The girls draw portraits of faces over and over, piles of paper faces growing on the dining room table. J has drawn me, though my eyes and hair are black and unfamiliar. I wonder at her image of me. P’s girl is crying and colourful, like a sad Raggedy Ann. M’s face has eyes at the top of her head, stylized and funky. They draw and colour and argue over pencil crayons.

I give up my conviction to not buy hard plastic and buy two shiny new plastic buckets for the drought. A basin for dishwater. Two buckets in the bathrooms. We collect bath water, sink water, dip into the brown soapy water with a plastic jug to flush the toilets, water the plants. We still have more water than almost anyone in the world. I am puzzled at the memory of flushing without thinking.

We play Sleeping Queens on the back porch. J always wins. We play Spot It and Shut the Box and King of Tokyo and Deer in the Headlights. These are the games of choice these weeks, though I can’t always muster the energy to play them. I already regret the chances I’ve missed.

The girls watch my play practices, know the lines better than the cast, skip behind plants and boss the middle schoolers around. We string stars between branches, tape long leafy vines to a gold moon, wrap delicate wires around fairy ears.

I wait for reports about my aunt dying on a far away continent. One day she has stopped eating,the next, she’s revived,is walking. We watch her totter on the tightrope between worlds.

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