An eight-year-old boy, on his way to the principal's for behaving badly, pounds on a locker, sobs that nobody understands his life. Out on the playground, other children are singing, sliding, jumping rope. The blinds dance along the edge of the office window; papers surge on the breeze from a desk to the floor.
They fight stupidly, and she takes a walk. Not far, only a couple of blocks, but still she must reckon with dogs and neighbors, with sinister shapes and thumps in the dark, until she's home again, until she's home.
In the parking lot outside the pizza place, the man in the raincoat says, "Cute shape." And her first instinct is to tighten her hands into fists, to prepare her limbs for fight or flight, until she realizes that what he's talking about is the small triangle box housing her last slice of pepperoni.
In bed, at midnight on a Saturday, she takes a driving tour of San Francisco. She starts at her old apartment, the rust-carpet place with the doorless closet and the lemon tree, and proceeds, click by click, until she gets to Twin Peaks. The view, when she gets there, is amazing, with fog and spires and streetlamps and sage. She pretends that she's there with her children, that they've just jaunted up from Dolores Park, that they smell of ice cream and sunshine and joy. Later, she dreams, they'll have burritos, and she won't get lost because she knows the way.
The cat, honorably performing her duty, catches a mouse in the cereal cabinet. She drags it out by its tail, growling and hissing, and leaves it to die on the living room floor.
March, and the sour smell of spent magnolias, blisters and sandals, the buzz of a bee. She shaves her legs better than she has all winter, buys a sundress, sits in the yard and admires the green.
He says that thing he says every springtime, that bit about how every daffodil's a blessing, because, who the fuck knows, you may never live to see another one again. And she gets what he's saying, she does, but Jesus, dude, the sun is shining, and the children, alternating between playing badminton and striking each other with racquets, demand, at this moment, immortality. There's no time, she thinks, for romanticism, for dwelling, for anything other than living in the moment. Yet still, when she sees the limp daffodils lying in a heap among the compost, she wants to pull her children against her and cry.