You climb the stairs to the girls’ bedroom—here is the same squeaky step—but stop outside their closed door. Pressing your ear against the wood, you hear their girl-voices talking about girl-things. There is no room for you, a grown woman, in this coven of girls, and you retreat to the incandescent light of your bedroom, the covered mirrors, the lingering smell of smoke.
You used to share this room with your true love, the father to your daughters, the man who looked at you like the kingdom had already come. He would’ve given you everything if he could have. You know that, don’t you? It’s not your fault what happened to him.
You fall asleep and dream of glass paperweights. Inside the glass are tiny versions of your girls, but you are not the one holding the glass, the man Oren is. You can tell by his hands, the bigness of them, the sweep of red hair across knuckles, the letters tattooed onto fingers: M-E-R-G-I-R-L-S. He shakes the glass and the girls go tumbling. The worst part of this dream is the jealousy you feel for being left out of the glass. All you want is for Oren to hold you, to send you tumbling.
When you wake, the man Oren is in bed beside you snoring.
Do you roll toward this big man that you love and hold him? Go to section O.
Or do you leave the bed and go after your girls? Go to section N.