Gauss Anne was sitting again at Alphus’s small kitchen table. She was on a break from counting snowflakes, and Alphus had told her the story of his first pet and of his sister and of other things he was missing. “Were they making it okay? Are they on their way back?” he wanted to know.
“They’re dead, Alphus.” Gauss Anne told him.
“I don’t know what you mean.”
She grabbed a spatula and took him over to the radiator where he had an infestation of black beetles. She swung at them.
“Dead.” She struck several beetles in one go. Some had their exoskeletons fracture completely, and their legs splayed evenly out to the sides. Others, that had only been partially hit, struggled limply, half their bodies pinned to the carpet.
She kept swinging,
This wasn’t all that informative. She tried to explain, “When things die, they don’t come back, Alphus. You lose them. Do you understand me?” She rested and looked up at him. His hands were up around his head, and he trembled.
“No. I don’t understand.”
“I guess it’s complicated.”
“But… I can’t stand it.”
“You’ll get used to it. Even though you know about death, now, you’ll forget that it happens. Everybody does.”
“I don’t think so….”
“Here, would you like a try?” She said, handing him the spatula.
At first he took it hesitantly and then repositioned his grip more with more purpose. Whack! Hard, he came down on the beetles.
“Ah!” he screamed, looking shocked at the most recent splatter of beetle guts. “I think you’d better go” he told Gauss Anne.