Open it, Alisha invites him. It won't matter how beautiful your guess is.
It is October, Rafael's seventh birthday, and Alisha has filled the room with pomegranates, blurs of rouge in the foxed mirrors.
Show me where it is written this year.
Alisha unpeels her shirt and turns to show him the length of her back tattooed in purple: All I ever wanted was a seven year old boy.
The air around Rafael rings with his happiness, and he tears open his present. Layers of newsprint stream around him until a length of wood is revealed. A plank. And a padlock, the exact size of a boy's heart. It's perfect. It's what I always wanted.
Look, Alisha unfurls the last gift. She has made him a train, a long cape of feathers in the pink and peacock colours of the aurora borealis. He ties it to his child's waist and struts the perimeter of his plank like a demi-god.
Later, we go down into the orchard, a rowdy cavalcade of party-goers. Alisha pokes sparklers into our headbands and sets us alight - make a wish - and Rex runs with us through the pear trees in the dropping light, whooping and triumphing us into exhaustion.
When the moon appears Alisha tucks us into our beds, and I hear her whispering into Rafael's ear: The stars have climbed into their constellations, in the barn the cats are licking the mice to sleep and you are seven. And we are so safe.