"In some ways otters obey the ten commandments better than people do," Jane says.
I glance up from the black couch. Mid-morning, running shorts, a striped shirt, she tilts her head perpendicular to a smile. I quaff a swash of water, sweat from my morning run still dripping down my temples.
"How so?" I say.
"They only marry once."
"Oh, yeah." Our eyes meet in gentle creases of smile. She ambles to the piano, picks up her morning practice. I drink down the rest of my water.
Chores and tasks of practice ensue. A whole week weaves itself by.
"Mom," Lucy says, "I want a Saxxon Math book."
"Yeah?" I say, once again there on the black couch fresh from my run. "Why is that?"
"'Cause," she says, "I like math, and I want a SAXXON Math book for the school year."
"I'll think about it," I say.
She considers the offer, then sidles on to catch bugs and check on burgeoning tomatoes.
I sip my quart jar of brisk water, read over fall curriculum spilled over my lap.
Finally Sunday rises and there we are almost ready for church. I slip out back to trim my fingernails. Joe, Myra, and eventually Lu trail behind me, back door open, forgotten.
"That's SOUP," Myra says. I trim the ring finger of my left hand. "DON'T step in the soup."
I trim my pinkie, glance up. Myra crouched in Sunday dress, gently stirs a bucket of runoff with a old green flyswatter. Flecks of grass swill around it. Joe, suited up in skivvies, crouches next to her. They carry the seriousness of a board meeting.
"Ok," I say, "come on, let's finish getting ready." Instead of puncturing the moment, it tugs, more like a ribbon arcing through air. They trail behind me, something pulling us all forward. The next moment, there it is, in perfect time. It encircles us like the tail end of that ribbon.
5527. Joe falls out of bed. I tuck him in. "Hug me he demands," in slurred sleep speech. I clasp him around the shoulders. "Hug Jack too," he shouts as I stand to leave.
5528. I pat Jack's head. "Love you," I say. He's diagonal on the bed ,a handwritten story slid in multiple sheets across the bed. I spy the title: How To Grow Watermelon.
5529. Jane and I wash and hard boil five dozen fresh eggs.
5530. Rosie brings me flowers for my birthday. They smell like honey.
5531. Cerissa invites us over to play.
5532. Logan turns nine.
5533. Zeke turns four.
5534. Jack turns eight.
5535. We celebrate in parties. Joy.
5536. Oh, and I have a birthday too, best yet. Craig and I go on a date. Jane bakes us breadsticks. Pizza and a movie, breadsticks for dinner, bliss.
5537. Mom and Aunt Janey return safely from the heritage trip of a lifetime. They take Grampa to the town of his birth. Miracles of remembrance ensue.
5538. Craig and Jack buy me a bottle of my favorite sparkling water.
5539. Jane, Lu, and I revamp the sewing area. Stack upon neat stack, we bloom with anticipation.
5540. Craig and Jack anchor the dishwasher.
5541. Craig makes a second batch of those breadsticks. We dip them in Alfredo.
5542. We round the last corner of July and find the school year fresh in our face, felicity, the next bend in the road.