Mari Mejia's pet gerbil Loca lived for six months before dying in its sleep. Mari was five years old. Her father wrapped the body in brown paper towels and placed it gently in the trash. Afterward, Mari had wanted a larger, more significant pet, like Harlow McCalister's bloodhound or Ella Avery's tabby cat. She had hoped her mother might even have another baby, a girl, so Mari could have a sister. Something Mari could hug and teach things to.