by Francesca Forrest
“Are there any bandages in this house?” Tina asked. “I’ve found an oulough, but it’s hurt.” She likes to do this: come into my—sorry, make that our—bedroom when I’m trying to study and ask me for something.
Tina’s not my little sister. She’s my half-niece, I guess you’d say. Her mom is my half-sister Shari. If you were ever to hear any authority figure talking about Shari, you’d hear things like “poor impulse control” and “bad choices.” One of those last landed in her in jail, and that’s how Tina came to be living with my mom and me and telling me about a wounded oulough.
I had not actually ever heard of ouloughs before. It’s disconcerting, when you’re nineteen, to have an eight-year-old mentioning animals you’ve never heard of. It occurred to me—this might have been intellectual ego protection kicking in—that maybe it was just that Tina’s pronunciation was off, like maybe she was trying to say, I don’t know, orangutan or something. Not that it’s likely she would have run across an orangutan in Indian Orchard.
“Say that again? You found a what?” I asked.