Tonight the air is perfect. Clear. Warm. We can’t stop noticing it, can’t bear to bring the dishes inside and miss even a moment. Light falls in horizontal lines through the banana trees, then slips away while we watch. We light candles stuck in old wine bottles. The girls sing songs from Frozen, songs from chapel, songs they make up about colours. We laugh and clap, lean back on embroidered pillows, watch the silhouettes of bats.
The girls strike dramatic theatre poses, like opera stars, the candle spotlights giving them confidence. Their voices carry across the valley.

M walks without sound down the hall. Her sisters are asleep. Her eyes are red. She stands by my chair in a white tanktop, pink pajama pants and waits. Nothing is wrong, she has no questions, she just needs to be near me for a few minutes before she can face the night again. I kiss her shoulder, smell her hair. The faint smell of vinegar and warmth.

We celebrate the week with pasta and gelati. Clink glasses after toasts to P’s bike riding and the older girls’ happy weeks. P and M spin circles by the tables. J curls in Phil’s lap, her stomach hurting, his arms big enough.

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