They left that morning before the dew had vanished in the blue summer heat. She’d tied her friend to a fencepost behind the house where the two brothers lived, talking all the while and telling him to be good and promising treats and walks and all manner of good things if he would just please wait there for her return, because cultural knowledge is passed on in elusive little ways after all, and a child’s mind is like a border town in which improbable scenes can and most certainly will take place.
She’d skipped yesterday but here they were picking sides again for another day’s war, two tiny generals and we have become their armies, but it was summer and she wasn’t bored yet and besides they’d all been told to be nice to them for living alone with their mother and coming here after some great tragedy that no one would ever explain. So into the woods now, half north, half south and they’d meet in the middle for the ambushes and taking prisoners and sort out who won after the major battles had ended or when they just got tired because no mortal can play even a great game forever.
Hiding low in the underbrush, she saw one of the brothers untie the dog and yank him toward the woods, a prisoner. But then the dog broke free and only hours later when he still hadn’t come home did she begin to cry and regret her initial enthusiasm.