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T-birds on ice
T-birds on ice

He had loved the penguins.

- I want a penguin, the child said.

- No you don't, said his mother.

- I want a penguin, the child said.

- No you don't, said his mother.

- I want a penguin, the child said.

- No you don't, said his mother. Now will please just shut up, please. You won't have a penguin, period.

- Waouhouhaoua, started the 4-foot wailing siren, a dreadful sound totally out of proportion with the size of its source.

The mother feared that a suspicious policeman would ask them to pull over. But the little car was lost in the immensity of the Great Ice Barrier. A blizzard was coming and she had to look out for the sign that would show them home. Driving on ice was hard enough and she didn't need any further trouble. Of course, a young child was always trouble.

After a while, the wailing subsided to a more human and gentle sobbing, and the mother could provide what motherly comfort was needed.

- Love, we can't have a penguin, she said. I know, they?re cute, they?re so cute, the little ones, I'd like to have one too. I mean it, they?re lovely. But a penguin... It needs ice, water, fish, and lots of friends. I'll buy you a stuffed one when we?re back. Is that OK? A big furry one. (Anything to get out of this, she thought).

- I want no stuffed penguin, I want a live one, the child said. I want to give it fishes, he added. I like that. It's funny when they eat. The child giggled.

- Well, all penguins are not nice, she said. Some of them carry terrible diseases, plagues. They bite people too. If we had one at home, he could be one of these. He could bite me, or he could bite you. You don't want that, do you?

- No.

- So you see. We can't have a penguin.

- We could give him shots. We could buy him a puzzle.

- A what?

- A puzzle.

- A muzzle?

- Yes, a puzzle.

- No we won't buy him a muzzle. They don't even make muzzles for penguins because nobody keeps penguins as pets.

- Yes they do, I?ve seen the puzzles.

She didn't have many solutions left to end this conversation. She could already feel the storm, though it wasn't visible yet. She would need her whole concentration in a few minutes. And a quiet child. What a price to pay, though. She sighed.

- You remember your dad, love?

- No.

- Yes you do.

- Yes, my daddy.

- You remember what happened, do you?

- No.

- Yes you do. She wished he didn't. Please, why do I have to do this?, she asked to no-one in particular.

- The rhino, the child said.

- Yes, the rhino, you remember the rhino do you, you remember what happened, love?

- The rhino hurt daddy.

- Yes, we kept the nice big rhino at home, and he hurt daddy. We brought back the nice big rhino from Africa, and we had it at home, and you fed him, and you played with him and then he trampled daddy, and we had to look for a new home, and for a new daddy, because the other one didn't want to talk to us anymore.

The child was silent for a while.

The blizzard struck.

The child said