One day Catalan found something strange in a field.
It was a little plastic thing with arms and legs and eyes that blinked open and shut. She tried to remember the name for it. She thought, baby, and girl, and little sister until she finally got to doll. She tore a piece of material off her golden dress and wrapped Doll in it and carried her under her arm as she trudged along beside Romeo who had under his arm the wooden box that had contained Catalan's heart.
At night the skies swirled with hot black winds and ash and by day the air was thick and still and red and they often slept then, under rocks and trees to hide from the sunlight that was not good for their dead skin and from the poachers with cruel teeth and little flashing eyes.
They had stopped holding hands somewhere along the way, although Catalan was not sure when this had happened. Maybe after Baron took Romeo, and then her, and doubt was introduced into their previously pure dead minds.
Catalan held onto Doll instead. clutched, actually.
One day they found a cabin in the woods with a little wooden table and three chairs and a cot. Catalan sat Doll in the littlest chair and pretended to serve them all some dried leaves for supper. Then they all tried to lie down in the cot but it was too small so Catalan curled up on the floor with Doll in her arms.
In the middle of the night she felt hands and her body jammed with fear; was it another poacher?
But it was Romeo. He picked her up like a dead kitten (not a dead cat for that would conjure a less sympathetic image somehow) and put her to rest gently in the cot with Doll beside her. Then he curled up on the floor near by to keep watch. He never closed his eyes
oh, only for a few moments, just a few.
And that was when the door opened and they heard the roar of animals with dark fur and teeth who had learned, since the disasters, to speak.