Judy’s in the sandbox. She is building castles, she is digging holes. It’s like little Judy has a plan: to create a sand city or at least some place to live. She doesn’t really want to go home, even though it’s getting late now and all other children are shouted down from windows and balconies and summoned indoors. At some point there’s no one left except for Rachel who is standing by the sandbox, sternly surveying Judy’s work and licking candy the size of her head. Rachel hates her parents, or at least that’s what she says. Nobody believes her. There’s also Birdie, a small dog that lives in the yard. Dirty but hopelessly cute. When adults suggested throwing her away, the kids stood up for her and promised to think of a name and look after and bring food. Presently, Birdie is lying just outside the sandbox, half-sleeping, half-watching Rachel.
Suddenly, the wind starts and sweeps Rachel away. That’s what Judy thinks: because now she has the yard all to herself. There is no sign of Rachel. Birdie is gently snoring, occasionally breaking into sudden whimpers caused by bad memories.
In the meantime, Judy’s work is over and she claps her hands in delight. The place, a combination of huge sand walls and a deep hole, is ready. Judy calls Birdie and Birdie looks at her in surprise and disbelief. Judy invites Birdie to follow her and crawls inside. There is enough place for both of them, and they enjoy the warmth and the secrecy. They stay inside, and when the night is over and the morning breaks they are still there. And then the next day and the day after that. They like it down there, Judy can feel for herself and for Birdie. Sometimes there are voices outside, but the voices are getting quieter and more and more muffled with each passing day, week, month. Sometimes they can hear the sound of rain outside as it falls down and thickens the walls made of sand. Sometimes there’s a cozy feeling of terror as the thunder strikes. Sometimes they can feel the snow covering them.
And then Judy wakes up one day (it’s hard to judge when it’s morning and when it’s night) and decides that they should leave. They should go out and see what’s going on outside. Slowly they crawl outside and the daylight blinds them. Judy stands up and looks around. She can’t recognise what she is seeing now. It all looks different and new and hostile. All these people running around: they seem pointless and a little insane. They are both scared, but they can’t stop looking. Birdie barks something, and Judy whispers, almost silently, almost to herself: “Yes, it does look like that. It does look like a dog’s life”.