–and tests the floor with one paw. She laughs and waves at it; it doesn’t react.

She picks it up. Its heart pounds. Its nametag says “Millicent.”

The girl becomes aware that Cosette is her name, properly. That Millicent, the only other living thing she’s seen, is the first thing she hasn’t needed to name. That someone else exists: someone who would replace a kitten’s eyes with marbles, to keep it stumbling forever.