My mother always wanted to live near the water,” she said. “She said it’s the one thing that brings us all together. That I can have my toe in the ocean off the coast of Maine, and a girl my age can have her toe in the ocean off the coast of Africa, and we would be touching. On opposite sides of the world.

I made some fresh pasta with a neat machine Frank brought from New York; it flattens the dough in sheets and cuts the pasta into any shape you want. It’s important to have toys like that, if you live in Maine.

What do you mean ‘has to be?’ and what are you smiling at?” I stopped contributing to this ridiculous dance. I grabbed the teapot and began to fill it with water in the sink. Suddenly I felt the slight weight of his body against my back and the corner of his mouth brushed against my ear. “How human you are,” he whispered.

Their conversation ceased abruptly with the entry of an oddly-shaped man whose body resembled a certain vegetable. He was a thickset fellow with calloused and jaundiced skin and a patch of brown hair, a frizzy upheaval. We will call him Bell Pepper. Bell Pepper sidled up beside The Drippy Man and looked at the grilled cheese in his hand. The Drippy Man, a bit uncomfortable at the heaviness of the gaze, politely apologized and asked Bell Pepper if he would like one.

“Why is one of your legs fatter than the other?