WINNIPEG — The little girl shuffled through the snow until her progress was halted by the line of yellow police tape flapping in the wind. Barely four feet tall, she shivered in the cold, her hands hidden inside the dangling arms of her winter coat.
She stared up at the blackened shell of the burned-out house, smoke still rising from what remained of its roof. She said her name was N'Tasha, and she was 11 years old. She wasn't supposed to be there, but she wanted to see the house where her brother, 14-year-old Nathan Starr, was killed yesterday morning.
"Was my brother trapped on the third floor?" N'Tasha asked, her voice even and her eyes wide. A few moments passed and she shuffled to the other side of the crime scene to get a better look. She said she woke up around 4 a.m. yesterday and found her father speaking to police in her living room.
"It was heartbreaking," she said. "When I watched the news they said he was in something condition."
"Yeah, critical. But then he died."
She continued to stare at the house, where even the snow around it had turned to a black sludge. Every few minutes a new question emerged.
"How did Nathan get stuck in that room? Do you know where the fire started?" she asked.
"I wonder which window they escaped from? Not any on the third floor."
She's a grieving little girl, for fuck's sake, not Little Nell...