When I was a child, I used to play on a tire swing in the back yard. It was this little sedan tire that I could barely sit in by the time I was ten. I wanted a better tire. I would think about better tires all day. Monster trucks seemed like the best thing in the world to me. A tire that could eat you up. You could sleep in that tire swing and never come down again. It didn't matter to me that no tree could support the weight of a twenty foot tire; I just wanted a better tire.
The dead bird had gotten better. It was still a dead bird, it was just bigger, prettier, more vicious-looking, and so, ‘better’ by any definition but the medical sense of the word.
Now I know full well that transmutation is a nonsensical thing. Yeah, maybe I was scared Lily was a ghost, but for the recently bettered bird there had to be a real answer. Someone must be replacing them. Some elaborate prank on poor Abigail.
Here's how it played out in my imagination: She finds a dead bird (probably planted by the prankster in the first place), hears from the prankster that this one grave makes dead birds better, and sure enough she places the dead bird there, follows the prankster's instructions, and receives an improved dead bird in its place the following day. No wonder Abigail smiles so much, living in a fantasy woven by some modern day Puck.
Chalk up the 'mother' thing to kids saying the darnedest things and the mystery was solved.
But I still needed proof. And don't look down on me for this, I beg, but I had no choice but to secretly follow Abigail down to the cemetery again on my day off. I had to stake out the grave of Mother Bird to get my proof of prankster.
I settled in for a long wait behind a tree. I sipped out of a thermos of tea and entertained myself with a book while I waited for someone to make the switch. I waited until dark before I gave up. I went to leave and passed the grave on the way, but stopped short when I noticed a change in the bird Abigail had left behind. Somehow I had missed it, and the bird had already been made better.
I was certain no one came by. I was close enough to hear someone walking past. A closed, clunky, squeaky gate fenced in this section of the cemetery. I tested it vigorously. The quietest noise it made was a shudder-inducing screech. No, no one came that day aside from me and Abigail. I looked back at Janet's grave and felt my skin crawl.