The day I find out I am pregnant is also the day my husband decides to get serious about becoming an actor. I hold up the pink plus sign, and he starts Googling open auditions in our area. The first call my husband makes isn’t to his parents, it’s to his college buddy, Vito, a so-called talent agent. I hear him on the phone in the next room, saying, “I’m ready to be a serious man.”
Josh was eleven when he surpassed his dad Gary in muscle mass. He had surpassed him in strength years earlier, at seven or eight, but he feigned weakness and perfected his acting craft, and his exhales drew out longer and his face contorted with pained effort before he let Gary beat him in their nightly after-dinner arm-wrestling bouts. Josh would look at him with awe, to which Gary would look pointedly at Josh’s mom Sally. Sally, stone-faced, would studiously dip her spoon in her soup in even intervals, ignoring them both. Josh wanted to hug her and tell her everything was okay, or strike her with a single blow to send her flying across the room and scream nothing was okay.
The dog rushed from between two large junipers flanking the road on the straightaway at the McCallisters’ place, so Denmore stomped the pedal and let the ABS take it from there. The squeal of polybutadiene rubber fusing to pavement—although it could have been the dog making the sound, he couldn’t be sure—flushed Denmore’s blood from thorax to extremities, where it pulsed like many small heartbeats.
You people read about our town in the news—first the rape allegations, then Dolly Molly, then the car accident—and you think you know what happened. You think you know something about who we are. Reporters come here in their shiny cars and their jewel-toned dress suits, they ask a few questions, they spin a few stories, and now everyone from feminist bloggers to my annoying Aunt Monona, in Branson, Missouri, to random douchebags on social media thinks they know everything there is to know about us.
They met the year Rani started taking photographs. She had just bought a used digital camera, and took every chance she had to walk around Brooklyn with it. She was coming home from one of these walks when she noticed an older woman outside her building on Sterling Place digging through a purse. The woman wore a maroon coat and stood next to a full cart of groceries, plastic bags bulging from the grates. Her white hair stuck out underneath a lopsided hat. Rani jerked open the front door and held it for her neighbor.
Some of the boxes aren’t hers. It’s some mix-up with the movers. But it’s unclear how they couldn’t be. Could she simply have forgotten the things inside them? She’s begun seeing her life as a story lately—one from which she has stepped back as certain narrative threads, once her own, wind their way along without her. It’s a certain age she’s experiencing. The story of her life, its narrator drifting, as if away from her. These boxes, I mean, some of them. This one with the dolls. She’s never seen these dolls. There must be a perfectly good explanation. It’s not that she can’t recall. No. It can’t be that.