Epilogue: Five Minutes From Now. A Slightly Skewed View of the World

Emily and Alice sit on the living room floor with crayons in their hands and sheets of paper under their wrists. They draw pictures of the parents. Alice has them with orange hair and wide round eyes. Emily makes them with big feet and wings on their elbows. They ask the parents to turn sideways for a different view. Emily and Alice draw them again in profile, making them look exactly like penguins they have seen in pictures. Later the parents put the pictures up on the fridge and tell stories to Emily and Alice until they fall asleep.

Episode 396: Lucky Break

Mazolli tells Terrastina about an article he read which explains how people get together. Do tell, says Terrastina. Yeah, says Mazolli. It’s all about names. Certain names are spiritually attracted to certain other names and when these names come in close proximity, they kind of veer towards each other. Then there’s a collision, and the people fall in love. Or something like that. Terrastina listens carefully. Interesting theory, she says, do you think that’s what happened to us? No, says Mazolli. I think with you and me, it was more the twins needed us for them to be born.

Episode 395: Brewed

Mazolli and Terrastina go into the city and stop at a coffee shop called The Brew. It is a fancy establishment with upscale furniture and very pricey coffee. This is not like our place was, says Mazolli. Nope, says Terrastina. Our The Brew was way cozier. Bet we made way better coffee, too. They examine the desserts under the glass at the front counter. These look pretty good, says Terrastina, for being sugary cakes and all. Does it make you miss the old place? asks Mazolli. Terrastina shakes her head. Nothing lasts forever Moz, she says. Except maybe us.

Episode 394: Closure

Terrastina takes her bike to the library. She goes to one of the computers and logs onto the internet and checks the web site where people can talk to the stars. She scrolls through the messages people have left for the aliens to read. A lot of them say something like Please help us. Others ask why the aliens haven’t given Earth the secret of clean energy. A few ask the aliens for money. There are a lot of ads. Terrastina types in her message: If you find this, please be kind. Hope you are all keeping well. Peace.

Episode 393: But is it Criticism

Mazolli cuts thick slabs of potato, coats them with oil, and roasts them in the oven to make french fries. He arranges them on plates like logs to form a cabin. He leaves holes on three sides for windows and leans a particularly thick fry against the side for the chimney. He puts the plate in front of the twins. What’s this? they say. A potato house, says Mazolli. It’s food art. Eat up. The twins get the ketchup bottle from the fridge and open it. They lift it above the french fry cabin. It’s raining ketchup, they say.

Episode 392: Close Call

Mazolli loses his hairbrush. The twins ask him where he was when he last had it. I was brushing my hair, says Mazolli. Dad! say the twins, this is serious and we have to find it. Can’t I just lie down on the couch, says Mazolli, read you a story, and wait for the brush to find me? The twins sigh, then go sit on the couch. Mazolli sits between them. He feels something under the cushion. He lifts it up and finds a doll. The twins stare at each other. This doll’s hair really needs brushing, says Mazolli.

Episode 391: Guarantee

A man comes into The Gallery holding a framed drawing. Remember this? he says. Terrastina looks at the picture, then at the man. I drew that fifteen years ago, she says. You bought it from me. The man claps his hands. That’s right, he says. You told me it would look great in my house. Terrastina tilts her head. I said that? Yes you did, says the man, yes you did. Terrastina shrugs. Okay, she says. The man points at her. Well, he says, you’re wrong. I can’t stand this picture anymore. I came to get my money back.

Episode 390: The Amnesia of Magma

Terrastina draws rocks for days, weeks. Big rocks, little rocks. Single rocks and groups of rocks. Smooth rocks and bumpy rocks. Broken rocks and rocks with fissures and chipped off bits. She accumulates piles of drawings like layers of shale. I’ve discovered the secret of rocks, she tells Mazolli, you have to listen to them. Not just look at them, but listen, you know what I mean? Mazolli shakes his head very slowly. I don’t think so, he says. Terrastina puts her hand over his eyelids. She holds a rock up to his ear. How about now? she says.

Episode 389: Parallel Worlds

The twins run in circles for what seems like hours and hours. Mazolli calls them in for lunch. We don’t need lunch, they say. We’re getting power from our windmill. Even windmills need to eat, says Mazolli. Nuh uh, say the twins. Not windmills like us. Mazolli shields his eyes from the sun and looks at the center of the circle that the twins have defined. I don’t see any windmill, says Mazolli. It’s invisible, say the twins. He walks into the circle. I don’t feel any windmill either, he says. The twins stop. Let’s go eat, they say.

Episode 388: Do Unto Others

There’s something here you need to see, says Terrastina’s friend on the phone. Terrastina goes right over and finds her old bicycle on her friend’s front yard. The frame is scratched up and the seat is torn. The chain needs oiling and the gear cables look pretty rusty, but it is Terrastina’s bicycle and she is happy to see it. She finds a note in the basket. Sory for taken yur bike, it says. I won ever do it agen. Terrastina studies the note for a long time, then tears it up and stuffs the pieces into her pocket.

