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Some people collect coins, or maybe hats, souvenirs, and maybe sometimes some people collect crazy things like chewed-up gum, or soles of old shoes. Some people have crazy pets that serve no point but the ability to amaze people with their bazaarness. “Why do you have a tarantula?!” “So I can get that reaction from you.” The point of having a mouse is to scare your little sister. The point of having a cat is having something to hate more than yourself. The point of having a dog is to cry yourself to sleep less because you'll be too exhausted to cry. The point of having a snake is to feed your thirst for blood by feeding it rats and watching instead of going out and shooting little girls in the faces.
Maggie Phillips had lizards. She loved to talk about her lizards, talk to her lizards, play with her lizards, dress up her lizards, kiss her lizards, sleep with her lizards, take baths with her lizards; take her lizards everywhere.
More than that, though, Maggie collected lizards. In her room Maggie had 5 ten gallon aquariums and one 50 gallon aquarium for her lizards, leaving little room for anything else.
“Maggie! Time to wake up and get ready for school!” Mrs. Phillips would not only have to walk into Maggie's room, but also Maggie's closet to find her. Maggie had thrown out her bed long ago, and now slept in a bundle of blankets on the closet floor.
“Morning, dear.” Mrs. Phillips would say awkwardly, trying not to touch too many of her daughter's things. “Just hurry up and come downstairs.” She pinched her nose and shimmied out of the room on her little stilettos.
Maggie would crawl out of her bundle of blankets and scratch her head. She would put on her large bottle-cap-glasses, forget forget to put a comb through her crazy hair, put on a pair of overalls, and stuff her book bag full of lizards. She first lifted one out of its tank and patted its head for exactly 30 seconds, and then she put it in her bag. She would then take the next one, and another one, and another one, and put them in the bag the same way as the first, one after another. She did it all the same; the same for each lizard except for Gary. Gary was her favorite-he had been her first.
When Maggie was four she found a little lizard outside moving around on the rocks of her mother's garden. She liked to play with little frogs, and bugs, and other creatures that roamed outside. She liked to see what they did when she pulled of their wings, their legs, their antenna. She liked to see what they did when she put a small rock on top of them, then a bigger rock, and a bigger one. She liked to see what they did when she taped their mouths shut, when she put a cup on top of them, when she blew a French horn on top of them. One day, she started playing with a lizard. She looked back at the house to make sure mommy wasn't looking, and out of the front pocket on her overalls pulled out the pocket knife she had taken from her daddy's room. She held the squirming cold-blooded thing in between her thumb and forefinger. While she slowly sliced the tail clean off.
Maggie had jumped at her mother's shout and quickly stuffed the pocket knife, and the lizard into the pocket of her overalls. She ran inside the house for dinner, first dropping the lizard into a shoe box in her closet, and washing her hands. The next day she sat out by her mother's pond,watching the fish swim around together. What would one of them do if she tore off his fins? What would one of them do if she tore-off his fins? What would the other fish do? As she sat and she pondered, and she traced her finger through the water after the shy little coy, a bird sat high in a tree, inspiring poets to Rhyme, inspiring insects to fear, inspiring trees to grow. Maggie sat and she pondered, and she frowned, and she waited, and she pounced to her feet, and she picked up a rock, and she hurled it at the bird, and she knocked him down dead. Annoying, that's what he had been.
Maggie ripped up a piece of sea weed from the pond and threw it back in the water. She walked into the woods and found her bird. She stood over him and watched as slowly time passed and ants started to crawl over the body. She tilted her head, still standing over him, and examined his twisted neck from afar. She finally craned her neck and bent over his feathery carcass, and looked deep into his open, glossy eyes.
An ant passed over one and broke her concentration. She took the bird and put it in her pocket, along with every bug crawling through its guts. Back in her room she hid him in the box, along with the lizard.
She checked back on the two new friends a few days later, and noticed that oddly, the lizard's tail had grown back. So she kept him, and she called him Garry, and every time she saw another lizard she would catch it, cut off it's tail, wait a few days, and if the tail grew back she would name it and keep it forever. And every time a tail grew back she would smile.
“That is crazy beautiful.”