She’s on the floor with her six-year old, surrounded by Barbie dolls and their wardrobes.
“Your turn, Mommy,” says Isabel.
Julia picks up a doll, the one with the mermaid tattoo, and sits her down for lunch.
“How are you?” says Isabel’s brunette as she takes the seat opposite Arial.
Squirming on her cushion, Julia starts pondering the dinner options.
“Bella asked Arial a question.”
“Oh. She can’t talk. Her mouth’s full. See? She’s having lunch.”
“What are we eating?”
Julia rests her hand in her chin. Will Franck come home tonight? If he runs out of clean clothes, will he come back? Will he pack the suitcase again, and get in his car, and drive to the seminar they both know isn’t happening?
“Eat your broccoli,” Bella says.
“But I don’t like it,” replies Arial’s whiny voice.
Julia checks her watch. “Our hour’s up, honey.” She gets to her feet. “Mommy’s going to make dinner now.”
From the kitchen she hears Isabel playing both roles, both dialogues. She leans on the windowsill and stares at the needy yard, the grass tall, the weed wild, and the roses browning. She’s tired of playing both mommy and daddy. She was just tired. Point. She hasn’t played in a very long time. Maybe that’s why Franck left.