“Bunny ears, bunny ears,” she sang with both laces scrunched in her fists, trying to loop them. She wanted them tight and secure, the way adults did them. There was something about the two strings that made her fingers stop cooperating with her head. She could wave, point, and count on them all the way up to ten, even make them into the head of a dog at night in front of a torch. Knots, though, were where her digits drew the line. She started over, murmuring the tune to them, trying to make them work.
“Bunny ears, bunny ears, playing by a tree.”
She sobbed on the kitchen floor at his feet. He had his back against the cupboard. She was clinging to his ankles, the veins of her hands popping. There was broken glass on the floor. The small grains cut at her knees.
“By a tree,” she repeated, still holding the two loops opposite each other. Her tongue poked between her lips slightly while she stared at the bleach white laces. She sung carefully, “Criss-crossed the tree,” and pulled the laces over one another, “trying to catch me.”
He looked up at the ceiling when he could no longer look at her. The crescendo of their broken breakfast was still ringing in his ears. He always heard crashes when he looked at her. When she smiled it was like the smashing of plates or cymbals. He had thought it was passion, the kind of chaos he’d hoped for. He looked back down. Her tears were mixing with red.
“Bunny ears, bunny ears, jumped in the hole,” her fingers pinched at the laces. Again, “Jumped in the hole,” her small voice pushed her fingers to move. When she pulled the strings to make the knot they went limp by the sides of her sneaker. She played with the end of the shoelace, whispering to herself “Popped out the other side beautiful and bold,” and finished the song anyway.
“I’m sorry,” she said from the tiles. She crawled up his leg, clawing at his pants with her hands. When she finally pulled herself up she was shaking. She gripped his collar. The blood from the cuts on her knees streamed to her socks, where they stopped and stained the white.
She twisted a shoelace around her pointing finger and watched. Her mum let go of her dad’s shirt and smoothed it over. Without touching the tears on her face and the blood on her shins she moved to sweep the glass off the floor.
When her dad walked away the remaining glass crunched under his feet. He trailed it over the living room carpet on his way to the front door. The sharp grains embedded a path in the carpet, like breadcrumbs to follow.
Her shoes slipped off as she trailed along, picking the crumbs up piece by piece.