I carry a plastic bucket of bath water across the lawn in the early morning to water my favourite palm tree. I notice how wet the grass is and wonder where all that moisture comes from in this time of drought, heat. The ground is hard, the dirt in the flower beds cracked and dusty, but the grass is cool and wet beneath my bare feet. It’s the first time I remember being deeply grateful for dew.
J and her friends decide to institute International Baby Day. She wraps the doll M made for her in a sweater, the doll with the orange yarn hair, the purple bonnet, the stuffed sock body, and tucks her into her backpack, secretly when no one is watching. Later after her secret plan has unfolded without a hitch and she no longer has to worry about me interfering, she tells me about the day, the baby, the way the girls played with their dolls during recess. Her doll is still strapped to her back with a green cardigan like a Kenyan mama.
I read Peter Duck to the girls before bedtime. The words are difficult, the sailing lingo tedious. But the girls don’t complain as they colour pictures of Harry Potter wands, draw trees with curlicue branches. P has been drawing guinea pigs on all her pictures for months, small round creatures with curved legs and small smiles, her signature work.
I duck my head as I hang laundry on the line, hoping no one will see me, notice that I used my washing machine during this time of so little water. Each clean piece of clothing feels decadent, a luxury that I’ve stolen.
After supper the girls beg for a Family Game, something involving hiding and chasing around the yard. We decide on Big Black Bear, Phil gives into the pressure to hide because he is scariest, fastest, loudest. We run around the house, hold hands, shriek into the fading evening light. I remember playing this game as a child, running through the farmyard with my cousins, scared of older brothers, the thrill of danger.