This morning the rain falls in individual drops, a slow syncopation on the banana trees, the roof of the plastic car in the lawn. The birds call to each other across the valley, staying dry beneath the tree leaves, waiting for the flying termites to emerge from the wet earth.

The girls’ dolls are spread across the house, long rows of small shoes along the edges of the coffee table, a picnic blanket spread under the potted plant. I don’t know if it’s more important that they learn to clean up or that their imaginary world remains intact. I regret how often I’ve intruded in their private universe.

Phil promises a piece of licorice to any girl who can make it half way across the slackline stretched over the yard. They practice over and over, argue about whose turn it is, fall and scrape ankles and knees, small wobbly acrobats.

A robin is collecting small twigs from my flower bed, its orange beak bobbing wildly as it tries to grab just one more stick. It lifts its wings, flaps into the low branches of the avocado tree, carries its treasure to a secret home.

When the delivery of our Indian food takes too many hours, we wait in the dark on the front steps, sing songs about the moon, the stars, the mongoose. We dance on the cool pavement, the girls in their pajamas, spin in circles and laugh at our improvised lyrics.

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