"I wouldn't associate with their elk," said Lydia, turning her nose up and making a moue of disgust. "They're not normal."
"What's that got to do with their elk?" asked Fred, her brother. He had a shock of bright red hair, freckles that ran from his forehead down his face and chest, and gaps between his teeth because their mother hadn't believed dentists were real doctors. Lydia liked to tell him that he was only her half-brother, that his father was surely the milk-man.
"Well, if they're not normal, their elk won't be normal either," said Lydia. "It stands to reason, only normal people would pick a normal elk."
"Do normal people keep elk as pets?"
"Hmm... maybe that's another reason not to associate with them."
"Or their elk."
Lydia began to suspect that Fred was somehow making her look stupid, but since there was no-one around to listen to their conversation she decided to ignore him. She changed the conversation.
Fred frowned, but then his face cleared and he smiled again. Rufus was his pet hedgehog who'd run off a couple of days earlier.
"Dead!" he said. "But it's cool, it turned out that Rufus was really Rufusette, and she'd given birth. So I've got three pet baby hedgehogs now."
"Have you named them yet? Can I see them?"
"No, and no," said Fred. "You'll hurt them."
"I will not!" Lydia was filled with outrage, mostly that he'd spotted that she just wanted to take them away from him.
"Yes, you will. You tried to hurt Rufus whenever you found him."
"Yes, her. Rufusette. It seems weird her having a new name after all this time."
"I wouldn't hurt her children."
"Yes you would. You'd probably try and feed them to that elk."
"Oh shut up about the elk!"
There was a silence as Fred obeyed and Lydia didn't know what to say next. Slowly, trying not to attract attention to himself, Fred slid off the wall he'd been sat on, and then ducked down behind it. He waited a few seconds, knowing that Lydia would say something as soon as she noticed, and when she remained quiet he crept away, staying crouched down until he reached the corner and turned it and could stand up again and run off. He had no idea where Lydia had got the idea that their neighbours had an elk from, but he thought he'd better tell them before she decided that the elk had to go and they all found out the hard way what she thought the elk was. He ran swiftly down the street, turned at the end onto his own road, and came to an abrupt halt. There, in the front garden of the neighbours's house was an elk, standing eating the hedge.
"See!" Lydia must have seen him and followed him, as she was now stood behind him, slightly flushed and trying to hide that she was out of breath. "They have an elk. And I wouldn't associate with it."
"It wouldn't associate with you either, dear," said a voice behind both of them, and their neighbour, Mr. Primrose appeared from round the corner. "He's well aware that pets don't seem to live very long when you're around."