Esme wakes to the slamming of the front door and panics. Each night, she goes to bed after Nathaniel and, each morning, tries to ensure she gets up before him—in case she needs to dispose of leftovers, though usually she doesn’t. But today, after she scrambles down the stairs and rounds the corner, tripping on a throw rug as she does, she finds, as expected, as feared, that Nathaniel has beaten her outside. Worse, he’s on the driveway poking at her piles with a stick. She watches from the window, and when he notices her, he goes back inside.
“Why is there food out there?” he asks gently while also assuming her guilt. He shakes his head and rolls his eyes, only partly in jest, as he goes down the hallway to get the broom and dustpan. “Let me guess. You’re feeding wild animals again.”