The summer Mikey Cotter moved into his uncle’s house we built a fairy city out of mouse bones. We put twenty traps in the woods with cheese and peanut butter and caught nineteen mice. We hid the mice up on a high shelf in the storage closet in my garage and a few weeks later, they were ready.
“Pee-ew,” I said.
“Mmmm, fresh meat,” Mikey said.
We picked the fur and dried up guts off the sharp little bones and carried them to our fort in the backyard made of old strung-up bed sheets. Mikey crushed the skulls under his tennis shoe because he said we had no use for them. The ribcages were the roofs and the leg bones were the white divider lines on the highway. Mikey named the bone city Axl Rose after his favorite singer, so we plucked a rose from Mrs. Landrud’s garden and made it the centerpiece of the town square.
“Does it look too girly?” I asked Mikey. He asked me if I hated girls.
“Yes,” I said, because I thought it was the right answer.
“I don’t,” he said.
“Well, I don’t really hate them,” I said. I didn’t. I was one.
The sun was coming through the sheet behind me and making my back hot. The big flowers on the white sheet cast shadows across the town. “There’s a storm coming to Axl Rose,” I said.
Mikey made a sound like thunder.
“Do you think the fairies will come?” I asked.
“No,” Mikey said.
I thought he didn’t hear because he didn’t answer. But then he pointed to a big black beetle crawling over the highway line.
“The real things will scare them away,” he said.