Charles maneuvers Ava’s arms into the ruffled apron that waits on its hook. He pushes up the corners of her mouth with his thumbs. “There’s a good girl,” he says, and turns her toward the kitchen.
The clatter of women’s work relaxes him. Drowsing over his keyboard, he dreams of pot roast and mounds of buttery sweet potatoes arranged just so on his plate.
A crash jolts him awake. Ava stands frozen in the center of gleaming marble tile, surrounded by shards of white ceramic. When he reaches for her, a warble rises from the depths of her throat like birdsong stretched thin and plucked with a fingernail.
“Knock that off,” he growls.
Her lips curve up on their own. With an airy pop she implodes, the rubbery crumples of her smile raining down on his shoes.