Lisa inevitably called it "the life." It was, Aurelie knew, a political term, something proud and meant to comfort and affirm. And yet it left her feeling dangerously superior, bemused in the way that Tevet's idealism likewise delighted and saddened her all at once. It was dangerous to think of one's lover and daughter in the same way: lovely, earnest, and--to be sure-- strong (Lisa's shoulders were a Tuscan wall, brown and softly contoured, smooth as dew slicked clay but somehow ancient), both so very quick to change moods, emotions, ideas, causes, attentions.

Mercurial. A girl with a silver ball in her palm.

Aurelie thought of it as the quiet space. They had not run away (runaway train came to mind, or the curious curlicue exits from mountain roads where runaway trucks were supposed to barrel off up a slope into the percussive barrier and soft sand, rocking gently to a stop like a silver ball in a pinball machine), instead this space had always been there like an unnamed prospect. Lisa arrived like someone who had long been expected, a traveler, a distant relation, now for a while home here. Ah, there you are, she thought (if she thought anything). She watched through the hexagons of a chainlink fence as the coach prowled the concrete margin along the blue water of the pool, intense and somehow regal, a faded bath towel around her shoulders like a shawl, long brown legs with perfect calves, and Cleopatra toes, the same long, slightly knobby toes as her own daughter churning now among the other swimmers in the pool. Ah, there you are, she thought, the brown toes lifting up and curling down.