A clock hung in a box over the kitchen table. The pendulum nudged and dinner was at 4:30. Mary, Rosie, and Sandy sat in a curl around the table’s round corner. A bowl of salad. White chicken breasts with heavy dots of black pepper and paprika. Potato boats. Swirls of white potatoes in charred, papery skins. Piles of bright yellow corn, shining under pats of butter. Eating was like brushing your teeth or dusting heater vents. It was to be done.
Windows were open in the summer, and the house pulled at the air straining through the screens. The sisters sat at the table like three small wooden spools, and the air circled loosely around them like soft yellow thread. Six legs kicked under the table.
Sandy washed, Rosie dried, and Mary cleaned the floor. When Sandy and Rosie were done, they threw open the front door and poured out of it like a tipped pitcher heavy with water. Children cheered from down the lane, and Sandy and Rosie took off. They were small and fast and looked like they were flying inches above the path.
Mary sat on the porch with envelopes of paper dolls, one envelope for each doll and her wardrobe. She put the envelopes in different orders and labeled them with their contents. She scored the tabs on the paper gowns with her fingernail. She shuffled the envelopes in a shoebox.
She swang in the backyard. Her mom waved from the kitchen window. Mary’s cheeks went slack under her cheekbones, and the cooling night air wiped damp palms in the hollows on her face. Her legs broke the air into blocks. She kicked off her shoes when she was high in the air. They landed in the green grass. The swingset lifted each time she rose in the air. When she dropped down, the swingset slammed into the ground and her bottom smacked against the rubber seat. She breathed in short, clean lines. Her hands cut the metal chains, and her arms were loose like water.