MARIGOLD WOMAN: You are mad, you are not like us

SCENE: The snow is blue and yellow and pillows the world from its own ugly claws. The highways are slick and filthy with it, but here in the field below the big house it retains the colors the Almighty gave it at the start. The Cheshire Cat sits in the shelter of a tree, all red-boled and split-ended an fingery in the slantlight.

CAT: What’s this? I thought no one lived here any more.

A squirrel drops down from the branches of the tree, with a scuffle and ruination of the snow.

SQUIRREL: Well. She scratches herself with one back foot. I thought that, too. I thought they were all going to the swamp. But then that—that thing happened, that person—

CAT: drily –I’ve heard the story a few times by now, yes. Our lady the Marigold Woman is fond of reciting it.

SQUIRREL: Yes. She would be.

CAT: Yes.

They consider this.

CAT: But really, what brings you here? I stay here with the ghosts because it’s in my nature, but you…?

SQUIRREL: I don’t know. We all lived here once. It wasn’t a good home but now there isn’t any home at all. I thought I’d come back and look at it, at the swimming pool.

CAT: Mmmm.

They both stare over the field, and there is that in their eyes that makes one wonder where the blacksnakes go in the winter, where the clockwork scorpions are stored, what the mourning-doves have been doing while we were all out adventuring.

CAT: The moonbuggy never lived here.

SQUIRREL: That’s true. I hadn’t thought of that. But they can’t all fit in her house, can they? That was the whole trouble to begin with.

CAT: The whole trouble was the beginning-with.

And the squirrel cannot gainsay him, however hard she may try.