Exposition

“I can’t go to bed without a story.”

She was six and looked distractingly like my sister. I tried to remember which stories Abby had liked when she was a child. “Do you like Madeline?”

“She rhymes too much.”

“That’s true.”

“Also, I don’t like books. You have to tell the story.”

“That’s a lot more work.”

“That’s what Mom does.”

“Do I have to do everything that Mom does?”

“Today you do. Today you’re Mom.”

“Well, not exactly. But I see your point.”

“Tell.”

She settled into a bed that was immensely larger than her body and I thought for a minute, then bravely began:

“One night as I was washing the dishes I looked out the window and saw a giant walking down the road to my house.”

There was a trilling noise from the small body. “I’m not sure I want to hear a scary story.”

“This isn’t a scary story.”

“Giants eat people.”

“Only in stupid stories. Giants are just big people.”

She looked at me skeptically, with Abby’s exact cast of eye.

“Trust me.”

Eye rolling, but silent eye rolling.

I continued. “She was crying.”

“It was a girl giant?”

“Yes.”

“I never heard of a girl giant.”

“I told you they were stupid stories. There are just as many girl giants as boy giants. Actually—there are more girl giants.”

“Why?”

“Because actually, there is only one giant. She’s the only giant left.”

Deep breath.

“This is too sad. I need a less sad story.”

“You know,” I said, “on second thought, I think I do too.”

she dances everywhere
I’m not
the heat

I told her a story about the treehouse Abby and I had when we were little girls and how we threw rotten apples at people we didn’t want to come up into the treehouse. She laughed in the appropriate places. Then she asked, “Was that a real story?”

“About the treehouse?”

“No, about the giant.”

“Oh,” I said. “Yes. Yes. That was a real story.”

“Good,” she said.

the roar of the lawnmower
just as I say
good night

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