As the kitchen sink filled with hot water, Hannah looked out the cabin window at the kids. Her boys had brought out the ladder golf, and they were showing Tracy’s girls how to fling the pairs of rubber golf balls connected by short lengths of rope. Tracy picked up a floral kitchen towel and smiled. “Ready when you are.”

Hannah dropped a stack of plates into the sink and watched as the soapy water turned dirty with red oil from the taco meat. She scrubbed a plate with a sponge, rinsed it over the drying rack, and handed it to Tracy.

“Have you ever wondered,” she asked Tracy, “how your life would be different if you’d had boys?”

“Sometimes,” said Tracy, putting the plate in the cupboard and taking the next one from Hannah. “Brian wanted a boy. I did too.”

“But you’re not sorry about your decision to tie it off?”

“Oh, God, no.” Tracy’s Keds squeaked on the floor, wet with drips from the plates. “Two kids is enough. We got our two, with no complications and no medications. That’s all we can ask. You’re done too, right?”

Hannah looked out the the window. Mikey was swinging two pairs of balls at Kevin, aggressively. Kevin was trying to kick Mikey. The girls were backing away. “Yeah,” she said. “We’re done.”

“Anyway,” continued Tracy, “whether it’s a boy or a girl doesn’t even matter all that much. Any kid can grow up to be a druggie or an ax murderer. I guess boys do more often…but anyway, as long as they stay out of jail and don’t get pregnant or get anyone else pregnant until they grow up, you really can’t complain, right?”

“Right.” Hannah felt for the edge of the sharp knife under the water, and scrubbed it carefully.

“So I was thinking for breakfast tomorrow we could heat up those potatoes and make the rest of the eggs.” Tracey opened the silverware drawer and sorted the spoons and forks into compartments as she dried them.

“That sounds good.” Mikey was now sitting on Kevin, hitting him with one of the rubber balls. Through the window, Hannah could hear the dull thwup thwup thwup as Mikey hit his brother over and over again. The girls were running toward the cabin, looking distressed. Over the sink, Hannah squeezed the sponge dry. “Can’t complain.”

Jay Gabler