Dawn cackles as she guides me through the all-glass porch. Thinner, paler Reina shuffles about behind Dawn, watching as I slip my boots off. Although she tries to hide her hands, her fingers flicker nervously. I place my boots neatly on the floor of the porch beside the other pairs in the shadows under the coats. Music drifts through to us from a distant room - it's the Beach Boys' California Dreamin'. Dawn looks at me and I smile - they've put the record on for me. Dawn nods along happily. 'Hear you're a surfer boy!' she says and she mimics riding a wave.
Carla H. Krueger
Mom, how do you know if the guy is the guy?' You mean if he'll be a good husband?' She pauses, then says 'The ticket is for the man to love the woman more than she loves him.' Shouldn't it be equal?' Mom cackles. 'It can never be equal.' But what if the woman loves the man more?' A life of hell awaits her. As women, the deck is stacked against us because time is our enemy. We age, while men season. And trust me, there are plenty of women out there looking for a man, and they don't mind staking a claim on somebody else's husband, no matter how old, creaky, and deaf they are.
But Gemma, you could change the world." "That should take far more than my power, " I say. "True. But change needn't happen all at once. It can be small gestures." "Moments. Do you understand?" He's looking at me differently now, though I cannot say how. I only know I need to look away... We pass by the pools, where the mud larks sift. And for only a few seconds, I let the magic loose again. "Oi! By all the saints!" a boy cries from the river. "Gone off the dock?" an old woman calls. The mud larks break into cackles. "'S not a rock!" he shouts. He races out of the fog, cradling something in his palm. Curiosity gets the better of the others. They crowd about trying to see. In his palm is a smattering of rubies. "We're rich mates! It's a hot bath and a full belly for every one of us!" Kartik eyes me suspiciously. "That was a strange stroke of good fortune." "Yes it was." "I don't suppose that was your doing." "I'm not sure I don't know what you mean, " I say. And that is how change happens. One gesture. One person. One moment at a time.
Rosy's mummy hands Franny a clear plastic bag full of reject biscuits, then Rosy holds her cheek out for Franny's wet kiss. Rosy wipes the slime from her face and Franny cackles, then shows them both into the lounge. There on Franny's coffee table is a biscuit tin with a Christmas picture on the lid. Proper shop-bought biscuits, not factory rejects. 'Please, may I have a biscuit?' Rosy says. 'Oh, there are no biscuits in that my darling, ' Franny says, and pulls the tin from Rosy's prying fingers. Franny holds open the bag of crumb-speckled chocolate digestives. 'Help yourself, my wee hen.' Rosy settles for a reject. Franny puts the Christmas tin up high, way up high, way out of reach.