"If it were done when 'tis done then 'twere well it were done quickly."
- William Shakespeare
She takes them out to the balcony, dragging them along by the strings tied to their necks. Away from the noise and warmth of the party they seem paler, emptier, their skins vulnerable to the city's indifference. What seemed like light-hearted optimism is revealed as a desperate eagerness to please.
For a moment, charmed by their helplessness, she considers letting them go, letting them float away above the rooftops, lose themselves in the evening sky. Then she remembers what happened last year. How one of them ended up perching in the tree opposite, how it stayed there for two days, becoming the constant focus of her daughter's three year old attention. How much her daughter cried the morning it was gone.
This time she will make sure. She takes the scissors from her pocket, checks that her daughter is not around, that she is still in the other room opening her presents; then proceeds to puncture them, her scissors pecking hurriedly at their tiny flock. They burst easily enough: their death a soundless explosion, a small, grateful gasp. Yet she cannot help feel guilty as she pockets the scissors, gathers up the string. A necklace of rubber foreskins, of withered flowers. She bunches them all together, closes her fist around them. She will place them at the very bottom of the garbage, where they will not be seen.