Kelly was tight at the joints. Her arms and legs were screwed to her chest plate and pelvis with heavy silver bolts. Thin white blonde ponytails sat behind her ears. They hung lank to the middle of her back. The summer air didn’t stir them, and they ignored the ceiling fan in the hallway.
Kelly stood against the kitchen counter in her plaid uniform jumper and made the salad for dinner. A bed of iceberg for the face. She peeled waxy carrot curls for the hair and cut cucumber moons for the eyes and a pulpy wedge of tomato for a wet, bleeding smile. Mom flickered around the stove, stirring pots, a candle brightening and darkening as the summer air filtered through the open window over the kitchen sink. Kelly lifted six heavy plates from the cabinet and carried the shifting pile to the kitchen table. The lithosphere chattered its false teeth under her feet. She slid open the silverware drawer. Forks and knives shivered in cold silver stacks, a humming tussle to slide to the bottom of the pile. There was a tiny din in the drawer, and it unsettled Kelly to see the silver so shaken. She quickly drew out what she needed. She took a stack of empty plastic cups from the cabinet, light as a handful of salt. Mom’s hair was pulled back in a red bandana. Her forehead was shining under the light of the oven’s hood. “Call them,” she said, as she scooted limp vegetables around the pan with a spatula. Kelly walked to the front door and opened it, pushing against the resistance collecting on the porch. “Dinner!” she yelled.