I take the Firecracker and Hannah to a Greek restaurant up the street the day I learn my grandfather’s dying. Really dying. He’d been joking about dying for a long time, joking about never buying green bananas, that sort of thing. My mom tells me that if I want to call to say goodbye, the nurse at the veteran’s home will hold the phone to grandpa’s ear.
“He can’t respond,” mom explains, “but they say he’ll hear you. The mind is the last thing to shut down.”
I sit in my kitchen after this, phone in my hands. The Firecracker fills in the pages of a blank book made of stapled construction paper. “Pinky 9985 is Moving,” she titles this one. Pinky 9985 is an imaginary penguin. Sometimes Pinky 9985 is ice fishing in front of the Taj Mahal. Sometimes Pinky 9985 is hidden inside a storm of ink spirals or juggling pink igloos or moving to New York on a plane with wings like tucked arms, bent elbows, a sleek dolphin fin of a tail in a blue scribble sky. Pinky 9985 peers out the airplane window with oversized penguin eyes and a “what the hell is going on” kind of crumple to her beak. Hannah sits on a kitchen bar stool, her own phone in her own hands, thumbs tapping. I look at the hanging pots, the sun catching the rims.