Aurora
quickly agrees, and Badim goes to get it out of the hall closet.
    They sit on the floor and put together all the parts of the house. It was a present from Devi’s parents to Devi, long before, and through every move in her life, Devi has saved it. A big dollhouse that is also a miniature tree house, in that all its rooms fit onto the branches of a very nice-looking plastic bonsai tree. When all the rooms are assembled and fitted onto the branches they are supposed to fit, you can open the roofs and look into each room, and each is furnished and appointed however you like.
    “It’s so pretty,” Freya says. “I’d love to live in a house like this.”
    “You already do,” Devi says.
    Badim looks away, and Devi sees that. Her face spasms. Freya feels a lurch of fear as she watches her mother’s face shift from anger to sadness, then to frustration, then resolve, then fury, then, finally, to some kind of desolation; and after all that, pulling herself together, to some kind of blankness, which is the best she can do at that moment. Which Freya pretends is okay, to help her out.
    “I would choose this room,” Badim says, tapping a small bedroom with open windows on all four sides, out on one of the outermost branches of the tree.
    “You always choose that one,” Freya points out. “I choose the one by the water wheel.”
    “It would be noisy,” Devi says, as she always does. She always chooses the living room itself, so big and airy, where she will sleep on the couch, next to the harmonium. Now she makes that choice again. And so they go on, trying to knit things back together.

    Very late that night, however, Freya wakes up and hears her parents talking down the hall. Something in their voices catches at her; this may even be what woke her. Or Badim exclaimingsomething, louder than usual. She crawls silently to the doorway, and from there on the floor can hear them, even though they are speaking quietly.
    “
You
chipped her?” he is saying now.
    “Yes.”
    “And you didn’t consult with me about this?”
    “No.”
    Long silence.
    “You shouldn’t have yelled at her like that.”
    “I know, I know, I know,” Devi says, as she often does when Badim taxes her with doing something wrong. He does it very infrequently, and when he does he is usually in the right, and Devi knows that. “I lost it. I was so surprised. I didn’t think she would ever do anything like that. I thought that after all we’ve been through, that she would understand how important it is.”
    “She’s just a child.”
    “But she’s not!” This in her fierce whisper, the undertone she uses when she and Badim argue at night. “She’s fourteen years old, Badim. She’s behind, you have to admit it. She’s behind and she may never catch up.”
    “There’s no reason to say that.”
    A silence. Finally Devi says, “Come on, Beebee. Quit it. You aren’t doing her any favors when you pretend everything is normal with her. It isn’t. There’s something wrong. She’s slow at things.”
    “I’m not so sure. She always comes through. Slow is not the same as deficient. It’s just slow. A glacier is slow too, but it gets there, and nothing stops it. Freya is like that.”
    Another silence.
    “Beebee. I wish it would be true.” A pause. “But think about those tests. And she’s not the only one. A fair percentage of her cohort has problems. It’s like a regression to the norm.”
    “Not at all.”
    “How can you say that? It’s clear this ship is damaging us! Thefirst generation were all supposedly exceptional people, although I have my doubts about that, but even if they were, over the six generations we’ve recorded shrinkages of all kinds. Weight, reflex speed, number of brain synapses, test scores. It’s straight out of island biogeography, clear as can be. And some of that involves regression, including regression to the norm. Reversion to the mean. Whatever you want to call it. It’s gotten our Freya too. I don’t

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