On the outside of the bulky Popalicious! box, a carnivalesque machine shoots sunny popcorn into the grinning mouths of a photogenic family. They remind Noah of surfacing carp—their zealous leapfrogging to catch the buttery treats. He used to love hand-feeding popcorn to the carp at the family lakeside cabin upstate—feels like more than a lifetime ago. He doublechecks the shipping label to confirm that it was his father who sent the popper.
Junior toddles over to the box. He slaps it, bites it, then looks up with hopefulness. “Popcorn?” he asks Noah.
“Maybe it’s a peace offering,” Kenzie says, fingering one of many holes in her raggedy college sweatshirt. She favors it whenever there’s a terminal patient in the children’s ward, like she’s turned her battered soul inside out.
She is too tender right now, he thinks. “He’s got to know this won’t fit in our kitchen. We don’t even fit in there.”
“I bet he’s forgotten how small our apartment is.”
“There must be more to this. Why couldn’t he just bring it by?”
“Because then he’d have to apologize.” Kenzie’s face tightens as she watches Junior’s buoyant zigzag around the room. “Maybe we should at least open it.… Read more »