2. Button

Serial Fiction Art
Tianxing Ma

The mountains surrounding Foxglove were perpetually cloudless in summer, hence the unsettled feeling that descended when we awoke to an overcast day. The forest grove out the kitchen window seemed hazy and the creek’s gurgle—faintly audible from inside—had intensified, as if the water flowed more furiously. My brother Collin and I sipped black coffee while he mixed cheese and vegetables into omelet mix: breakfast for Aunt Taylor, who had arrived late last night for her annual summer stay at Foxglove.

When Taylor finally made it to breakfast, the omelets had grown cold, Dad—who had taken the morning off work to see her—had grown grumpy, and Royella had grown annoyingly chirpy. Taylor’s white spaniel, Button, followed us as we moved outside into the strangely chilled morning air. Wrapping our shoulders in blankets, we settled into mismatched porch furniture.


We picked at the omelets, devoured Royella’s homemade scones, and looked out at the ancient cedars and sugar pines, some with trunks over eight feet in diameter. My eyes rested on the sluggishly fanning wings of a swallowtail, perched on the fir beside a napping Button.

“So how was your drive up here?” Collin asked Taylor.

“Fine,” she said. “Took me almost three hours.”

“Really?” Royella said. “I’ve done it in one.”

“When were you at Table Mountain?” Dad asked Royella, chuckling. “No offense, honey, I just can’t picture it.”


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