I wrote this as a 10,000-ish word novella some years back. It had its moments; overall it was a little misshapen, a little unwieldy. I condensed it to a paragraph last week, and like the result better. If I had simply done it this way in the first place I coulda saved myself a summer of writing.
Her name is Betty Bowens, though all the neighborhood kids call her Betty Bones, and she lives in the old house at the end of the street with her three dead children. They are dead; she is not, merely old, very old. Her children died of different causes, at different times: hit-and-run, cancer, suicide. Two were adults when they died, the cancer and the suicide. Her boy Tristan, poor lovely Tristan, he was the hit-and-run, he died at five. But here in her house, in Betty Bones' house, they are all children again, all toddlers again, their trikes endlessly squeaking down the sidewalk, their food endlessly spilling down their bibs. They need comfort when thunderstorms loom, cold washcloths on their foreheads when they are hot with fever. They gather in the living room every Christmas morning. They blow out candles on birthdays. They are losing their baby teeth, over and over again, forever smiling at her with loopy gap-toothed grins. She finds the teeth in odd places. Tilting in the drain of the bathroom sink. Rolling in the backs of kitchen drawers. Curling in the gray tendrils of her hair as she combs it out at night. She keeps them all in a fragile teacup perched on her windowsill, the cup now filled to overflowing, tiny enamel pearls dropping to the porcelain saucer below like tears, bone white and shining.