There were signs of impending divorce all over the house. The dog wanted to be around us because he was lonely and the man with the guitar sang his sad songs in the bedroom down the hall because he wanted to be alone. Leila and I were dressed in kimonos and sitting cross-legged on the floor. On her lap was a book about fairies.
“Look here,” said Leila. She pointed to a drawing of a ring of mushrooms. A ruined old man in tattered clothing was on his hands and knees crawling away from it. “This is a fairy ring.”
I told her I didn’t know what that was.
“If you step inside a fairy ring, the fairies make you dance with them. They pull you around and around and around. And when they finally let go, you realize decades have passed—and suddenly you are very old.”
She closed the book and stood up. In her pink kimono she examined her own room. “I see things I like and I see things I don’t like. I want the things I like to stay forever. I want the things I don’t like to go away.”
And what do you like? I said.
“I like the things that are beautiful.” She pointed to a picture hung up above the fireplace which showed the migration paths of birds from North America to South America. “Like this. This is good,” she said.
Leila walked to the other side of the room. She took off her kimono and laid it out neatly on her bed. “This too,” she said. “I want to wear this forever. It’s telling me secrets right now.” She laughed.
The mason jar on her bedside table was empty. I picked it up and said I was going to the kitchen to fill it.
Leila put her kimono back on and padded over to me in her bare feet. Her face was rosy. “Downstairs I have blueberries,” she said, “and there’s nothing I want more right now than blueberries.”
Quietly she opened the door and crept down the stairs. Her kimono flowed behind her. With the empty mason jar in my hand I followed her to the lamplit rooms below.