Phil makes popcorn in a silver pot with no handles. He wears grey oven mitts, moves quickly through the kitchen, leaves all the cupboard doors open. Our shoulders press against each other as we all sit on the couch and eat the buttery popcorn out of small silver bowls, wiping our fingers on squares of blue kangas. We watch a documentary about whales, tides, phytoplankton. M turns her face into my side when the killer whales attack a young grey whale. The world is too fierce to watch.
After the girls are in bed I walk through the night to a bright art studio, drip water colours onto a plastic meat tray, paint small rectangles just to watch the colours move. I share squares of dark chocolate with other artists, listen to teenagers worry about their homework. Later I will leave my small paintings on the coffee table for the girls, my apology for being gone so late.
J and M disappear after supper. I find them at the basketball court playing a game they’ve invented, taking turns at each basket. J holds the ball tight with both hands, swings it through her legs. M cheers every time, turns to me with amazement, “Isn’t she GOOD?” Their bare feet make soft sounds against the clay court. We walk home in the dim evening light and I am amazed at how their small feet move over sharp gravel.