Episode 387: Remembering Winter

The twins stand under the cherry tree as blossom petals fall to the ground. They hold out their hands and open their mouths. The petals fill their palms and stick to their tongues. The twins tilt their heads back and feel the petals dotting their faces. They scoop up some of the petals frosting the ground and shape them into odd cousins of snowballs: loosely clumped, lumpy, and tinged with a subtle pink. They toss their petal clumps high into the air. The clumps hold together for less than a second, then disintegrate into a shower of delicate flakes.

Episode 386: Off Balance

At the church across the street workers paint the siding, install a wheelchair access ramp, and replace the old doors. Mazolli goes over to inspect the work. You guys having fun? he asks. They look at him like he’s broken glass that needs sweeping up. I always thought I’d like working on old buildings, says Mazolli. Seems like real satisfying work. A truck pulls up with a large piece of stained glass strapped to its side. The workers begin unlashing it. As they tilt it over, Mazolli sees his smoky reflection. He does not recognize himself for several seconds.

Episode 385: Bother

A man with leathered skin and a long white beard comes into The Gallery. He looks at some of the pictures for a brief time, then sits at one of the tables and stares at Mazolli. After a few minutes of this Mazolli asks the man if he needs anything. Don’t think so, says the man. My life is beyond need now. He keeps staring. Mazolli tries to ignore him. Then the man speaks. I thought you looked like my son, he says. But I’m wrong. The man gets up and walks out the door. Mazolli misses him immediately.

Episode 384: Got it Covered

Terrastina goes around the house putting towels over all the clocks. What’s up? asks Mazolli. We are way too time conscious, says Terrastina. This will cure us of that particular disease. Mazolli stares at the towel hanging on the wall where he always used to see the big clock with the face like a lilly pad and the frogs in the twelve, three, six, and nine positions. Hey, says Mazolli, what about the frogs? Don’t I get to see the frogs anymore? Oh Dad, say the twins. The frogs are just going to sleep now. It’ll all be okay.

Episode 383: Water

An artist brings in a rolled up piece of parchment paper. Terrastina spreads it out on a table. She stands back. The surface of the paper bears a pencil drawing of a divining rod. Wow, she says, that takes me back. I used to use these to find water for people to drill their wells. My grandfather did that for years, says the artist. I found this in his garage when he died. Do you like it? Terrastina does not answer. She runs her hand along the edge of the image, collecting a dot of black on her fingertip.

Episode 382: Green

Mazolli sees a woman on the courthouse lawn looking down at the grass and walking in tiny steps. Lose something? asks Mazolli. Some money, says the woman without looking up. A few dollars. Not worth my time, really, but I hate to think of someone else getting it. You know, if they haven’t earned it. Oh, says Mazolli. He closes his eyes and turns slowly. When it feels right, he stops, opens his eyes and walks forward. He stops at a patch of clover, bends down and plucks one, then gives it to the woman. You’re welcome, says Mazolli.

Episode 381: Practice Random Acts of Kindness

The regulars from The Brew are grateful when Terrastina puts in a coffee maker in The Gallery. They give her flowers and cards and say thank you so many times she threatens them. Stop this, she says, or I’ll have to start calling you the irregulars and make you buy some of this art hanging on the walls. They laugh and greet customers coming in the door. Big bargain today, they say. Buy two pictures and get the third one for half price. Terrastina gives them a look. The regulars become very quiet. It’s just smart marketing, they say.

Episode 380: Secret Information

Terrastina and Mazolli leave the twins with friends and drive to the coast for a couple of days. When they return, the twins look at them with puzzled expressions. Who are you? they ask. Why do you think you can just take us home with you? They try to keep their faces serious, but soon start laughing and laughing. Terrastina turns to Mazolli. You know what, she says, I think they’re right. I don’t recognize these kids. The twins run to Terrastina. She hugs them and whispers into their ears. I’m so glad I have you both, she says.

Episode 379: From Out of the Tribe

A passenger from the boat moored at the pier comes into The Gallery. She nods at Terrastina. Terrastina nods back. The passenger walks the perimeter of the gallery, examining each picture for a brief time, then moving on. You have nice work here, says the passenger. Thank you, says Terrastina. Do you see anything you particularly like? The passenger points to an extreme close-up photograph of an orange peel. I feel like I could fall into this, she says. I like that one very much myself, says Terrastina. Only one thing, says the passenger. You should serve coffee here.

Episode 378: The Feeling of Power

A young artist brings in a canvas with the F word repeated dozens of times in stenciled red letters on a black background. Will you put this up in your gallery? he asks. Terrastina studies the painting. Are you kidding me? she says. The artist looks offended. What do you mean? he says. There are some words, says Terrastina, which need to be reserved for times that really demand them. I couldn’t agree with you more, says the artist. I think this is one of those times. Terrastina looks at the picture again. Nope, she says, you’re way wrong.